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What questions should you be asking if a venue or vendor is right for you? How do you decide if a decision is the right one when you're planning your wedding? As a wedding planner based in the Finger Lakes region in Upstate New York, I've helped my couples find the perfect wedding venue countless times.
In today’s episode, I’m walking you through the 4 basic steps of the wedding venue selection process. Whether you’re just starting to plan your wedding, or you already have your venue chosen, this episode is going to be helpful because I’m going to talk about important things to consider when you’re making any kind of decision or choice for your wedding, not just your venue.
Not ready to shop quite yet? Make sure you save this post so you can come back to it later when you're ready to start your venue search.
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Highlights for this Episode: Finding the Ideal Wedding Venue for You in 4 Steps
Back when I was planning my wedding 10 years ago, I was still new to the event planning world. I think we visited 10 venues. We did NOT need to do that because it was overkill and wasted a lot of time. But I didn’t have a planner to help me focus, which is why I want to help you!
In today’s episode, I’m going to break down the venue selection process into 4 steps.
- Step 1: What kind or type of wedding of venue do you need and want? [5:45]
- Step 2: Where should you look for potential wedding venues? [12:40]
- Step 3: How to schedule your wedding venue tours [17:50]
- Step 4: How to pick you dream wedding venue [23:15]
Links Mentioned in Episode
- Martha Stewart
- Inspired by This
- Style Me Pretty
- The Knot
- Wedding Wire
- FREEBIE: Weding Venue Checklist – The Top 20 Most Overlooked Questions to Ask Your Wedding Venue
Thank you to our podcast sponsors!
If you prefer to read, here's the text . . .
What Questions to Ask When Picking a Wedding Venue
Back when I was planning my wedding 10 years ago, I was still new to the event planning world. I think we visited 10 venues. We did NOT need to do that because it was overkill and wasted a lot of time. But I didn’t have a planner to help me focus, which is why I recorded this episode for you!
If you're just starting to look for a wedding venue, you're probably asking yourself a few questions, like:
- How do I decide on a wedding venue?
- How much does a wedding venue cost?
- Do you pick a wedding date or venue first?
- How far in advance should you book a wedding venue?
- How do I find my dream wedding venue?
- How do you narrow down a wedding venue?
- What is the average cost to rent a wedding venue?
- What's the best month to get married?
In today’s episode, I break down the venue selection process into 4 steps:
- Step 1: Identifying what KIND of wedding venue is right for you
- Step 2: Obvious (and not so obvious) places to look for wedding venues
- Step 3: How to visit your wedding venue
- Step 4: Picking the wedding venue that's right for you
Step 1: What Kind of Wedding Venue Do I Need?
When you think about the kind of venue, there are 3 main aspects of your wedding you need to consider:
What kind of wedding ceremony venue will you need?
When thinking about your ceremony, it’s important to understand that:
- Both your ceremony type and style will affect your choice of venue.
- The ceremony location – whether it’s on the same property or somewhere else – will have a bearing on the flow of your day.
- Finally, your ceremony venue could have budget implications, such as additional rental fees or transportation requirements.
These are all important things to think about when considering what kind of venue you want to have.
What’s your wedding style?
There are many kinds and types of weddings and this will determine what kind of venue you pick. You might be like some couples that know exactly what kind of wedding you want to have. For example, you could want a boho wedding on top of a mountain with glamping, lots of flowers, nature, and a little relaxed. Or you may know you want a super elegant, black-tie wedding in a ballroom.
If you have no idea what kind of wedding you want to have, it’s okay.
I want you to pick THREE words to describe the style of your wedding. I want you to limit it to THREE words to give you focus and choose your priorities.
These words will serve as your compass during the planning process.
Remember: Your venue is the MAIN SETTING of your wedding. The style of your VENUE will determine THE STYLE OF YOUR WEDDING. To avoid choosing a place that doesn't align with your personal style, you want to be specific about what your wedding style is. This way, you're not spending money covering up a wedding venue to turn it into something that it's not.
Some words you could choose could be:
Notice that some of these don’t lend themselves to a particular type of venue. That’s okay. These are just going to help you narrow down the field when you’re looking at your options.
What Are Your Priorities?
Now that you know what kind of venue you want, and your wedding style, it's time to think about your wedding priorities, your non-negotiables.
Just like when you picked 3 styles words, I want you to pick – AND RANK – your top 3 priorities for the wedding.
These 3 top priorities are the main memories you want to remember about your day. If we were making a movie trailer or highlight reel of your wedding, these would go in that trailer or reel.
- Do you need space for a big band?
- Do you want something outdoors or the option to be outdoors?
- Do you want a blank canvas that you can customize with lots of decor, flowers, and whimsical details?
- Are you going to have an interfaith wedding that needs to a neutral ceremony venue?
Talk about your priorities with your partner. Make sure you’re both on the same page because it’s possible your perfect venue may not check all the boxes and you have to know what you’re willing to give up
Step 2: Where Do You Look for Wedding Venues
Okay. Now that you’ve figured out what kind of venue you want and your priorities, it’s time to start searching for venues.
