By Rebecca Padgett
Ah, the venue! To many, this is the first major step and the key to wedding planning. This is the space and place where you will say “I do” and then celebrate your commitment and love with friends and family. It is where all of your pictures will be documented to memory. It is the gateway allowing you to find the remainder of your vendors. Essentially, it all begins with the venue.
The power of the place is pretty overwhelming, but if you are well researched and prepared, it is one of the most memorable moments in the planning process. As someone who has recently selected her own wedding venue, I’ve compiled a guide to finding your very own venue.
Location, Location, Location
Let’s start at the beginning. The easiest way to dive into the venue search is to decide on a city. It could be your hometown, the city where you and your fiancé met, a destination wedding or a beautiful city you pick at random. Once your city is selected, take into account its weather, tourist season, significant events, etc. Then plan for the time of year most ideal for you. With these factors in mind, you can also determine if you want an indoor, outdoor or a combination wedding.
Many venues would like a rough estimate of how many guests could be in attendance. Sit down with your fiancé and draft up a tentative guest list. Setting a budget is also something you should do beforehand. These two pre-planning tasks will help narrow your search for venues that fulfill your guest list and budget requirements.
Hit The Web
With these previous steps decided, do what anyone in the digital age would do — Google their website, search their socials and even seek out their ratings. Make your search vast. While you may already have some venues in mind, it never hurts to consider all of your options; you might find something you didn’t even know about.
Personally, I found it best to schedule all of my tours within the span of two days. I wanted to see the venues one after the other so they could all be fresh in my mind. This is particularly helpful for those who are travelling and having destination weddings. Keep in mind, that most venues have events scheduled over the weekend, so weekday tours may occur. Even if you think you know what venue you want, I would recommend touring it. This will allow you to ask questions, meet with the venue director and envision your own wedding there.
This is not a hold all questions until the end of the tour situation. While I do suggest preparing a list of questions beforehand, I also encourage asking questions as they come to you. Ask them right away so you don’t forget them. With that, never feel like you are asking too many questions. There is no such thing, especially when you are spending a significant amount of money on an important life event.
Whether you’re sitting down to sign a contract or looking through the list of services provided, read everything. Make sure you are comprehending what is included and ask for further clarification if something is hazy. The worst would be to be swindled into extra costs because you didn’t read carefully or understand. Reading the fine print can seem cumbersome, but take your time. You should not feel rushed to make a decision.
Trust Your Gut
I’m a big believer in this, in general, but especially when it comes to a decision that will impact much of your wedding day happiness. If your questions seem burdensome, if the tour feels rushed, if the contract seems off, if you feel anything but welcome and happy, it’s not the one for you. If something feels wrong, it is. You know how you knew your fiancé was the one you would marry? That very same feeling should occur when you find your venue. You will know it’s the one.