The moment you've been waiting for is finally here! He/she has popped the question and you said yes! But before you begin your magical life together, you get the pleasure of heading down that amazing road of wedding planning. To some it's fun and exciting. Those Pinterest boards, wedding magazines, and your childhood scrapbook have been all lined up and ready to go before you even met your S.O.! To others, you might find yourself struggling in knowing which direction to go or how to make all those decisions.
Either way, I'm here to help guide you along the way in making that journey as stress-free and as smooth sailing as possible. Because unless you've been married before or are a wedding planner yourself, more than likely you're a rookie at this whole wedding planning thing.
My first wedding planning topic of choice is first for a reason. That's because I believe it should be on the top of everyone's priority list....
Picking Your Venue
The perfect venue means something different to every single person. So whatever that means to you, as a general rule of thumb, here are 8 topics that I feel are important things to consider and keep in mind.
Before you even begin the hunt, you need to sit down with those involved in paying for your wedding and discuss what your spending allowance is going to be. One of the biggest expenses will be your venue, so definitely account for that plus all of the other expenses that go into weddings. The dress, catering, flowers, photography, deejay, wedding planner, bridal party gifts, etc. are all things to consider when discussing your budget. Everyone's priorities on where their money is going to be spent is going to be different. Know before you go visit a venue what your spending range is!
Another decision that needs to be made before your search for venues is you need to decide what your guest list is going to look like. Is this going to be a small intimate wedding with a few close friends and family? Or is this going to be a large scale wedding because your family is huge, you've got loads of friends, your church and/or community means the world to you and you don't know how you could ever leave a single person out? You don't want to book a massive building if all you're looking for is an intimate space. And vice versa, you don't want to book a small cozy venue, if you're inviting everyone and their dog.
My advise on this one? Be flexible. Unless you come from a family that has a long lasting tradition of getting married on May 15th and May 15th only and your ancestors would come back from their graves to haunt you if you don't get married on that day, you should leave some wiggle room concerning the actual date. A general season or month is much better than deciding on a specific day. It lends to more options, which in turn allows room to create your dream wedding. Ask yourself, which would I prefer, my dream date on the calendar or my dream location?
For the sake of this article, I'm going to assume that you are not having a destination wedding and you are staying relatively close to home. With that being said, you still need to decide the distance that you are willing to have you and your guests travel. Many variables play a role with this decision, so think this one through from all angles. Often times you and your fiancé aren't from the same area. Are you going to find a central location, one that's closer to you, or one that's closer to your fiancé? Is your guest list small and traveling an hour away isn't a big deal so you can widen your search area? Or are you having the masses attend and you need to find a more generalized location? So many variables and so many decisions! I know, I know, but it's important to think through.
I'm just going to throw a few words out there and I want you to give me a loud and jubilant "Yes!" if that word speaks to you...
Romantic, outdoor, indoor, boho, casual, rustic, modern, fun, mood lighting, vintage, laid back, dreamy, simple, sweet, nature, sophisticated, fairy tale, spacious, cozy, retro, industrial, country, airy, relaxing, beach, mountainous, classic, glamorous, minimalist, shabby chic, whimsical...
Take note of those that stood out. Which words are non-negotiable and which words are you willing to go without or be flexible on? Now take those words and use them as you are searching for your perfect venue.
When it comes to picking out a venue, first do some research online to save you both time and money. At this point you should have already discussed the guest count, the budget, and the setting, i.e. indoor vs outdoor, or rustic vs modern. Weed out venues that don't fit into those standards. Why would you want to even go tour your "dream" venue in all it's glamor, if you have to have Kardashian type money to pay for it but you haven't quite got that clothing line up and running off the ground like you'd hoped it would be at this point and the cash flow just isn't in the billions yet? (I don't know, maybe that's you?)
As you're doing your research, keep notes. A spreadsheet note-taking system is ideal. There you can map out and keep track of all of your wants and needs and then plug in each venue and where they stand on the matter.
Once you've found those that check off a lot of the boxes , then it's time to start booking tours and check out these places in person.
When doing tours always go prepared! Even though this is the time that you're visually checking out the venue to see if you connect with both the building and those who you will be working with, you also need to go in with a business mind. Go with your list of questions. Go with your list of things that mean a lot to you (ahem, all those things we discussed up above). Ask what their policies are on certain manners, such as: alcohol policies, catering policies, noise ordinances, payment deadlines, gratuities or service charges, parking, if your bff dog Winston is allowed or now, and oh so much more! The last thing you want to do is fall in love with a place, book it, and then get blindsided by the policies that you failed to read or understand. Go in with a plan!
Reserve the Venue
Believe me when I say, you don't want to snooze and lose when it comes to picking out your venue. On a national average, couples are engaged one to one and a half years before their actual wedding day. Meaning, venues are getting booked over a year in advance!