Finding the perfect venue isn’t easy. There are so many options to choose from, whether you’re looking for a stunning barn, an elegant ballroom, a villa in Tuscany, a Boho Chic area in the desert, or a quiet stretch of beach. The options are endless.
Choose a venue that fits in with your theme and aligns with your vision to enable your wedding to feel more connected to the space.
Here are 12 essential tips for finding the perfect venue. If you find yourself overwhelmed with finding a venue you can always reach out to a wedding planner for venue research. Plus, wedding planners will have information that is more specific than the national averages often found online. Not to mention have advice on a venue that would better suite your checklist (guest count, budget, location, etc.).
Need to Know the Bottom Line
When doing a walk - through of a potential venue it is important to fully understand the costs. For instance, it is important to ask if there are any food and beverage minimums. Are there any service charges or taxes? How will those service charges and taxes effect the costs. I always suggest to my clients that they request a sample estimate that includes these potential costs. This way you can see if there were any miscellaneous charges like bartender fees, valet or parking fees, and what the costs could be for overtime.
Discounts for Different Days of the Week
During a tour of the venue it is always nice to ask if there are any price differences. Some venues will offer discounts for weddings or events that on different days of the week. Then, make sure those prices are all-inclusive. You don’t want to book a venue and then be hit with unexpected costs that could potentially take you over budget. Remember, arm yourself with proper budget information to make informed decisions that will fit your unique event so you’re not crying later since you overspent in any one area.
Set up and Strike Time
It is very important to find out the contracted amount of time from ceremony to the end of the reception. How much time is included for set up? How much time is included for strike / clean up? This will gage the amount of time you will have for your ceremony and your reception. It is helpful to also find out if the venue only does one wedding or multiple weddings at the venue. This will be helpful for your coordinator and vendors so they can plan out the day properly. At the Padua Hills Theater hosting only one wedding a day is important to their clients so they can experience a certain level of privacy on property and know their clients are top priority.
Outside Vendors or Preferred Vendors Only
Some venues require the use of their preferred vendors and will allow outside vendors to be used for a cost. It is important to find out if there are any outside vendors allowed before you bring in your Dad’s Brewing Co. as a beer option. Plus, some cultures or religions require a specific menu. Definitely check with the venue to see if they have customized menu options that are important to you and your family. Find out if they offer menu tastings and for how many guests?
Equipment / Décor
Venues usually offer some equipment and décor. Of course, many venues have a limited selection so it is best to see samples of the equipment and décor. Find out what they actually offer (i.e. chairs, tables, linens, glassware, flatware, centerpieces, etc.). If they are unable to do a mock up of the equipment or décor ask if they have pictures. It wouldn’t hurt to look at pictures of events that used their equipment or décor too. This way you have a better idea of what it will look like at the event.
Weather Back Up Plan
It’s June in California and it was a year that didn’t get much rain. But for some reason it chose your wedding day out all days to rain. Granted in California it doesn’t rain often but it is important whether you are in California or any state, to find out if the venue has a weather back up plan. For some venues, they may offer an inside ballroom and outdoor space. So, if it does decide to rain, you have the option to move your wedding indoors.
Understand the Food & Beverage Costs
There are different options for Food & Beverage. From sit down to buffet and each option will have a different cost. Perhaps you want a Kosher wedding or something specific at your reception. If that is important to you and your families, be sure your venue can accommodate your requests.
Venue Walk-Through Experience
When we do a walk through with our clients at potential venues, it is important for our clients to feel inspired, refreshed and in LOVE with the location. The potential venue is where you and your fiancé have to imagine saying your vows and celebrate with family and friends. We can’t stress it enough, it is important to fully understand everything a venue has to offer for you and your guests. So, prior to your venue walk through, think about what is important to you and your fiancé. Is it special cuisine? Does the venue offer a variety of options or customization for food? Is it scenery? Are there indoor and outdoor options? At Coasterra, they have an outdoor space that has a stunning view of the Bay and an indoor ballroom with a Bay view as well.
Does the Venue have Guest Rooms?
If you chose a hotel or venue that offers guest rooms find out if there is a discount for a room block? Is there a minimum of nights and percentage of guests required to stay at your hotel? Sometimes hotels will also have a minimum food and beverage costs. If you don’t have to have a specific date, then it is always helpful to find out if they have a low season and can offer a discount.
If you chose a date on Saturday, sometimes venues will not allow a rehearsal the night prior since they may have booked events. Find out if the venue will allow a rehearsal the evening prior or if they will allow you to come in the evening earlier in the week. It is important to know that you can do a rehearsal of your ceremony on the day or days leading up to the special day with your planner, officiant, and wedding party. This always ensures a smooth wedding day so be sure to ask your venue for options during your tour.
I know this seems odd to about Sunset at your venue tour. But some ceremony’s take place outdoors and the venue would have the best idea when the magic hour takes place. This question will help establish when the sun sets, which will then help build a timeline for the wedding and make sure the ceremony is in the daylight. Don’t forget to ask where the sun will be setting during the month that you are planning on getting married. This will ensure that you have the ceremony with the perfect backdrop.
Pre and Post Parties
At the Colony Palms Hotel in Palm Springs, you can always set up pre and post parties. This location is perfect to host the rehearsal dinner the evening prior and do a post brunch on Sunday. If guests are coming out of town and are not familiar with the area or if you have a destination event it is great to plan a welcome reception. Creating these events ahead of time allows for a relaxing wedding weekend flow for everyone.