By Jody DeSimone
Becoming newly engaged is one of the most exciting chapters in a person’s life! However, there are dozens of tasks to complete and details to arrange before experiencing the magical moment of saying “I do.” One of the most important decisions is choosing where it all will take place (a.k.a. the venue). There are a few questions that should always be asked before you start scheduling tours at wedding venues.
First and foremost, you’ll want to jot down a list of preliminary questions to ask a venue's staff member (either by phone or email) when you're first inquiring. Having a list will help you remember all the important information to get, and this list will help you compare like with like during each venue tour. It'll also help you narrow down your shortlist of venue options before you start touring.
To help, I asked the Wedgewood Weddings team what questions they hear most regularly and what they think couples should be asking. And I've done all the work for you: I've boiled down all their advice into a simple handout that you can take with you on every venue tour!
Answers To Gather Before Or During Your Venue Tour:
Do They Offer Weddings During the Time of Year You Want to Get Married?We strongly advise choosing the right venue before deciding the single day your wedding will take place. For example, some venues are seasonal and only offer events during certain times of year or days of the week. Saturdays are classic, but a Thursday or Friday wedding can set you up for a whole weekend event. Monday weddings are also increasingly popular. Nowadays, there are no right or wrong days or times to get married.
Tip: Decide on a month or season for your wedding, tell the venue team, and ask them how they'll make your date special.
Can the Venue Host Your Wedding Ceremony and the Reception?Combining both parts of your wedding day into one location is convenient for you and all your guests. So, if a religious service isn’t on your agenda, try to find a venue that’ll accommodate the entire affair.
Tip: Guests prefer for the travel time between venues to be under 20 minutes - and they'll especially love it if parking is convenient at both locations!
How Much Money Does an Average Reception at Your Venue Cost?Some locations offer different tiers and packages for you to choose from. Talk to your families and get an idea of a ballpark budget you're working with - this will be a huge factor in choosing the right venue!
Tip: Venues want to help you, so tell the team your ballpark budget loud and proud.
How Many Guests Can the Venue Accommodate?If the answer is less than your anticipated guest count, ask them before touring if they've hosted a wedding as large as yours and how they made it work. Alternately, if you’re having an intimate guest count, ask how the space so that it's not empty-feeling. An experienced team will be able to arrange a larger room to feel cozy for a smaller guest count.
Tip: About 30% of your invited guest list will not make it to your wedding. Keep this in mind if you think you might be over capacity.
What Are Your Dining/Food Options?Does the venue have in-house catering, or do you have to find your own caterer? The food is a big part of the wedding, so it's important to know if that's already taken care of by the venue or if you'll have to spend time finding the right caterer. If it's not included at the venue, ask about their kitchen amenities and where a caterer could set up. An all-inclusive venue is much more convenient and usually makes an already amazing day even better. Also, ask if there's a difference in price between a buffet or a full-service, plated meal.
Tip: Ask upfront about dietary concerns or allergies. For everyone's sake, it's best that the catering staff is aware of any allergies or dietary restrictions ahead of time.
Can You See the Whole Event Space on Your Venue Tour?Most venues will not allow you to view the reception or ceremony space while a wedding is taking place - which is obviously a good thing! You wouldn't want someone viewing the venue during your event either.
Tip: Wear comfortable shoes as some venues are sizable.
Once Your Wedding Venue Checklist is Complete:
Review your wedding venue shortlist again and talk one-one-one with your fiance to make sure you're both on the same page.
Decide what's most important to you: location, price, capacity, aesthetics, etc. It's reasonable to factor in all of these wedding venue criteria and more. The one area where most people have leeway is date - choosing a venue based solely on availability has become unnecessary as guests have come to expect 'Save the Dates' for any day of the week.
You also have more freedom with time of day than ever before: a brunch wedding has been a trend in recent years - but so have nighttime ceremonies! I've seen gorgeous 4pm ceremonies in snowy Colorado and an adults-only 8pm ceremony in Arizona to beat the heat.
Once you feel happy with your choice, call the venue directly and let them know. They'll run through the contract with you and start making your wedding dreams come true!
For additional tips on planning a remarkable wedding, or to set up a tour of your own, call us today at 855-284-7076. And, remember to use our tour tips handout!