By: Akilah Canada
If you're newly engaged, chances are you have been pondering the perfect place to tie the knot. Deciding on your venue is easily one of the most important aspects of wedding planning. After all the venue does help you determine the rest of your planning process. But before you fall in love with the manor that's far above your budget or the barn that doesn't have electricity or plumbing, there are few things to consider. Here are some pointers to help you secure the best place for you to say "I do!"
By: Akilah Canada
When you're looking for your venue, the first thing you should ask yourself is "Can I afford this?". During the planning process it is essential you stay within your budget. If you have set a $4,000.00 budget for the venue, don't torture yourself by looking at the venue that's $10,000.00. If you exceed your venue budget, you're taking funds away from other wedding necessities such as catering or photography. There are tons of wedding websites that can provide you pricing information for local wedding venues that can be a huge help.
Another major thing to think about when locking in a venue is the guest capacity. Does it accommodate your estimated guest list? You'll want to be sure you have a space big enough for all of you and your fiancés families and friends. You wouldn't want to hurt any feelings or step on your future in-laws toes by having to cut their best friend's daughter, because your space isn't big enough.
Most venue's will have a website that has a calendar showing what dates are booked and what dates are up for grabs. You'll want to make sure you check the venue's is available for your wedding date. And then you'll want to check again. I cannot stress this enough. If the venue is available and accommodates all of your needs, book it as quickly as possible.
Knowing what wedding style or theme you want for you wedding is also a major determining factor. Are you aiming for a rustic theme or more of an elegant, royal, wedding? The layout and style is key to upholding your wedding vision. If you want something more casual or whimsical, you're less likely to want to wed in a banquet hall. If you're aiming for something with more of a country touch look at something such as a barn or a farm. Just be sure your wedding location reflects the ambiance you want to create.
Location! Location! Location! This is extremely important. Think about how accessible the venue is for your guests. Looking for something centrally located is a great way to ensure guests are able to transport themselves to the venue. If you're venue is off the beaten path include a map and directions in your invitations or even consider providing guest transportation (trollies, buses, etc.).
Easily one of the biggest things to think about before deciding on your venue, are venue restrictions. I cannot stress how important it is for you to research your potential venues and their policies! First and foremost, determine if the venue can be used for both ceremony and reception or just one. If you are planning on having a religious ceremony outside of the traditional church, temple, mosque, etc., make sure the venue allows religious ceremonies. You will need to find out about what vendors you are able to work with. Some venues have preferred vendors but still allow you to use outside vendors (caterers, decorators, coordinators, etc.). Others aren't so easy going and require you to use specific vendors. This is something you will definitely want to think about before signing any contracts or laying down deposits. If you are wanting to serve alcohol be sure to ask what the venues liquor policy is. Some will only beer and wine. Some will have a full service bar (cash or open) and some will even allow you to bring alcohol in on your own. Keep in mind that when serving liquor, the venue also may require you to have a licensed bartender serving or a police officer on sight. Make sure you ask about a venue's decorating policy as well. Some will let you do whatever you would like so long as the venue is cleaned up afterwards. Other venues have strict rules about decorations and might not allow you to move and arrange things to your liking. Ask if you are able to access the venue the evening before you wedding to do some decorating to ease yourself of some of the stress. Make sure to completely review their policies in writing so you understand what can be expected from them and what the venue expects from you.
Ask your venue contact about any services included with the venue and if the venue is full service. Some venues provide things like lighting, linens, tables, chairs, and sound equipment. Others don't. It is important to ask for both planning and budgeting reasons. If you have to make additional rentals for tables or linens it could cut into your budget. As mentioned above, make sure you ask if there is a possibility for you to set up a day before. If you are looking to lighten your load ask about on sight decorators, coordinators, and caterers. Be sure to make sure venues have restrooms and any other major amenities you may need (I know asking about bathroom seems stupid but trust me, most barns don't come equipped with a toilet).
Privacy and Parking
These are two things that can be easily overlooked, until the your wedding day of course. Imagine booking a gorgeous mansion and arriving on you big day to find out someone's hosting their grandma's 85th birthday in the mansion's backyard. Unless you're okay with having to deal with traffic and noise from another event at the same venue, make sure you inquire about their privacy policies and how many events they will book per date. Ask them if there is a way to reserve the entire venue. You should also brace yourself for tons of strangers walking by a given location. They might wave, smile, or even give you well wishes. However, if this is not something you want to deal with look for a venue on private property or a place that will provide/allow security. Also consider the venues parking. Look for a venue near a large parking lot, parking garage, or a large street with plenty of (legal) parking. If parking is an issue you could consider providing your guest with transportation.
In a later post I will provide a PDF printable checklist of questions to ask when choosing a venue. Be sure to check us out next week. I'll be starting a mini series on my favorite Central Iowa wedding venues.