Wedding venue hunting is the first major “to-do” when planning a wedding. So, where do you even start? How do you identify a style, a vision or theme? Various styles (and locations) of venues exist, such as hotels, barns, mansions, farms, estates, beaches, islands, tents, etc. It is vital to identify a venue style before you even start your search.
So, how exactly do you identify your style of venue?
Do you like bright lighting, wood, original charm, trees, or nature? Or, is moody, intimate lighting, exposed brick, stone or exposed pipes your thing? It might also be glam with bright whites, lights, draping or elegant décor which is most suited for a grand hotel. What’s your Pinterest board like? Is it bright, colorful styles or dark, moody and edgy? Looking at colors, florals, and even clothing can help you figure out the perfect style for your wedding.
Typically, couples seeking a rustic venue can expect a country setting while couples looking for an industrial one should begin their search in cities. Narrowing down a general vision or theme is surely a great place to start when seeking out your wedding venue; with nearly hundreds of options, you have to start somewhere!
Considering details like guest size, amenities, budget and accommodations could narrow your search even more.
Touring and Booking Your Wedding Venue
It is extremely important to have a general idea of what your wedding day will look like before searching for venues or booking tours. You should ensure you are only looking at venues that can fit your wedding size and/or are within your budget.
Venues book up fast and your time may be limited to tour spaces, so it’s important to be maximizing your time by only looking at venues within your reach!
Keep in mind details such as:
* Desired date (season, month or year)
* Approximate guest size (it’s ok if this information is not final, but it’s very important to know if your guest count is within the venue’s capacity)
* “Non-negotiables”: The features you must have to make your wedding day perfect for you (like climate-controlled rooms, bridal suite, indoor/outdoor ceremony location, tables, and chairs, etc.)
* Your budget (Overall budget, as well your budget for the venue alone)
Knowing your budget before you start searching for a venue is very important because you do not want to waste time seeking out venues with a price tag higher (or lower) than you are comfortable spending.
Once you narrow down some venues, it’s time to reach out to schedule a tour. But here is a pro tip: be cognizant of the venue’s response time. This is a great indicator of what the communication will be like if you decide to get married at that location.
Start evaluating the venue from the very beginning, from inquiry and touring process, to when you officially book. These are all good indicators of what your entire experience will be like at that location.
Once you are touring the venue, ask questions! Be mindful of how the venue’s staff members treat and communicate with you during the tour. Are they on time? Do they have marketing materials ready for you? Are they ready and able to answer questions? I know for myself, when I conduct tours at Historic Ashland, I am essentially courting each couple: creating an enjoyable meeting space, offering beverages, and ensuring they are comfortable and feel heard. Remember, this process is an interview for both sides.
It is crucial that you take notes during the venue tour. Write down how you feel with both the staff and the property itself. Some of my couples tour 10+ venues before making a decision, so you are going to want to take notes!
Here’s another pro tip: go into the tour with a list of 3 non-negotiables (such as plenty of space for dancing, patio for evening activities, pet-friendly, on-site parking, etc.). This will allow you to not only remain focused but will also assist you in your decision-making.
Once you decide to book, you can expect a proposal with a contract and an invoice. It is standard for venues to request at least 50% of the total event fee to reserve your date. Remember to ask during your meetings, what will this process look like. At Ashland, for example, we have a whole process in place, including post-booking consultation, bridal kit, etc. Double-check with the venue how much support you will have after you are officially booked.
In summary, venue searching is one of the most important processes you will go through when planning your wedding. Remember to take time to identify what you want and what you don’t want in a venue. Ask questions during the tour and take notes on your feelings and the overall attitude of the venue’s representatives. And don’t forget to ask about the support you will have in order to make your special day everything you dreamed of!
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Leah Nadu graduated from Elizabethtown College with a Masters of Business Administration. Leah opened Historic Ashland, an award-winning wedding and event venue in Central Pennsylvania, in 2017. In two short years, Ashland has produced over 100 events and awarded 5 industry awards including Best Party Venue & Best Instagram Feed of York, PA. You can find Historic Ashland online at historicashlandevents.com or on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @historicashland. Leah can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org