Hooray! You’re engaged! You’ve announced it to your friends and taken lots of ring selfies. You’ve been dreaming of getting married in Upstate New York or maybe the Finger Lakes. And now you’re ready to check out some venues for real. You might be asking yourself some of these questions:
- Which wedding venue is right for me?
- What makes a good wedding venue?
- How do I pick my wedding venue?
- Where should I look for my wedding venue?
- How do I decide on a wedding venue?
- When should I look at wedding venues?
In this post, I guide you through the first steps you should take to avoid making common mistakes couples make when searching for a perfect wedding venue. A little work up front will save you so much time and focus your efforts on the right venues.
1) Choose a Theme or Vibe for Your Wedding
Before you look at any wedding venues in the Finger Lakes, ask yourself: What kind of day and mood do I want to create for my wedding? This usually aligns with your personal style, as well. Do you want it to be elegant and intimate? Do you want it to be casual yet refined? Having an idea of the day you want will help focus your search.
2) Put together a guest list
It's important you have an idea of how many guests will be partying with you. Are you celebrating with under 80 of your close family and friends? Or will you be inviting lots of extended families and social circles? Will most of them be local or out of town? Guest count plays a large role in where you can fit comfortably.
3) Choose a budget range
Related to guest count is your wedding budget. Your total number of guests has a significant effect on your budget. Some say, “The more the merrier.” I prefer to focus on quality time with family and friends as opposed to the number of people there. It makes for a better guest experience and often a less stressful planning process. So, have an idea of your budget range. This will allow you to cut venues that don’t make sense financially.
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4) Choose a wedding month
Once you know the size of the party and your budget, decide the time of year you want to marry. Ask the immediate family if they have conflicts during this time. If possible, choose a month or even a season you want to marry, not a specific date. The greater the flexibility you have, the more availability wedding venues will have. The average couple is engaged for 13 months. But some engagements can last longer if a couple wants to marry at a specific venue over popular dates.
5) Make a list of priorities
Have you watched Property Brothers? (Who hasn't?) I always laugh at couples with a laundry list of priorities for their dream home. When you have a list that long, the items aren’t actually priorities anymore. While it is possible for a wedding venue to have all the features you want, it's not always the case. Therefore, it is important to know what is negotiable and what's not so you are able to weigh your choices. Do you want a full bar and room for a band? Most vineyards in the Finger Lakes only allow their own wine. Do you want a rustic barn? Some barns have gravel paths that pose difficulties for guests with mobility issues.
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6) Talk to a Wedding Planner!
A good wedding planner will save you countless hours of time researching venues that aren’t a good fit for you. They make it their job to stay updated on the latest venues in the area. They will know which ones are a good fit and which ones won't work. They'll also know if new management has taken over and the quality of service has changed (for better or worse), or when new venues are opening. Planners also know of costs you might know to plan for. For example, some venues will need extra rentals like a catering tent or a restroom trailer. These are all things that you should know ahead of time before booking a venue!
Finding a venue can be tricky and one of the most stressful parts of planning your wedding. Make sure you work through these big questions first. Having the answers will keep you focused and make room in your life for more fun things, like spin class or that brunch date you keep rescheduling.
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