Choosing where you will host the most important event in your life is not a decision to take lightly. While the butterflies are still fluttering from the engagement, it is easy to get swept off your feet when planning the first details of the wedding. We like to call it the “Blissful Bride”. When the Bride is so excited to get a few items marked off her to-do list that she is more prone to making rash and impromptu purchases.
The problem lies that selecting a venue is usually one of the first items that a couple would like to finalize. And making a decision on where you will host the grand day, without first doing your research, can set an unpleasant tone for your budget and the rest of your planning. Before saying, “Yes” to the venue, consider these few details:
Decide on a Date
You need to first decide whether there is one specific date you want to get married on or if you are flexible with the availability of the location you choose. If your date is a must- then the availability of a venue on that date controls everything. If they are not available, you don’t move forward with touring. If you are flexible with your date, then narrow down your wedding to a month or season so that you can write down a venue’s availability upon contact.
Begin an Online Search
Begin searching and viewing venue information online. There are hundreds available, so it may take some time to filter through all the options. Using your estimated guest count (you need to have a rough guest list compiled before searching for a venue) view the capabilities of each venue on their seating capacity. Avoid over seating and making concessions for locations that are just too small to host your wedding- you don’t want your guests to be miserably stuffed. Narrow down your list to no more than six venues.
Tour. Tour. Tour.
A picture may be worth a thousand words, not in this case. A photo of a venue online doesn’t accurately show you the environment; you need to visit the space in person to see it for yourself. It could be more run down than the photos are alluding to, maybe there is a little stench in the air your can’t endure, or the main room looks nice, but the bathrooms, entrance, and overall guest experience is not going to be ideal. If you can fall in love with a bare bones room with no pretty flowing linens, lush floral centerpieces, and an adorned cake that is ready to be cut, then you will later love it even more when it has all of those things in it. Fall in love with your venue for what it is, not what it could be.
Consider What “Bare Bones” Means
Where there is an urban loft or what we like to call a “four-wall rental”, there is commonly money set aside to decorate the space and make it feel wedding-like. As mentioned before, pretty pictures of what previous couples have done to the space are nice, but remember that you will have to spend the same money to decorate the venue in your personal style. There are some amazing locations that fall under this category, and you shouldn’t be scared to reserve your date at these places; just take into account that you need to allow for a higher decoration budget.
Estimate All Expenses
Before signing on the dotted line at your dream-come-true venue, make sure to request a full estimate of expenses related to the wedding. Some places are forthright about this information and others you will need to initiate the conversation. Within the estimate, include the rental fee, taxes, food and beverage costs (or example costs, you can taste test later), liquor/bartending fees, coordinator fees, gratuities, and service charges. If needed, provide an estimate of guests (it is recommended to shoot high) that will be in attendance. You should know the total (nearly to the penny) for what you are signing up for.
Be Aware of Venue Requirements
After you know what expenses are incurred within the venue, you need to consider any alternative expenses that you will need to pay in order to host your event at this location. For example, the venue will only grant you access four hours prior to the start of your event to decorate the space. Chances are that during this time you are either taking photos with your bridal party or…oh yeah, getting married! Therefore, you will need to hire a decorator or day-of coordinator to assist in getting the space in order prior to guest arrival. Did the venue mention that you would need to provide proof of event insurance? If so, this is another cost that you will need to account for. Lastly, some cities and venue owners require that you hire security to be present at your event. Yet, another cost. Make sure to review the contract thoroughly with the venue representative so you are aware of the expectations you will need to fulfill in order for your event to take place.
Review the Payment Structure
Once you are aware of all the expenses that will be incurred by utilizing this venue, then discuss the payment options. It is typical that a deposit is required to hold the date. It is also common that this deposit is non-refundable if the event is cancelled. After you have paid your deposit, what is the breakdown of payments for the remaining balance and when are these installments due? Find out when your proof of insurance is due to the manager and if you are placing a damage deposit prior to the event, when you can expect for it to be returned if no damage is caused.
Don’t Sit on It
If this venue has mesmerized you from the moment you walked in and after discussing the finer details with the coordinator you have found that it fits in your budget and is manageable with the rest of your planning- then don’t sit on your decision to book it! While you are taking the time to review all of the details of making this space a part of your big day, others aren’t being as cautious, they could call and book the space simply off a picture they saw online (good thing you know better than that now). Make it known to the venue manager that you want the date for your wedding, if they will hold it for you, then great! If you need to put down a deposit in order to secure the date, then do so. The last thing you want to do after finding the perfect location is to lose it and to have to start all over again.