Post # 1
Hi guys! My SO and I are heading towards engagement; we know we want to be married within two years. I also work at a bridal store, so it might be an understatement to say this is on my mind a lot. We have started to talk about wedding planning already, and have agreed that because of the area we live in (it is a popular high-end wedding destination) and our budget (not high-end!), we should start thinking about a venue now. We won’t book anything until after the engagement, but things here often book up two years in advance, and finding something affordable and pretty is kind of like finding a needle in a haystack. I have had to familiarize myself with venues for work, and became a bit panicked when I realized how far in advance you have to book things if you want first pick and how pricey things around here are; when I relayed this information to my SO, he said he thought it would be “responsible” of us to start thinking about this now so we will basically be ready to book as soon as we become officially engaged, and he has encouraged me to do some research. I know saying I’m not crazy doesn’t make me sound less crazy, but believe me when I tell you that I am doing this alongside my SO; I’m not pushing him into planning when he’s not ready etc… And we absolutely will not book until after we are engaged.
That being said, I don’t even know where to begin looking! I get overwhelmed when I think of all of the logistics of renting any space, and all of the things that can be included or that you have to bring in. We’ve also discussed the option of having a destination wedding since we live in such an expensive area to have a wedding, and all of my family will have to travel to the opposite coast to see us be married anyway.
If anyone has any tips for things to look for when researching venues, I’d be eternally grateful if you’d pass them along! I’m especially curious about “hidden costs” and fees (rentals, bringing in porta-potties, bussing people from parking to a site… These are some of the delightful extras a few local venues require) that you ladies weren’t expecting when you embarked on your search. And if anyone has any thoughts on things to take into consideration when planning a destination wedding, I’d love to get some input on that as well. Thanks!
Post # 3
I started my venue search with a wedding magazine for my state which listed hundreds of venues and their pricing. It was a boring magazine (almost entirely ads which didn’t have pretty pictures) but it let me sort through venues I knew were nearby (sorted by county) and at a glance see their pricing, room capacity, number of weddings held at a time, server to guest ratio, and a few other things. I would browse your local bookstore (go to a big one) and see if they have any wedding magazines with that type of information in them. I took their list of about 300 and narrowed it down to about 80 based on price alone. I was able to then narrow it down based on the capacity, distance from the church ect. Once I had that list I narrowed it down even further by taking a look at their websites (some places were ugly and easy to eliminate, others served food I don’t like). You can also check out reviews on places like weddingwire.com. When I had it narrowed it down a lot I handed the list to Fiance who eliminated a bunch more (because he thought they were ugly, they were in parts of town he didn’t like, he didn’t like certain hotel brands ect. He’s super picky lol). Then we visited our top choices and the visits solidified our decision.
Before you look for a venue I would consider the following things:
- How big is your guest list? (Ideally make a theoretical list and then build in some space for people you’re forgetting, plus ones, kids, dates, ect.)
- Indoor or outdoor ceremony?
- How formal is your wedding?
- Ceremony and reception at same place?
- Do you want an all inclusive place? (This can mean they include catering, or they include things like the DJ, Photographer ect.)
- Will you want a venue that allows outside catering (sometimes cheaper, not always)
- Will you want a venue that allows outside alcohol
- Do you have any must-haves that venues might not allow? (candles ect.)
- Do you/your guests have special needs that will limit choices? ([One venue we visited had upstairs rooms and no elevator], Do you need handicap accesible rooms/bathrooms, are the grounds good for those in wheelchairs, is there an area where guests can smoke, is there parking (free/valet?), do you want your pets there)
My biggest piece of advice is to create a master list of all of the venues that exist in your area and write down why each one is eliminated so you can revisit venues if your wedding changes (guest list increases/decreases ect.).
Also create a list of “must-haves” and wants. Preferably rank them. It makes evaluating lots of venues easier.
Consider that having your wedding in certain months, on certain days of the week, and at certain times of day can dramatically affect the cost of a venue and your bargaining power. Getting married on a Sunday in January in the morning costs way less than on a Saturday in June in the evening.
Post # 4
@MadameX: It’s never too early to start searching! I asked for pricing from so many venues before I was even engaged. I did this by email though. It’s never too early to start planning, especially if you’re budget conscious!!!
I didn’t do any tours or anything but one weeknight I did stop by my dream venue spot and looked in the windows (lol..)
Post # 5
This is a good idea. If you guys have time you should go to a few open houses.
A tip I have look for community buildings, old historic buildings, nonprofit places and out of the norm places. They tend to be a little bit cheaper.
The best idea is go to some of the open houses they have the weekends. Try to think about what kind of wedding you have, and most importantly the guestlist because that going to be the main thing to effect your budget. We had one type of wedding in mind more semi formal, but found out venue fell in love and now we are having a formal wedding. So your ideas and feelings might take more shape by seeing places in person.
Finally Location Location Location is so important. Fi whole family is flying in, and a lot of my friends and extended family members or out of town as well. Which means the majority of our guestlist is out of town. So we were stuck between a location in the burbs and the city. We went with city venue becuase people wouldn’t need to rent cars or drive a couple hours from their airport. So finding a certain area or location to have your wedding will narrow down your choices a lot.
Post # 6
Before you look at venues you need an idea of when you would want to get married. Off season is cheaper. you also need an approximate head count. Don’t fall in love with a venue better suited for less than 100 guests if you have large families and will have 250 guests.
