As a wedding planner, I get a lot of questions from clients about how to hire the right photographer, choose a venue that is within budget, select menus, and so on. I get it. There are seriously A LOT of details that go into wedding planning and if you’re not intentional and wise in your decision-making, you may find your budget stretched a little too thin or experience some not so pleasant situations on your BIG day.
Even if you’ve hired a wedding planner, it doesn’t mean that your job is finished. There are still decisions to make and hiring to do in order to bring your dream wedding to life. Having a wedding planner will just make the decision-making process easier and less stressful.
While we can’t control everything (take the weather for example), we can definitely maximize the results of other aspects of the planning process we DO have control over.
Today we’re covering PART 1 of this mini-series on all things wedding vendors, starting with venue. Let’s get to it!
When should you select your wedding venue?
Finding your wedding venue will be one of the big things to mark off your wedding checklist, but it definitely won’t be the first. There are several steps you need to take before you dive into your venue search. Check out What To Do When You Get Engaged to learn more about what to do BEFORE you select your venue.
Once you have an idea of the kind of venue and look you want, you can begin researching and inquiring for availability. Pro Tip: if you have a full-service wedding planner, they will take care of this for you. As you research and tour venues, consider what is included with each venue. A lot of the information you need can be found on a venue’s website before you even inquire for a tour, such as: maximum guest count, food and beverage options, decor examples, and a list of amenities included with the space.
Some venues have packages that include decor items such as upgraded chairs, floor-length linens, and chargers for your table settings. However, it’s very likely that these items are add-on services with extra costs, so make sure to refer back to your budget and see if it allows for any extras. Make sure to also take into account what decor, and how much of it, is needed to achieve the look you want so that you’re not surprised when you receive your bill.
If you are going for rustic elegance, a well-manicured barn would be ideal instead of a banquet-style hotel ballroom. Destination bride? Check out our post on the Best Destination Wedding Locations.
By now you probably have a few options and are ready to book a tour. Your tour is not just for you to see a place, it’s also for you to meet the manager/vendor and ask good questions. When touring the venue, the salesperson will give you plenty of details as to why their venue is the best in the area. They should cover basic information like food options, rental spaces, room setups, parking, payments, and much more.
Here are 5 questions you should consider asking during your venue tour and take into consideration when making your final selection:
1. Will there be any other events scheduled for the day or weekend of my wedding?
This is super important as it may affect two things: the quality of service and your wedding day schedule. Having additional weddings on the same day is not a deal breaker, as long as the staff can handle the size of your event and deliver the same, if not better, quality of service for you and your guests. Therefore, it’s helpful to know and make sure they have a system in place to manage multiple events on the same day and have experience in doing so.
Having other weddings the same day may also affect the time you are allowed to access the venue and the time you are required to leave after having the clean-up taken care of. For example, if you’re having a lunch reception and your venue has another wedding booked for the evening, it’s likely that they will require you to leave by a certain time so they can prepare for the next wedding.
2. What are the service fees and taxes for the date I want?
Wedding venues often have different prices for different dates. Remember to ask for pricing specifically for your wedding day to get a clear picture of how much it will cost. If you are open to other dates, ask if they have discounted rates for certain days of the week or seasons.
3. What services/rentals are NOT included that I would need to source myself?
Most wedding venues have service fees. These extra costs are sometimes in the fine print and can include cleaning fees, overtime charges, or gratuity. Make sure that you get all the costs included in your rental before signing anything and consider additional expenses you will need to cover.
4. Do you have a list of preferred vendors or any recommendations?
This is an essential question to ask wedding venues as they will have direct experience working with other vendors you will eventually be looking at.
A couple more things to be aware of:
- Find out how much time your vendors have for setup and takedown.
- Some venues have specific caterers, bakers, DJ’s, and more that they work with exclusively. If you have a preference for specific vendors, make sure you ask about this before booking your wedding venue. If you can bring in your own vendors, consider what they offer and what you will need to bring yourself (like sound equipment).
Pro tip: This is one of the most important questions to ask a wedding venue as you’ll need to coordinate timing with all your other vendors.
5. Who will be my point of contact throughout planning and on my wedding day?
A good venue doesn’t just book you in and disappear until the day of your wedding. Make sure you have direct contact with and access to the coordinator and their team so you are in the loop and can reach out if you have any questions.
As with any vendor, once you decide on your venue, it is important to review the contract along with the cancellation policy. For example, a previous client wanted to change from her outdoor barn venue to a more comfortable, climate-controlled indoor ballroom due to the summer heat and unpredictable elements of mother nature. These things are important to keep in mind while reviewing your contract. Should you need to change your date or select a new venue for any reason, it is important to understand the financial implications, if any, that you would incur.
I’m excited to continue this series for the next few weeks. Stay tuned for more! Need more wedding tips? Check out my blog post on What To Do When You Get Engaged.