Hey, Bride to be! I know that choosing a wedding venue can be one of the hardest hurdles to get over, plus it is one of the things that have to be chosen before you can book anything else! With the craziness of the last three years, there can be a sense of uncertainty surrounding even picking the venue. Although I can’t tell you what the future holds, I can help you make the most informed decision possible so you feel confident.
1. Hire a Wedding Planner!
I know, I know! The first thing that may cross your mind is, I can’t afford it! But in my personal opinion, you can’t afford not to! First, most planners can actually get you a bit of a price break on vendors. Their job is all about relationships. I know that when planners come to me I definitely offer price breaks for their clients. Often planners can save you money, not just by the relationships they have with vendors, but with knowing how much you should be spending on each aspect of your wedding.
2. Know your Guest Count!
So this is a hard one because often time the price per head dictates how many guests that you can invite. However, most couples have an idea of how many guests minimum they would like to invite. Start with the minimum for sure, and then the max that would like to invite in an ideal situation. The key here… just because a venue can hold 200 guests, doesn’t mean that they should! I can’t tell you the amount of events that I’ve photographed, that had so many tables smashed together, that moving around was nearly impossible. Think comfort of your guests when choosing both the venue and the number of guests to invite.
3. Learn what’s included!
There are so many variables when choosing your wedding venue, and that includes everything from their caterer to their linens, even their preferred vendors or on staff vendors. Using venues that include services can definitely save you money, but it’s important to love what you are purchasing. Do you love their food? Their decoration options? Etc….
If you have hired a wedding planner, you can usually get an idea what the cost will be if you hire all your own vendors, vs. using the venues. Once you have the data, you can make informed decisions. For me, customization is super important! The questions I would ask the venue are:
Can I use my own caterer? Can I decorate my own way? Do the vendors I hire have to be approved ahead of time?
If you choose to customize things with your venue, make sure to you go in with a list of detailed questions, so you are dinged with charges or unpleasant surprises later on:)
4. Choosing a private friend/family space vs. a venue!
A private location is a fun and unique option, plus if the date needs to be moved, there are no worries about losing the deposit. The few things to really think about are logistics. If the location is remote, it could incur additional costs, such as renting a restroom unit. Paying more for the vendors to access the locations. Shuttle service for the guests, and of course, is there a place for your guests to stay? These are super important questions to ask! I love using family members property personally, because of the lack of limitations and the additional freedoms that couples have, however, it may not save you money in the long run.
5. Does it have an indoor/outdoor option?
This is a key factor, no matter where you are! Weather is very unpredictable, even here in California where we go a half a year without rain. Between heatwaves and smoke-filled skies, having options is very important to ensure the comfort and safety of your guests. One of my favorite locations is The Jacuzzi Vineyard in Sonoma. Not only do they have an amazing outdoor space, but they have a huge hall that can hold both the ceremony as well as the reception! Be prepared for every contingency.
6. What are all their policies on vendors.
This was mentioned above, but it is so important that it needs repeating. It would be horrible if you fell in love with a particular vendor and then it turns out that you can’t even use them. Make sure that your vendor has insurance first and foremost and usually there won’t be an issue. Second, is of course just making sure you know the types of vendors you can bring in? DJ, MC, Florist, Rental Company for decorations, Photographer, Videographer (drone, no drone?), and of course your own planner.
7. Know their Cancelation Policy!!
I think most couples know this one by heart anyway, but it bears repeating, especially right now. Know their policy on cancelation as well as moving the date. COVID won’t be the only emergency there is so be prepared! Most venues are being flexible, however, I have heard from several that have charged an arm and leg to move dates, even during this crazy time!!
Of course, I could go on and on about this one, lol.
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I am so happy that you're here! My name is Crystal Summer Bear, I am an avid traveler, solopreneur and boutique portrait and wedding photographer.
I love to share tips, tricks and beautiful stories that connect us all.
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