One of the first steps you should take after getting engaged is finding the perfect wedding venue. Depending on what time of year you would like to get married, many wedding venues now days are booking up over a year in advance!
Here are a few major questions you should ask yourself on your quest to finding that perfect venue for your big day.
What season are you thinking?
Remember that there are 4 BEAUTIFUL seasons in a year, and there is something different about each one! If you have always dreamed of a summer wedding, you better get on the ball as there are a number of other brides out there thinking the exact same thing. If you prefer a winter wedding, that narrows down your options a lot as there are not nearly as many venues that can hold all of your guests inside. For fall and spring, you will need a rain plan in case of bad weather. Mike and I decided on a winter wedding for a number of reasons, but mainly because it is different. We love our Montana summers and didn’t want to give up those weekends for another wedding, and I love dazzling events with unique touches so Montana wedding in a small town covered in snow seemed like the perfect fit.
How many Guests are you Inviting?
Your guest count can make your venue decision a whole lot easier… or more difficult. If you are thinking of a small and intimate wedding, then your possibilities are endless. You can do a destination wedding in Mexico, to an adorable backyard wedding at your very own home. Another thought on your guest list, is your venue able to accommodate last minute changes? I.e. can they add more tables and chairs if the guest count gets higher than expected? The last thing you want is to have more guests than you are prepared for. With our wedding being held next winter, we can’t exactly send our guests outside if the venue gets full. Make sure to have that conversation with your venue right away. Ask what the maximum guest count can be and make sure you aren’t inviting any more than that!
What is your budget?
This question should be on the top of your list,especially since it will help you narrow down your options! Make sure you sit down and look at your entire budget from the very beginning, that way you know where you will have a little wiggle room if you find that perfect dress, venue or photographer that you just can’t live without. It doesn’t do you any good to go on a visit and fall in love with a venue that is nearly impossible for you to afford. That would be like trying on a $20,000 gown before looking at the price tag! One of the first questions I asked when making calls to venues was what their rental fee was. I also asked for all other costs to be thrown into the mix. Depending on the venue, there may be other costs that are required besides the space rental. If it is a hotel or a resort, they may require a certain number of rooms be rented out or a catering dollar amount to be purchased. Depending on the time of year, they may also require a night stay minimum. Some venues only operate with packages which can be to your benefit if that is what you are looking for (food and beverage, chairs, tables, and servers all included) or can ending being far too expensive. I had a venue that I called which required a five night minimum for the entire resort. Not even going to mention what that price estimate was but I will tell you that I laughed for a very long time!
Where are your guest accommodations?
Are your guests able to easily get to and from your venue? If not, do you have a shuttle for the safety of your guests at the end of the night? One reason that hotels seem to be so popular when it comes to weddings is because of the ease for all of the guests! There are not nearly as many logistics involved for your wedding guests when they are attending your event and staying in the same place. Plus, you are less likely to have guests that are late because they don’t have the “I got lost” excuse. Guests really appreciate when you take the time to help them with their accommodations as well. Be sure to look into getting a discounted rate at the nearest hotel or to work out a rate with your venue contact. It makes life much more simple when your event, transportation and lodging details are all including in one place.
What is your VISION?
All right ladies (and gents), this is where the venue searching gets fun. It’s important to get through all of the key logistics before deciding what you want, but from there it’s all about the two of you! You’ve decided on the time of year, the approximate guest count, and your price range, now dream a little! What do you see when you picture your wedding day? Are you in the middle of a gorgeous vineyard on a bright summer day? Mountainous backdrops at the beginning of a colorful fall? Barefoot and sun kissed on a breath taking beach? Dream it, and go with it… then as this dream venue of yours starts to come to life after a number of phone calls, schedule a visit and go check it out with an open mind. Don’t stress too much as I can say from my experience I had a gut feeling and all signs pointed to our final decision. Once we decided on a winter wedding, I knew that I wanted an adorable rustic lodge with a gorgeous rock fireplace. When I had a feeling about “the place,” I set up a time for both Mike and I to take a visit. From the moment that I walked into the space I completely fell in love. The fireplace was on, the place felt so cozy, and the service was fantastic. It was hard for any other venue visit that I made to top that experience, so the decision was easy
Once your decision is made, move forward and don’t look back! There is a reason you had that “feeling” on your site visit. Getting that key venue and date decision out of the way makes it simple to start deciding on decorations, colors, themes, etc. Be happy about checking such a big decision off your list and celebrate! You have now laid the ground work for your perfect wedding day and there is nothing but fun to come.