5.25.2016

Wedding Wednesday: Things to Consider When Choosing A Venue


Of course the first thing you'll need to consider is the budget. Does the venue match what you're hoping to spend on a venue? Think about what is included and be sure to keep in mind additional costs. As I mentioned last week, I absolutely loved the barn we toured but it was slightly more than we hoped to spend. And when we considered the additional costs that would come with choosing that venue, we ultimately decided it was out of our budget.
Another important thing to consider is the location of your venue. Does it require any special form of transportation? Part of the reason we decided against the barn venue was because it was quite a long drive from the town our wedding guests would be staying in. This meant that we would have to arrange for a bus or shuttles to transport them from hotels. Because of the additional cost and coordination, we decided against it. If the location is somewhere that most guests will likely drive to, it's also important to ask about parking. Depending on the size of your wedding, you may need parking attendants.


I would suggest working on a guest list before you start looking at wedding venues. It would be tragic to find the venue of your dreams, only to discover they are unable to accommodate the size of your guest list. We knew we wanted to invite about 150 people to our wedding, which was the maximum for our venue. It was so hard narrowing down our guest list to make sure we stayed under than 150 mark. In hindsight, I would have invited more than 150 people, because of course not everyone can come. Even those who RSVP yes, often don't make it for unforeseen circumstances.
This is another big one that can impact your venue budget. We were lucky to find a place that included the tables and chairs for both the ceremony and reception. This was important to us because we didn't want anyone to have to worry about moving chairs between the ceremony and reception. (This would have been an issue at another venue we toured). In the beginning, I had planned to use their tables, but rent chairs that were more in line with my style. However, as we got further along in the planning process, we realized how much chair rentals would add to the overall venue cost, and had to eliminate them. I was so disappointed at first, but now I realize no one really notices the type of chairs you have. Other additional costs to remember are linens, glassware, utensils (unless your caterer provides them) furniture, decor, etc. All these little things add up.
If you have specific vendors you hope to use for Catering, DJ or Photography it's important to find out if the venue you choose has any restrictions on that. Often times, they will only allow you to use their "preferred vendors" which can limit your options. It's also worth asking if they allow you to bring your own alcohol. This can be a huge money saver and was part of the reason we chose our venue. They didn't have restrictions on alcohol so we were able to get kegs from a local brewery and source our own wine at Costco and BevMo. We were able to save a substantial amount of money because of this. And our caterer was included a bar tender with her staff, so we didn't have to worry about serving either.


Think about the overall theme you want for your wedding day. Are you going for a rustic and vintage feel? If so, a barn or outdoor venue may be perfect for you. Are you wanting a glamorous wedding? A classic hotel ballroom may suit your needs. For us, we wanted to create a romantic and classic day to share with family and friends. We both knew we wanted to get married outside, and the landscaping at Gold Hill Gardens sold us. It was beautifully maintained and with only a few personalized signs and decor items, we were able to create a romantic garden wedding.
Another important thing to remember is privacy and noise. This was important to us because we wanted a intimate wedding with our family and friends. One venue we toured was near a busy highway and a few motorcycles drove by when we were there. I wouldn't have thought about noise if that didn't happen so I'm glad it did. It would have been so distracting during the ceremony and of course it is something totally out of your control. The venue we chose was in a rural area, set back from the road on the property. There was no car noise and no risk of people "crashing" the wedding (although someone did)!  If your ceremony & reception is indoors, noise may not be a concern. But privacy is something to consider.


One thing we knew right away is that we wanted to have both the ceremony and reception at the same location. We didn't want our guests to worry about driving to another location, and that way we could have a cocktail hour between the ceremony and reception while we finished family photos. We only toured venues that could accommodate our wishes, which I think was beneficial. I'd recommend deciding beforehand what your venue needs are. This way, you don't waste time touring locations that ultimately won't work for you.
Since our ceremony and reception were at the same location, it was important the there was good flow between each area. This was something that our venue really knocked out of the park. Their landscaping is done so well, including pathways connecting each area. With the signs, it was easy to for guests to determine the ceremony location when they arrived. And there was a path that went from the ceremony site down to the cocktail reception and bar area. It was great because the cocktail party and bar area was lower than the ceremony site and reception tables and dance floor, so it felt like a completely different space. Almost like individual rooms. If both your ceremony and reception are at the same location, it would be helpful to have separate spaces like this.

We were having an outdoor only wedding, and took a risk by not having any sort of "plan B" because our venue didn't have any indoor space. They could however accommodate a large tent, so if the forecast changed to include rain, we would have been able to rent a tent and make do. Thankfully, the weather in our area is pretty reliable and we knew rain wouldn't be an issue. However, September can be HOT so that was a concern. Because of the heat, we made sure to ask about where the sun would be during our reception time, and if there were shady spots for the ceremony. As it turned out, the forecast was predicting temperatures over 100* on our wedding day. To say I panicked was an understatement. My sweet friend bought fans that we placed by the beverages at the ceremony site. That way guests could fan themselves during the ceremony. The cocktail area was shaded and near the pool which helped keep it cool. And thankfully, the venue set up sun umbrellas over the dinner tables that were quickly removed once the sun went down. I never even saw it happen! Thankfully, it only ended up being in the upper 80's and low 90's on our wedding day! If you're getting married in the spring or fall, when there is a chance of rain, it's important to ask what options the venue offers if that were to happen. Or, if you have a situation like we did where heat could be a factor, try to think of solutions to make your guests more comfortable.


Something I didn't think to ask about was outlets and access to electricity. This is especially important for the DJ and microphones during the ceremony. Our venue had two ceremony sites, I originally wanted to have the ceremony near an old oak tree, but there was no electricity available for the DJ. This was obviously really important both for our music, but it's such a bummer to be at a wedding when can't hear the ceremony. You'll also want to ask about where the DJ or band can set up and if there is enough power for their equipment.
With an outdoor wedding like ours, it's important to consider lighting. One of my favorite things about our reception area were the cafe lights. It created the romantic feel I was hoping for, and was just enough light for dinner. As it got darker, the DJ also had lighting for the dance floor so it never felt too dark. The venue also had the bar area and pathways lit very well, which made it easier for guests to get around. If you are planning to get married outdoors at a private residence or park, you may want to consider renting lights. And keep in mind the added cost this would incur.


I hope you find these tips helpful! I feel like I went in to our venue tours blind, without really knowing what questions to ask. Thankfully, most places are prepared and offer almost all the information you need on their own. But of course, some things are specific to each couple. Making sure you address all these items before signing on the dotted line and putting a deposit down on your venue can save you a lot of money on rentals in the long run. It's amazing how many little things come up, which ultimately affects the bottom line. 

I hope you enjoyed this installment of Wedding Wednesday! I'd love to hear your input and experiences finding the right wedding venue!  


7 comments:

  1. These are all fantastic things to consider when looking for a venue!!

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  2. vendor restrictions, ugh. I'm getting married at the same place my parents did (yay for tradition) but I didn't realize until AFTER I put down the deposit how expensive their vendor list is! definitely poor planning on my part but ugh anyway. :\

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  3. These are all such great things to think about!!

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  4. These are really important things to consider while choosing a wedding venue. Couple of months ago, I arranged my sister’s wedding at one of exotic Seattle venues. Hired a professional wedding photographer and hope to have awesome time.

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