You’re excited to get this wedding planning started!!! You jot down all the cool locations and start making plans to visit all the beautiful venues that you’ve pinned on pinterest…am i right? ;) I know your pain and I want to help you but we have to crawl before we walk :)
Believe it or not, the first thing you need to do is make a rough guest list because you need the approximate total number of guests attending to determine if the venue has the capacity to hold all your friends and family. We made an A & B list, I know it sounds horrible but it has to be done. Traditionally you get 50% of the total and your respective families contribute 25% each but that’s tradition and you absolutely DO NOT have to follow it. Invite the special people in your lives, it’s your day and in the end always do what makes you happy and fits within your budget.
When you start listing down names, don’t think much about it just keep writing them down…. immediate family of course, grade school friends, camp friends, high school, college, roommates etc. This will be your dream list if you can invite everyone you want. You will refine the list down further by crossing out names of people you haven’t spoken with recently, we did 1 year. If either of you have not spoken to them in 3-4 years cross them out. Ask your parents to do the same and in the end you will have a ballpark figure of how many people will potentially be attending. Don’t worry you can whittle down the list further at a later date, we are just looking for a number so we can start looking at wedding venues.
Now close your eyes…. where have you pictured your dream wedding? Are you on the beach? Your favorite museum? An old historical building? Write it down and make a list of the venues. Next start calling and ask what their max capacity is, your list will start to narrow down. Take the remaining venues on the list and start making appointments to schedule walk through tours to find the perfect one.
Here is a list of tips to.
- Venue size. Have a rough estimate of the number of guests you’re planning to invite to your wedding versus the number of people the venue can comfortably hold. The space may look big upon visiting but when the chairs and tables are added it can get crowded quickly. A crowded reception can be quite uncomfortable and if a venue is too large, it can affect the atmosphere by feeling empty and affect the overall look and feel. Having an initial head count will help eliminate venues that cannot accommodate your number of guests.
- Types of venues: Hotel Wedding Venues, Banquet Halls, Country Club Weddings, Barn Weddings, Lofts, Historic Home, Historical Museums, Theaters, Restaurants, Vineyeards, Beach Weddings, Boat Weddings, Libraries, Gardens.
- Catering. Usually venues have their own in house catering but make sure to ask if you need to look for an outside caterer. Typically the venue will have a preferred vendor catering list. This is a nice option because you don’t have to start from scratch, you have a short list to choose from and they have worked with the venue before so you don’t have to worry about logistics or extra outside catering fees.
- Preferred vendors. You’re going to be working with several different vendors in the time leading up to and on your wedding day. Many venues require you to use their vendors so find out about this before you make a booking. If they do work with specific vendors, make sure that you’re happy with their experience, style, personality, and pricing. When a venue works with preferred vendors, it does mean they’re confident in their experience and ability to delivery but it’s more important for you to choose vendors that fit in with your budget and overall preferences.
- What about the drinks? Alcohol and drinks are a big part of your wedding so it’s important to find out whether you can bring your own alcohol and what the costs are or if the venue will supply the drinks. Are there different tiers of pricing for top shelf and bottom shelf liquor? What are the corkage fees if you bring your own? Since you will also need a licensed bartender to serve alcohol, find out whether the venue can assist with this so that you can factor those costs into your final budget.
I know, its hard to make the decision and there are many different factors to consider when choosing the perfect wedding venue but make sure that it’s a space that speaks to your personalities and style as a couple. Best of luck! Now go schedule those walk through tours :)