I’m getting married. Let’s just let that marinate for a minute because sometimes I still find it hard to believe. When my fiance and I decided that it was time to take the next step I was beyond elated. My Pinterest board began expanding as I started to collect more and more ideas for what I wanted, but then I had to step back and realize that while pinning my ideas to a Pinterest board is great, I need to get moving on planning and stop talking about ideas and actually put those ideas into motion.
When you start your wedding planning, the first thing that you want to do is look for your reception venue and ceremony space. Now for some, the reception venue may be thee same as the ceremony, but for many others your reception will be in one place and the ceremony will be in another – especially if you are planning to get married in a church such as what my fiancé and I are doing.
Now, I’m going to be honest with you. My fiancé and I aren’t getting married for another year and a half, but when I began researching reception venues in our area on the date that we picked, it became apparent that people were booking their venues two years out and if I wanted my ideal venue then I should get a move on. Through my entire process, there was some struggle and I want to share with you the steps of how I found my perfect reception venue.
1 – Determine What Your “Must-Haves” Are
The first thing that you want to do before you even begin researching venues is to make a list of the aspects that your reception venue must include. If you are a person who wants your reception and ceremony space to be the same place, than make sure that you look up venues that include a ceremony space in the package or for small price. Things you might want to think of that would be on your ‘must-have’ list could include:
- whether it is in close proximity to a hotel (if you aren’t in a hotel)
- needs to have a bridal suite in the venue
- whether you can modify the packages (not all places allow that)
- it can hold the amount of people who you are inviting
- package includes availability to host your rehearsal dinner in the same place the day before
- whether you hang decorations on the ceiling and/or walls
These are a few small things but many brides have particulars about what they want to be able to do with their venue, but it is best to include them on your list because when I began looking I realized that many venues have restrictions and set policies that stop couples from being able to do what they want. My fiancé wanted to be able to supply the alcohol to the wedding (because this cuts prices), but I soon learned that there are not many places that allow you to bring your own alcohol.
Make that list and keep it next to you as you research places in your area online.
2 – Make Sure that Your Venue is in a Convenient Place
When I began looking at venues, I started choosing places that were convenient to my current location. I soon came to realize that though it is my wedding, I do need to be considerate of my guests. My fiancé and I are located in two different counties at the moment – he lives in the same area as his family and I live with mine. Originally, I was looking for reception venues that were located around my own family instead of thinking of soon-to-be family’s commute.
Having a venue that is close to a hotel is not the only thing that you must consider. You must also take into account how far everyone has to travel. If I were to book a venue that is close to me and over an hour away from my other family members, it would become too hard for them especially with them helping with the wedding and having to not only commute to the venue on the day of but days before then. I eventually found a location that had a few venues in an area that was in between my family and my fiance’s family and fortunately it is located very close to my sister. I know where all the ladies will be getting dressed on my wedding day!
3 – Ask All the Right Questions
During the process of visiting venues, I had a list of questions that I carried with my everywhere so that I wouldn’t be surprised with anything later down the road after I had paid my non-refundable deposit. I also made sure that I always brought another person with me when my fiancé couldn’t attend due to work so that if I missed any questions, they would be there to back me up. Some questions that you may want to ask when visiting are:
- Is there a clean-up charge?
- How early can my vendors come in the day of the wedding to set up?
- Is there a charge if we stay slightly over the time allotted?
- Will I have to have someone pick up all the leftover items that I brought to the wedding on the day of or will the venue do it and allow someone to pick it up days later?
- Is the gratuity and fees included in the pricing?
- What happens in inclement weather such as a snow storm? (This is especially important for those who have Winter weddings).
Make sure to also as questions in connection to your ‘must-have’ list. One of the questions that I learned that I must ask is about the head count. Some places require you to have a minimum amount of guests for Saturday evening weddings and even if you don’t have that amount attend, you are still paying for that amount. Ask your venue whether they allow flexibility. The venue that we booked was able to meet us in the middle and state that even though they had a 100 person minimum, they would allow as low as 85 show up and we would not be charged for the full 100. You can obviously see that I don’t want a big wedding.
4 – Don’t Say Yes to the First Venue You See
After sitting down with my family and setting a budget, I did my research online to find venues that would fit within my established budget. After narrowing down the venues to my top 5, it was time to hit the road and visit all of these places.
On my first visit, my fiancé and I fell in love with the space. Of course, there were a few small details that other members of the search party noticed, but we thought it was the best place we were going to find and even after visiting the other few spaces, I started to become set on that particular venue. My mother finally convinced me to relax a little and sit down and think about whether this was really the place. She wanted me to let it marinate. I took a few weeks and looked over all the paperwork and began thinking that I should do one more final search to see whether I could find something else.
After a few day of research, I found this one venue that fit exactly in my budget and gave me some extra wiggle room so that I could have funds to add other aspects to my wedding. The pictures on the site didn’t seem to appealing, but I decided that we were going to visit anyway.
We went, and honestly, I was so glad that we didn’t go with the first one. This venue included all the aspects that I wanted included in the package and more. For a lesser price per person than the other venues, it included center pieces, the cake, the food, linens and more. The only thing that it didn’t include was the alcohol. It was a BYO venue – which was exactly what my fiancé was looking for.
We had found our perfect venue!
When we had found our perfect venue it was like a weight had been lifted off of me. We were able to work with our venue to establish a small deposit since we had booked so far in advance and we have secured our date for our wedding. Your wedding venue is the essential piece to make sure that your wedding is exactly how you want it so make sure that you do your homework and don’t settle until you find exactly what you want.