Last post we examined what to consider while looking for your ideal wedding venue. It all begins with narrowing down your budget and must-have list so you know what to look for. This week we focus on the actionable steps needed to book your dream venue!
1. Do Your Research
Start simple – peruse websites for venue suggestions and create a master list where you can record details on all the top contenders.
Look through Photographer and Wedding Planner portfolios as another source of inspiration or to find locations.
Try to find pictures online of other weddings using that space. Check both the venue website and do a google search so you’re not solely relying on venue glamour shots (showing their place off in the best light possible).
Above all else, ask around and look at reviews! A venue may be the most picturesque space you’re ever seen, but if past couples have had issues you’ll want to examine that a bit. Situations such as the owner or venue coordinator fail to deliver, are irresponsible, unresponsive, or just plain rude – may greatly impact your overall experience. Interactions such as those can greatly influence your wedding planning and are enough to negatively change your mind about a place.
2. Schedule a Walk-Through
A walk-through is a physical tour with a venue staff member. They’ll provide an overview and it’s your opportunity to get the details. The actual act of scheduling a tour is usually pretty easy. It’s typically just a matter of booking through the venue’s website, sending an email or making a quick call.
Honestly, if it’s significantly more complicated than that or if they don’t respond to your inquiry in a timely manner, consider how much you like the venue. There are always exceptions, but this could be a red flag.
3. Ask Questions
While on your tour, be sure to ask the following:
What dates & times are available?
What is the maximum number of guests – Standing? Seated?
What is the fee?
What is included in the cost?
Are there any additional fees?
Do you have a required vendors list or a preferred vendors list?
What restrictions do you have?
What is the parking situation?
What is the payment policy?
What is the cancellation policy?
How many hours are included with the rental?
How early can you set up and how late can you break down?
Are insurance or permits of any kind required?
4. Take Notes and Pictures
Be sure to document your walk-through. Even if you have a super impressive memory, chances are you will not retain all of the details and answers to every question you ask. Include all of the specifics your tour guide unleashes upon you during your walk-through. Taking notes and photos to capture details will help eliminate error in recalling the finer points.
I learned this the hard way early on when taking these tours. Even though I fully intended to remember the details, unless I was taking pictures on my Iphone – it didn’t happen. I’d leave the venue and realize I had already forgotten a chunk of the specifics (well damn...).
Don’t let this happen to you. Show up equipped with your notebook, phone, whatever – just do yourself a favor and jot it down (and/or snap away)!
5. Go with Your Gut
As practical as your ultimate decision should be, don’t disregard your instinct. If you walk into a venue and dislike it despite all of the benefits, you will probably regret it. Maybe you can’t afford your fairytale venue or travel the distance to your dream destination, but you should not feel like you’re settling.
You should be excited when you visualize your big day taking place at this location. Now I’m not saying you need to be head over heels in love (after all you’re marrying your S.O. not the venue), but you DO need to see strong potential and be enthusiastic and eager about what you can do to make it your own.
6. Sign the Contract
SUPER IMPORTANT: Know all of the specifics before signing ANYTHING. Make sure the details can be found in your contract, all of them. Any kind of negotiation point, should be in the contract as well – because… well...things happen. Protect yourself and your financial (and emotional!) investment.
Also, please be aware (because I’ve heard of many couples experiencing this), if you are holding the date or are penciled in with the venue, things can change. Every venue has their own set of policies when it comes to booking. However, a good rule of thumb, until you sign the contract and present payment you are not locked in.
Most places grant you the courtesy of letting you know if another inquiry for your date comes along – but this is just that, a courtesy. Being “almost” confirmed with a venue won’t save you in the end if they give your date away.
So, please DO be sure you want to 100% book with a venue before signing (or you will most likely lose your deposit if you change your mind). But once you find your ideal venue, remember to sign the contract ASAP.
Selecting a venue may come down to priorities. It’s not likely that one single venue has EVERYTHING you want. So it may come down to what do you want most? Ask yourself what’s important. If there are many items that feel significant in your search, list them and prioritize.
THE VENUE IS IMPORTANT, BUT NOT THAT IMPORTANT
Finding your ideal venue is one of the most (if not the most) significant decisions you’ll need to make with your wedding planning. It can be a very involved process, so it’s easy to feel swept up and consumed by the need to find the “perfect” space.
However, don’t lose sight of the reason why you want the space to begin with. It’s a backdrop to your love story; it is not THE story. This day is a celebration of you, your S.O. and this next chapter in your lives together. Remember that!
I hope this helps and good luck with your search! If you have any questions, please comment below!