You have reached the point in the planning process where you have figured out a budget and narrowed down your guest list. So, what’s next? Before selecting any of your major vendors, it is time to pick a venue! I say again for the people in the back- BEFORE hiring anyone else for your big day, select your venue. I cannot stress this point enough because this is what will dictate everything for your wedding. From the date, to the decor, to how many people you can actually invite. This is the biggest decision you will make right away.
I’m not trying to add to the stress by creating a pressing timeline, but, the venue selection is crucial to getting started and prime dates fill up fast. The last thing you want is to pick a photographer, pay a non-refundable deposit, find out your ideal venue isn’t actually available on the date you wanted, but now your photographer isn’t available on the new date. If this happens, you not only lose a deposit, but now you’re sad that you lost the photographer you have already started building a connection with.
There are many scenarios and personal experiences to consider, but let’s walk through what a venue search might look like:
You narrowed down the guest list and know that it needs to fit at least 150 people. This should be easy, right?
You either have ideas in mind that you’ve been looking at for months, or you need to do some research in the area you would like to be married in. What venues can fit 150 people? Do you have a specific date that means a lot to you that will need to be considered, or are you flexible?
Schedule tours. This can be exhausting. Try to plan them around the same time so you can compare while they are still fresh in your mind. Do you need to plan around your fiances schedule or is your MOH or mother coming along? When you schedule the tours, take the opportunity to ask a few major questions over the phone to avoid losing out on valuable time if already know it won’t work out.
Is the venue in your budget? If the venue is under budget, is it missing any key items that you will need to account for? Some venues are just four walls open for your use. They may be cheaper, but now you need to factor in the cost for rental items, extra decor, off-site catering, etc. Some venues are full service and require you to use their onsite catering or certain vendors that may be out of your price point. Get this information upfront when touring.
Have you decided on an outdoor wedding? Remember they are not always cheaper. Don’t ever rely on the wedding being in mid July to assume you won’t need a tent. No one wants to bake in the sun until it sets at the end of the night, and summer storms can happen at any time. Tent weddings also require lighting, portable bathrooms, tables, chairs, linens, a generator to power both the DJ/Band and the caterer. If this isn’t in your budget, start looking for venues that can hold your picture perfect outdoor ceremony but an indoor reception.
Ceremony and reception in different places? Remember the ease of access for guests, or how to account for distance in the day of timeline. I LOVE when family traditions are a huge part of someones special day. It just creates so many more memories. It isn’t impossible to use your family’s church (guest count depending), but try to find a reception space that is easy to get to so guests don’t get lost or delay the rest of the night.
Once the date is locked in and the deposit is paid, take that weight off your shoulder and move on to the next major vendors. The venue is just the beginning, but at least you now have better direction and a clearer budget for decor because you will know what the venue includes, what items they can include for an additional cost, and what you will need to bring in.