Episode Show Notes

Choose the Wedding Venue or the Planner First?

March 26, 2023

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Very early in the wedding planning process, many couples will ask, “Do you choose the wedding venue or the wedding planner first?” One of the most important decisions you will make early on in the wedding planning process is choosing your wedding venue, but the venue selection process is often fraught with overwhelm and indecision. On today's podcast, we explore the age-old wedding planning question – 

Do you choose the wedding venue or the wedding planner first?

If you just started your wedding planning journey, you may be asking yourself the following questions:

  • How far in advance should you book a wedding venue?
  • Should you hire a wedding planner?
  • What comes first in wedding planning?
  • What is the difference between a wedding venue coordinator and a wedding planner (more on that in a future post!)?

Whether you've stumbled here on a late-night Google search or are a long-time listener of our podcast, welcome! We love creating content you find helpful, but we love working with you more! If you are looking for a wedding planning team in Upstate New York, learn more about working with us here. Not ready to hire a wedding planner but still want support? You can find wedding planner quality templates here or book a clarity call to pick our brains about your wedding venue before you book!

Not ready to book your wedding planner or venue yet? Save this for later!



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EPISODE HIGHLIGHTS: The Wedding Venue or the Wedding Planner – Which Should You Book First?

To fast-forward to a specific part of the podcast episode, check out the timestamps below:

Wedding planners can help you

  • Should you visit the wedding venues first or with a wedding planner? [4:10]
  • Staying within your wedding budget. [6:58]
  • Bringing your wedding vision to life at the venue [8:25]
  • Asking the right questions during the venue tour [9:53]
  • Issue spotting and contract negotiations [10:55] 



1. Can a Wedding Planner Help You With the Venue Selection Process?

Even if you feel like you want to see “all the wedding venues” options, I promise you that you don't. I don't recommend looking at a venue that doesn't fit your budget or guest list. This can easily happen when you don't know your numbers, and through the excitement of feeling like you've found “the one,” you can find yourself signing on the dotted line before you know it!

On the contrary, if you choose your wedding planner before your wedding venue, they will force you to better understand what you are looking for. They will be able to proactively suggest venues that match your style, budget, and needs. On top of that, they often know of wedding venues that you can't find on Google or in the “top 10” lists you'll find online.

Photo credit: Coryn Kiefer Photography

Looking for wedding venues in Upstate New York? Here are 12 of the most intriguing!

2. Choose Your Wedding Venue or Planner First – What about the Budget?

One of the most significant benefits of hiring a wedding planner is that they can help you stay within your budget, no matter what your budget actually is! And regardless of whatever wedding planning platform is trending lately, there is no “right” amount to spend on a wedding venue. Whether you plan on spending $50,000 or $500,000, everyone wants to be wise with their money.

Often, wedding venues can look more or less expensive than they actually are because of the different inclusions and requirements of each unique venue. It can often feel like comparing apples to oranges! This is one of the reasons it's so important to hire a wedding planner before your wedding venue. We know what hidden costs and commitments to look out for!

3. Choose Your Wedding Venue or Planner First – Bringing Your Vision to Life

Let's leave the budget and process alone for a second. Sometimes, you'll tour a wedding venue and immediately know you have found the one. With that said, some couples have a harder time envisioning what their wedding day will look like, which is why having your wedding planner with you on the venue tour can be so helpful. Your wedding planner can suggest unique and innovative ways to make your wedding stand out. They will help you create a wedding that reflects your personality and style. Instead of staring at a lawn and a barn (for example), they can point out where you can have the bar for cocktail hour, what the ceremony view will be, and where the dance floor will be packed all night.

Photo credit: Alexandra Elise Photography

4. Questions to Ask on the Wedding Venue Tour and Contract Negotiations

Your wedding day has many moving parts – from catering and decor/rentals to the lighting and sound. If you choose to book the wedding venue before the planner, it will be hard to know what to ask during a wedding venue tour. We love them, but these venues are well-practiced in swooning you! You may not know what to look for in a contract.

As wedding planners in New York, it can be hard for us to do our jobs as effectively as possible when our couples come to us with visions of candlelight and then tell us they booked a venue that we know doesn't allow open flame candles. I could give you a million versions of this. When you book your wedding planner before your wedding venue, you have the support you need to book the right venue.

Want some help? Book our Wedding Venue Selection Services.

5.  Avoiding Costly Mistakes and Negotiating Contracts

One of the reasons it's so important to book your wedding planner before your wedding venue is so that you don't make choices that will cost you more (or force you to sacrifice!) in the long run. Just to name a few examples, you might: forget to budget for a catering tent, not see that the room is too small for a live band, hotels are too far, leaving you to pay extra for guest shuttles, or even something like having fewer hours to setup/tear down based on venue restrictions, so you end up having to pay more to get in early (or budget for extra staff).

I have to be honest with you; I have seen it all. If this is the first wedding you've planned, it can be hard to truly see a holistic picture of how everything will come together (your style/aesthetic, priorities, guest list, budget, contingency weather plan – the list goes on and on!). Even if you don't have it in your budget for full service planning and design, consider hiring a professional and experienced wedding planner that offers venue selection support!

Should You Book Your Wedding Venue or Wedding Planner First?

In my humble opinion, hiring a wedding planner before booking your wedding venue is essential. Not only can a planner help you find the perfect venue, but they also make sure your decision matches your vision both creatively and logistically. If you are on the fence about booking a wedding planner before your wedding venue, I hope this has encouraged you to hire your planning team first. You deserve to have support from the start (and we always believe that the earlier you bring your wedding planner on board, the better!).

Getting married in Upstate New York (or beyond)? Connect with us here and let's get started!

Not ready to book your wedding planner yet? Save this for later.