So, you’ve asked all the questions, interviewed and hired the perfect wedding officiant for your special day! (Not sure what to ask? Check out these tips for hiring a Wedding Officiant). Next question, WHERE do you want to get married? Today, we’re covering everything you need to know to find the perfect wedding venue!
Venue tours can be overwhelming; visiting castles, rooftop gardens, ocean-side settings and the like, all while staying within budget. You want your guests to have only the best memories of the day you shared with them. In order to accomplish this, you, your fiancé, your budget and your dreams will need to find a happy compromise.
If you’re looking at wedding venues, you likely know which season and month you want to get married in. As you’re touring, one of the first things you should ask is about the dates and availability they have. If you have a specific date in mind, confirm the date before doing a venue tour to avoid any disappointments. If the venue you want isn’t available on your preferred date, you and your partner will have to ask yourselves if you’re willing to compromise here.
Venues have fire codes, restrictions and by-laws like every other organization; meaning event rooms will have limits on people they can hold. If you’re planning a wedding with 200+ guests, it’s important to confirm your venue has the space. If they don’t, this may be an easy way to take this potential wedding venue (or some guests) off the list. Another consideration, just because a space can hold 200 people, doesn’t mean it’s a comfortable 200.
My husband and I originally planned a wedding for 17 people in the Dominican Republic. When we changed our plans to keep everyone in Ontario, our venue calls included confirming they would waive the guest minimum. It was also important that the space we went with didn’t make us or out guests feel like something was missing. In the end, we upped our guest list to 40, and the venue we booked could hold 80 people. That said, people were shocked because it fit our group so well – 80 guests would have been very crowded!
When planning your wedding, you can choose to take care of every detail or choose all-inclusive venues and/or packages. Imagine venues that provide space for your ceremony and reception, a caterer, and even tables with linens, chairs, plates, glasses and flatware. For our wedding planning process, an all-inclusive package was a great option. I was still in school, it was more cost-effective, and we were in charge of the fun stuff.
If you’re not interested in an all-inclusive package, some venues still have preferred or mandatory caterers they use. During your venue tours, get as much information as possible so that you can sit down and compare everything with your partner before making a final decision. With a one-stop shop, start thinking about your wedding day menu. This is YOUR day, and food is not something you settle on. If the menu isn’t to your liking, and the venue isn’t willing to work with you, head for the door!
Venues and Your Budget
Have you been dreaming of your wedding day since you were a child? When we’re young, we don’t understand the financial aspect to planning a wedding. Now that you do, if I can give any advice here, don’t sign a venue you can’t afford. If you spend all your money on one part of your wedding, you’ll have to make cuts elsewhere. I promise you this, you and your guests wants an overall wedding experience. It is essential to make time for you and your partner to research your desired location, average rates for the services you want, and get comfortable with your budget.
Note: Don’t be afraid to negotiate. Ask about access to a bridal suite, or a discount on linens.
With an all-inclusive venue, you’ll be hosting more than one event there. As you tour the space, ask yourself if it transforms well from ceremony to reception. Is there a separate space for a cocktail hour? Discuss the logistics of room transformation with the venue coordinators. Depending on the day and time of your wedding, look at using multiple spaces for the day’s multiple events.
Speaking of multiple events, will there be other weddings on the same day? What does that look like for you and your guests? My husband and I were married on a Tuesday at 11am. We had the entire place to ourselves and were able to use unique spaces for the ceremony, mimosa hour, and reception. If your wedding is at 3pm on a Saturday, there could be another wedding (or 2) going on.
Depending on what the venue is supplying, your decor decisions could change. Are the tables sturdy and big enough to seat guests comfortably? Do they have linens that work with your wedding colours? What’s new? What’s old? Is anything being replaced before you get married? If an all-inclusive package isn’t available, is beyond your budget, or just isn’t for you, take note of what you’ll be responsible for in order to host your guests at the venue you choose.
As you tour venues and talk with coordinators, ask about hidden fees, additional inclusions, and back-up plans. These can add up quickly, and the last thing you want on your honeymoon is to be blindsided by extra zero’s on your credit card. Speaking of back-up plans, don’t forget about weather! Considering an outdoor venue? As hard as you may try, sometimes Mother Nature has different plans. If weather is a factor, create a plan that allows your day to run smoothly and stress-free rain or shine.
When it comes to finding your Wedding Venue(s), it really comes down to your gut instinct. A tip; look up photographers who have shot at your potential venues and see what weddings have looked like in the past. My husband and I toured about 4 or 5 locations, and the minute we saw where we could be saying “I Do” at Liuna Gardens, we just knew that it was the place for us. Every venue we toured had pros and cons, but none gave us the feeling quite like Liuna. It checked off all of our boxes; in location, price, and amenities. Trust your gut, it won’t steer you wrong 🙂
xx The Grateful Brunette