Post # 7
@asscherlover: Keeping a record of why you eliminated a place is SO CLEVER. The OCD planner in me is tingling right now at the thought. Thank you for the insight!
@S2013: Haha I could totally see myself snooping in windows!
@michiru4ever: That’s a really good point! I’m assuming we’ll do something smallish, but that could change if we did decide to do something out of state from where we live.
Anyone have any ideas/ tips for looking into logistical things, especially in regards to destination weddings? (Transportation, hotels for out of town guests, etc…)?
Post # 8
@MadameX: Our wedding is a destination wedding in many ways because its in our hometown, many states away from where I live now. I rely a fair amount on our parents, who live nearby. If you choose somewhere where a friend/relative who loves wedding planning is located you can ask them to take pictures of things you forgot ect. which is nice. I do most things by email so I have quotes in writing, and if vendors insist on giving quotes/confirming details over the phone I ask them to send me a followup email summarizing what we discussed so that I can show it to my Fiance.
For hotels we just googled hotels near our reception location. When we called for quotes we asked if they provided shuttles (and whether they were free) to and from the airport, to and from our ceremony location and to an from our reception location. Many only provided the first and third. Some didn’t provide any but had reccomendations. I also made sure to ask how many adults were allowed to sleep in one room. We have a lot of college friends we are telling not to stay in our blocked hotel because there is a second hotel which is slightly more expensive and slightly further away but allows 4 adults per room instead of 2. So overall its cheaper per person. We only blocked one hotel because our families are all going to want to be in the same one. When you look at hotels also see if they hold you responsible for rooms which are not booked. Some hotels will, others won’t.
Post # 9
I believe there’s nothing wrong with gathering information when wedding planning. The more info you have makes it easier to narrow down the one you eventually book. For us it was finding a venue that allows you to bring in your own caterer and alcohol. The cost of feeding and liquoring up your guests is going to be at least 50% your budget. We found a beautiful venue in the most unlikely place… a clubhouse!! The rental fee was under $1000 for 12 hours. We rented tables/chairs/linens/china/a bar, brought our own alcohol and had hawaiian BBQ catered. We were very happy with our choice and I encourage you to check out places that are “un-wedding” type venues. Here’s a pic of our venue.
Post # 10
I started my seach on the internet, looked in the area we live in now, and the area where we grew up and all of our family lives. Found several venue options all with all inclusive pricing, made appointments for three in one day where we grew up, took a camera and notepad and pen. We took pics, wrote down likes and dislikes of each venue. We did not want to deal with places that were not all inclusive, to much planning when you have to rent the venue, tables, lines, charis, find catering, cake, alcohol, etc. For all that work we would have gotten married on his parents property in their backyard which is about 1 acre. This way the venue is free!
Found several places we liked in the area we live in now, booked several venues in one day, and did the same thing took a camera, note pad and pen.
We ended up booking the very first venue we saw back where we grew up. No one could match the beauty of the venue and the cost, we got a huge discount by getting married in the winter. Good luck with your search.
Post # 11
@Ill Be Mrs B: That’s really pretty! We want something a bit non-traditional, too. My dream is actually to get married in my mom’s hometown (she is no longer living) at an art museum there, but I think that may be out of our price range and just a logistical nightmare as well, aside from the fact that it’s diagonally across the country! But we know this isn’t going to be a church ceremony, hall reception sort of wedding.
Post # 12
@MadameX: If getting married in an art museum in your mothers home town is important to you then you should at least check it out. You might be surprised and get a good deal. Heck, it never hurts to inquire.
We found our venue while looking at a clubhouse in a phase 1 housing community my neice lives in. Unfortunately it was to small, only held 110 guests, plus my husband didn’t care for it and said it was to “old”. The venue coordinator told us of another clubhouse in a newer (phase 3) developement that would be better suited for our needs we took a look. It was beautiful and took my breath away. My husbands boss lives in the neighborhood and when asked he said he’d reserve it for us. We had so many compliments on our venue and wouldn’t have wanted to get married anywhere else.
Sometimes you need to think outside of the box. Glad we did!!!
Post # 13
@Ill Be Mrs B: You are so right, I should look into it some more and make sure I leave all my options open since I’m just gather information right now anyway! I guess I have been scared that I’ll know for sure it’s not feasible if I look into it too much, so I’ve been putting off researching some of the details about it. I think my SO is actually interested in getting married at Disneyland! We live on the west coast so it’s not too far away, it’s where we took our first trip together when we started dating, and he kind of fell in love with it because I love it so much. I used to go there a lot with my family growing up, too; it was a special place to my mom and I. Right now I am just going in so many different directions and need to kind of figure out how to pull this in… Which is why we are starting so far in advance!
@mishagirls79: That is a great point about getting married in an off-season… I have always thought a winter wedding would be beautiful, and fall is actually my favorite season, so doing something that isn’t in the spring or summer is really feasible for us.
@asscherlover: I would never have thought of insisting on things in writing… I do this at work, why wouldn’t I think of doing it now!?
Post # 14
@MadameX: Disneyland would be another great option as well. Since it’s a memorable place for you and your Fiance it has a special place in your hearts. I do believe they have several wedding packages to chose from and hopefully you find one you love within your budget. Heck, if I was invited to a Disneyland wedding I’d probably send my RSVP by overnight FEDex!!!
I’m a huge planner/researcher and look at options for everything. I’d rather “over think” something than make a rushed decision that I’ll regret. Obviously there’s a few exceptions but mostly I go with my gut.