“Hi, my name is [insert name]. Welcome to my wedding venue. Congratulations on your engagement. Let me show you around and let me know if you have questions. We seat [select number] people, we include [set-up, cleaning, tables, moral support, etc], and we cost [insert ridiculous dollar amount that includes 4 walls and a roof] for a Saturday.”
Have you heard that same ol’ song and dance before? Welcome to a wedding venue tour you first time, naive engaged couple. Be prepared to receive a sub-par sales pitch and a pamphlet with pretty pictures of someone else’s wedding. You want to know a secret though? Searching for the “right” wedding venue is like searching for a place to eat in a town you have never visited in which you are so hungry that you are choosing which of your arms you will start nibbling on first. Regardless of where you finally choose, you feel like it is the right choice because of your stomach’s desire to satisfy it’s craving. You won’t ever know if there was a better place because you are leaving town the next day and your goal was achieved. Your objective, if you so choose, is to pick a wedding venue that checks all of the boxes that are most important to you. But, do you even know what boxes to check since this is the first time you have been engaged? Mission Impossible. Let me give you some tidbits of advice on how to choose the right wedding venue.
1) PRIORITIZE THE PRIZE
Is the visual appearance #1 or is the service #1? Of course you want both to be amazing but set one above the other. If the appearance is at the top of your list, is the ceremony or the reception more important? If you are more focused on how the ceremony looks and feels, judge your venue on those marks first and foremost. If the reception space and the party pad check your first box, pay special attention to the proximity of the dance floor to the bar, look close at the head table and backdrop, and see if there is a fun patio for guests to be outside.
If service is #1, then figure out what the venue offers that will make your wedding day smooth and easy so you can relax and enjoy the time with your fiancé, family and friends. Ask the following questions:
- Do they set up and tear down?
- Do they clean or do they charge additional cleaning fee?
- Does the venue include planning and/or day-of-coordinating?
- Do tables, chairs, linens, decorations, etc. come with the rental or are they separate?
- Is the venue open catering or do you have to go through a specific caterer?
- What time can you show up and what time do all guests have to leave?
2) I NOW PRONOUCE, INSIDE OR OUTSIDE
Do you want to have your wedding ceremony at the same place as the reception or are you having a church wedding? If you want to do the same location, does your venue have an indoor space or outdoor? If outdoor, is it paved or covered just incase of rain? If it is indoor, is it a separate space from the reception or will the space need to be flipped? Rain even the day before can have a huge impact on the ceremony space if it is grass. You don’t need all of your bridesmaids heals deep in mud.
3) LAY OFF, I’M STARVING
Does the venue require you to use their catering or their preferred caterer or is it open catering? This has a huge impact on the overall price for your wedding. Many venues that require you to use their food services or their preferred food vendor have higher food charges per person. Slightly counterintuitive but I will cover this in a separate blog post.
4) DRINK A LITTLE DRINK
Does the venue have a liquor license? If so, do they require a minimum dollar spent on alcohol? Are bartenders included in your rental price? Also, it seems like a given, but be sure you know what alcohol is available for your guests. Not all licenses include liquor and not all venues include variety. If you are expecting to be able to get a nice whiskey but the venue only caries Black Velvet, there isn’t much you can do about it the day of your wedding (this is in no way a bash on the classic BV). Serving alcohol to 200-300 people is a chore so be sure your venue is confident and versed in selling alcohol and has the setup and staff to be efficient.
Finally, DO NOT SETTLE. If you need to visit 6-10 venues before one checks all of your boxes, then do so. Do not rush this process. As mentioned previously, you will never know if there was a better venue for you out there. So be sure to do your homework, visit the venues, and judge the venue on all merits of your big day. The venue tour better be the best tour you have ever been given as your wedding day should be one of the best days of your life.