You're getting married!!!! If you haven't already decided where you're actually going to hold your wedding and/or reception, this post is for you. Finding a venue can sometimes feel overwhelming, but have no fear, follow these steps and you'll be all set.
1. Create your guest list. “What? Why do I need to do that first?” Because you don’t want to waste your time and energy looking at venues that are way too big, or way too small for the size of your wedding. So figure out who you’re going to invite, and have a relatively solid number of total people you expect to come. (this will also help you with your overall budget).
2. Know your budget. “What? I’m still sitting at my computer, what does this have to do with finding a venue?” You do not want to start your venue search, fall in love with a place, and then realize that it eats up ¾ of the budget for your wedding. It’ll make searching for other venues a disappointment instead of fun and exciting. Trust me.
3. Pick a date… or at least have a time of year in mind. The first thing most vendors, including a venue, are going to want to know, is if they’re available for your date. Planning a February wedding? You’re probably in luck and will have lots of options. Planning for October… I hope you’re starting early! (So many brides think June is the top month for weddings, but here in NC, October is the hot ticket. If you want a Fall wedding, plan to book early.)
4. Starting the search. Are you using a wedding planner? Let them (me) do the work for you!! Not using a planner right away? Open up that browser and head to wedding websites. They are your friend. BUT vendors have to pay for spots on wedding websites… do general web searches as well! You never know what might pop up for you.
5. Take a tour! Yay! You’ve reached the fun part. I would recommend touring at least 3 facilities. Why? Because even if you think you found a great place, it helps to be able to compare it and the inclusions/restrictions with other venues.
6. Find out about the inclusions/restrictions. “What are these?” When it comes to booking a venue, sometimes restrictions can put extra cost on the renter (that’s you). For example, maybe the venue fits into your budget, but they require the use of a certain caterer, and the caterer’s prices will not work for you. Or, maybe the venue fits into your budget, but it doesn’t come with ANYTHING. You have to rent the tables, chairs, linens, and pay extra money for setup and breakdown time. (These restrictions can be real deal-breakers sometimes). On the other hand, sometimes inclusions can be deal-makers. Maybe the venue comes with all the tables, chairs, linens, clean up, ready rooms, and will let you bring your own alcohol (a HUGE cost saver if you can take advantage of it!) Inclusions can end up resulting in real savings. Either way, make sure you know what you’re getting into with the venue rental.
7. Can you picture the space for your wedding? Does it have the right “feel?” Or, another way of thinking here is, “can I make this space what I want for my wedding?” If yes, wonderful! If no, time to do a few more tours.
8. Look over the contract. Make sure the venue can answer any questions you have about the contract before you send it in. Not sure what the security deposit covers? Ask. Not sure when you’ll be able to get in for your rehearsal dinner? Ask. Make sure you’re aware of these answers before you find yourself struggling with the schedule a few months before the wedding.
9. Send in the deposit. Once all of your questions are answered, lock that venue down as yours! Send in the contract and deposit. A few things to note: putting the cost on a credit card with miles may get you closer to your honeymoon, but be careful, lots of vendors charge a fee to cover the fees that credit card companies charge them. Alternatively, some places will give you a discount if you pay with cash/check so that the companies avoid that same fee. It never hurts to ask!
10. Celebrate. You now have a date and a venue! You’re getting married!! Booking all of your other vendors will start to flow easily. You’re well on your way to your Best. Day. Ever.