Post # 1
I am clueless and would appreciate your advice!!! I just went to a bridal show, and now have a nice spreadsheet of a bunch of venues, their prices, if they do catering, if they have a nearby or attached hotel, etc. (all the things that are important to us). So far, we have found a bunch of “this could work”-type venues, but none that look perfect on paper. So I guess the next step is visiting all of these places….I suspect that we will start with visiting each place and talking to them in person. Then, we will narrow it down to the top three, then go back for a closer look (and try the food if they do catering, I guess?) Is that what you did? Is there an easier way (other than conjuring a fairy godmother)? Also, what did you do about places that refused to give you a $$ quote over the phone? There are a few places around here that want to meet with us in person before giving us a quote – does this sound odd to anyone? Thanks for the advice!
Post # 3
We started really early – without anything in mind, my parents drove Fiance and I around to places in the area we thought could be nice or places they knew people had weddings. When we had seriously narrowed it down (by looking online and receiving quotes from people via email), we only seriously visited about 3 places. I think seeing anymore would have been too confusing. So many of the packages are similiar and you get confused as to who is offering what and how much they will give you.
We found 2 dream venues from that search. One was more expensive, and didn’t have our date available. The other was also on the pricier side, had our date, and everything we wanted from it. We were sold 🙂
The funniest part is, my parent’s went there for the first time a few months before we got engaged, and my dad turned to my mom and declared that is where I would be getting married. Do they know me well or what?
Post # 4
It took us a LONG time to find our venue. We decided the type of venue we wanted (garden) and started researching online and visiting the places. Definitely start going, things are way different in person then in pictures. We couldn’t find anything we liked in our price range, so we changed up our search a bit and started looking at B&B’s with courtyards or gardens. We ended up having someone suggest a place that we went to and it was a little too tropical (we live on the beach and I didn’t want a beach wedding), but the owner of that place led us to a historic inn a few blocks from her, and right when we walked up to the place my hubby and I just fell in love and knew we had to be married there. We talked to the owner, who was awesome and made us feel even better about it, and then brought our parents back to see it so we could book.
Post # 5
We wanted a venue that required no outside rentals. They didn’t have to have catering. They did have to have all tables, chairs, linens, etc as part of their package. We were also looking for something downtown bc our wedding is a destination wedding and we wanted everything within walking distance.
We only looked at 4 places. One of those places did not give us a quote over the phone either, we had to meet with them. They’ll do all they can to get you in their doors Don’t be affraid to negotiate. All questions are fair game!
Post # 6
We did mostly online research to start. We made a list of musts (i.e., must be in the city, must allow us to bring in our own alcohol, must be fit for both ceremony and reception, must be handicap accessible, etc.) and then did lots of picture and price comparison. We visited our top 3 choices, but one was the clear winner.
Post # 7
i started researching in advance (like, while Fiance was still ring shopping) because i knew the proposal was coming, and made up a spreadsheet of all the important points (price, inside/outside catering, proximity of hotels, capacity, pros/cons). i sent it to Fiance and my parents right after we got engaged and then started calling around about available dates. we are planning from afar so we only had one weekend to look at each place still on the list, put dates on hold at 3 places, and took a week to choose. we couldn’t go back for a second look and at least where we were looking, most places don’t offer tastings before you book, but we read every online review of our top choices, talked to every friend that had ever been to an event there, and of course i asked around on weddingbee. i probably should have gone to the local board on the knot but that place scares me. the venue we chose didn’t look perfect on paper but we loved it in person. your opinions will definitely change when you visit each place.
we only had one place that wouldn’t give us a price over the phone, which i found very off-putting. turns out that’s because they are pretty expensive. if they’re being dodgy about prices, i’d take that as a warning sign.
where in VA are you? i started the venue search in DC so i looked at a lot of places in arlington/alexandria. there are so many great options there.
Post # 8
we looked at a bunch of places and made a spreadsheet etc. but ended up going with the one we had a gut feeling about. It was in the budget and we somehow knew we loved it the most!
Post # 9
We wanted a non-traditional venue that neither of us had attended a wedding at before! Talk about narrowing it down! We ended up deciding between two renovated Art Deco theaters. Our final decision was based on food and the bar to be honest!!
If you have a particular atmosphere you want to invoke or can rule out certain places like restaurants, hotels or banquet halls that have more than one event on at a time, I’d start there!
Post # 10
Venue hunting is hellish. I was not a fan of it at all. The great thing was that venues definitely fell within or out of our budget. We knew we wanted something rusting and that we’re definitely NOT a ball room couple…which narrowed it down even more.
I was hesitant about my fiance’s first choice – only because our good friends were married there this past July. Then I shook off that ridiculousness and remembered that venues have weddings every weekend and it doesnt matter that they got married there a year ago – our wedding will be ours and totally different from theirs.
So we visited a number of other venues, but finally put down a deposit for one that we didn’t actually “tour” but experienced through a friends wedding. Now I couldn’t be happier with the choice. 🙂
Post # 11
We did a lot of online research/email request for quotes since we’re out of town, and narrowed down our choices to visit once we received information. We ended up looking for government/military facilities, to get more-budget friendly quotes, after receiving one from the Waterside Marriott – for a minimum $10K food and beverage purchase!! Eeek! We visited Cape Henry Beach Club at Ft. Story, Breezy Point Officers Club, and Vista Point Center both at Naval Station Norfolk. We ended up choosing Vista Point because a. pricing for catering/rental of the facility fit our budget b. catering was on-site (no extra coordination required) c. newest facility of the three, and it looks amazing compared to the other two places!
My recommendation is to talk to anyone you know who’s had a wedding in your area, and start making phone calls/email for information. The first thing you need to know is what you can pay for. I.E. we didn’t even go to the Marriott after receiving that information!!! No use wasting time over something you can’t even afford!
Post # 12
Considering it was going to be in downtown Chicago (i.e. super expensive) I wanted the best deal we could find. I also didn’t want a ballroom at a hotel. After looking at bunch of options and getting an idea of prices, we chose Maggiano’s b/c you get so much for the money. Plus, they include almost EVERYTHING and require little extra decorations. I wasn’t going to be in the mood to deal with a million different vendors for every little thing. I realized that I didn’t care about the linens or the napkins or the chairs. They even include the wedding cake and centerpieces (should I want to use them). I just know that for weddings I’ve been to in the past, I never remembered the decor or whether the napkins were personalized but I did remember the food, booze and music so that’s what I’m focusing on. 🙂
Post # 13
Thank you all for the advice! I did not think about the whole “is there going to be another event at my venue” potential issue – something to figure out! Looks like I should do some more phone and email sleuthing before getting in the car!
@MUI831 – That is a good idea! We are having a second reception for the Chicago folk who can’t/won’t come to VA, and Maggiano’s might be a good low-stress option!