When it comes to choosing a wedding venue, you might think about inquiring about the basics, such as rates and capacity. The venue sets the tone for your entire wedding and should be a place that leaves you feeling totally confident about your big day. But, choosing a good wedding venue can really make or break your planning experience. Everything and everyone come together and centers around the wedding venue, so keep these things in mind when choosing yours:
1.) Practicality: Think in terms of ease & practicality for your guests and for you. Granted it is your wedding day, so asking people to go to your church or temple then drive an hour to a reception is fairly common and people will obviously do it; but will this give you more stress? It’s definitely going to take away from your guests experience. How will the guests get from the multiple locations? Will it cost your more money? Are the added variables of what could go wrong (for example if your wedding is in the winter, will a long drive between venues potential lead to travel hazards?). There really is no right or wrong answer to this, it depends on time of year, weather, costs, size of the wedding, and so on. Just something to consider.
2.) Vision: Get clear on your vision before the wedding venue visits. Go H.A.M. on Pinterest. Seriously, get on it ASAP. When it comes down to actually visiting wedding venues, you should already know what you want to envision. Think about what you do and do not want on your big day.
3.) Due Diligence: Check reviews on multiple online platforms: WeddingWire, The Knot, Facebook, Instagram, Google Reviews, and Yelp! I know this may sound excessive, but heads up, people buy reviews! Seriously, it’s a thing. Chances are they are not buying reviews on ALL of the above platforms though. So make sure you get as clear of a picture as possible. Also, don’t be afraid to skip over friends recommendations. They may have different tastes or budgets than you, so do you own due diligence. Do this before visiting the wedding venues too, because it will give you more knowledge on questions to ask or warning signs to be wary of.
4.) Ask the Right Questions: Keep your eyes open for red flags during the initial visit. During your initial visit you should be asking tough and specific questions, and if your gut isn’t feeling it, back out. If you happen to be doing a hotel/resort wedding (or even just getting a block of rooms somewhere but doing your wedding somewhere else), I highly recommend actually staying at the location and seeing all the rooms your guests may experience prior to booking. Another thing to keep in mind, sometimes resorts or hotels are undergoing renovations in sections. They may show you the nicest rooms, but remember to ask if all the rooms look like this and if they don’t ask to see those too. If there are different grades of rooms, you may be able to negotiate the nicer rooms into your block.
5.) Refreshed & Rejuvenated: Ask about renovations. During your planning visit, ask if the venue has any scheduled renovations or large projects planned during the time of year you are considering. The last thing you want is for that gorgeous view you fell in love with to be obstructed; or not have access to the spa if you planned on spending some time in the saunas or steams de-stressing before (or after the craziness. Keep in mind that just because none are planned at that time, it doesn’t mean renovations will not come up.
6.) Red Tape: Check the venue’s vendor policies. One of the worst things is to fall in love with a wedding venue, who only allows you to work with a small list of approved vendors. Do not assume that because the wedding venue is great, their list of vendors is great. This can be a total headache if this list is out of date or not your style. Sometimes venue’s will charge you an additional fee if you stray from the list, some wedding venues won’t let you stray from the list at all. Spend the time looking through the vendors and meeting with them before signing on with the venue. Chances are you are paying the venue a rental or usage fee of some sort, make sure you comb through the fine print for any additional hidden fees.
In closing, don’t forget your standard questions for a wedding venue: availability (if you have a specific date or time of year); rates, capacity, restrictions, transportation/parking, caterer (in-house or outside – if outside what is the re-heating situation like), hidden fees/extras (security, additional hours, set up and breakdown fees, music has to stop at a certain time, etc.