There are so many places to look for wedding venues.
Below are a couple main ones that I think are most helpful:
Instagram is a great place to start by using geo-specific hashtags, like #austinweddingvenue or #vineyardweddingvenue if you care more about the type of venue but are open to traveling.
You could also try using regional hashtags with vendors, such as photographers, like #charlestonweddingphotographer. A lot of times they’ll include the location of where the photo was taken to help you get an idea of what some places look like.
Another awesome visual search engine is Pinterest. If you’re planning a wedding, you’re probably already familiar with Pinterest, but if not, definitely check it out.
As a very visual person, I love how you can see so many different styles of venues on Pinterest and the different vibes even just one venue can have.
3 – Blogs and Publications
There are major publications like Martha Stewart, Inspired by This, Bridal Musings, etc. that write articles for couples, but many vendors also have their own blogs on their websites and I think this is a better resource for venues because they’re located in the geographic area you want to get married.
And if you’re looking for a wedding venue in New York, definitely check out my blog because I have TONS of posts on different kinds of venues like ones in the Finger Lakes, ones in the Hudson Valley, intimate wedding venues, and so on. Some posts go more in-depth and feature specific venues.
4 – Using Search Engines like Google or directories, like The Knot and Wedding Wire to Find a Wedding Venue
The Knot and Wedding Wire are also fine places to look, but I’d try the other options first. I do have a listing on both directories, but I do want to point out that you have to pay to be able to put photos on your profile on The Knot (which I think is very annoying and doesn’t help the vendors or the couples find necessarily the best fit, but I understand they have to make money somehow.)
They’re great places to read reviews of different venues, too!
Step 3: Schedule Your Wedding Venue Tours
Once you’re done searching, narrow down your list to your TOP 3 (notice a pattern here?) venues BASED ON HOW THEY ALIGN WITH YOUR PRIORITIES.
If you're planning a destination wedding, meaning you're getting married somewhere that's more than an hour away, I recommend scheduling all of your visits for the same weekend. It might take some juggling depending on when the different venues offer tours, but it's good to see them within a short amount of time so they're fresh and you can compare them easily.
When you reach out to schedule your visits, make sure to include in your email the following:
- The time of year you're getting married (late spring, early summer, etc). I think it's better to give a time frame as opposed to just 1 date
- Your expected guest count
- How you heard about the property or what you like about it
- Request a pricing brochure if it's not already on the website
Telling them how you heard about them or what you like about the property will help you stand out to the venue owner. I always appreciate hearing why someone's excited to work with me as opposed to when someone uses the auto-message set up by The Knot.
It’s good to personalize your email to the venue and any other vendor for that matter so that you stand out to them. Yes, you’re vetting them, but they’re still going to be vetting you to make sure you’re a good fit for them. And who knows – maybe someone else is asking for the same date as you, but they like you better because you were nice to them!
After your visit, make sure you think about how each property meets the criteria you set.
Also, I do have a free venue visit checklist on my website – it’s called the Top 20 Most Overlooked Questions to Ask Your Wedding Venue.
Step 4: How to Pick Your Wedding Venue!
So now you’ve visited all the venues. Hopefully, 3 was enough. If you really need to, go ahead and visit 1 or 2 more if they didn’t get you excited.
Now it’s time to pick a venue! Remember, you already know what your criteria is for your wedding venue. So see how each one stacks up against your priorities.
If you’re having a hard time deciding, I’m going to ask you some questions I ask my couples.
Picture your wedding day.
What do you see?
Where are you getting ready?
Where are your parents going to get ready?
Where are you saying your vows and saying “I do”?
Where's everyone dancing? What does it look like?
Is it outdoors? Are you under a string of lights? Or are you in a ballroom?
Now, which venue looks like the one you just pictured? Which one gives you goosebumps or makes you a little teary because you just got emotional?
Usually my couples know.
If you’re still having a hard time picking, I want to remind you that picking a venue is like buying a home. It probably isn’t going to have every single thing on your wish list, but one of them is going to come close.
Once you’ve picked your venue, it’s time to request the contract and let the countdown begin!
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How to Pick Your Dream Wedding Venue
Let’s quickly review the 4 steps we went through:
Step 1: Decide on the TYPE of wedding venue
Use these questions to help figure out what you're looking for:
- What kind of ceremony are you having?
- What style or aesthetic do you want your day to have?
- What are your top 3 priorities for your wedding?
Step 2: Finding Your Wedding Venue
You can look on Instagram, Pinterest, Google, and Directories, like The Knot and Wedding Wire.
But the best place to look for a wedding venue is on the blogs of LOCAL WEDDING VENDORS who work in the area where you want to get married.
Step 3: Visit Your Top 3 Venues
Step 4: Pick the Wedding Venue That's Right For You
I hope this episode helped you either work through the venue selection process, or prepared you for it. If you have ANY questions, I’m more than happy to answer them!
Make sure you follow me on the podcast's new Instagram handle @asktheplannerpodcast. I respond to everyone!
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