Booking the right venue is one of the most important decisions you can make in the entire planning process. This is often the first thing you book and what you build your vision upon. As a planner I have worked at over 40 + venues all over the place and have seen the good, the bad, and the ugly. So today I wanted to share my top five tips when looking to book the venue of your dreams!
1. Back up plan, back up plan, back up plan
If I could pick the most important thing to look at when looking at your venue this would be extremely high on the list. I have had so many couples fall in love with a venue and it's outdoor space and then
absolutely hate the back up plan if there was bad weather. Unfortunately if you have lived in Georgia for long you know how crazy unpredictable the weather can. be. It can be scorching hot one weekend in October and then we get a freak cold front the next. I always make sure we have a solid back up plan for outdoor ceremonies or receptions that will still fit our theme and vision. Of course as a wedding planner I am always thinking two steps ahead for these kinds of things, but if you don't have a planner booked when looking at a venue here are a few questions to ask yourself:
Do I like the look of the back up option and will I love looking back on my pictures?
How many guests can the back up plan hold?
Will I need to flip the room and if so will I need to pay extra fess for my florist to stay or my planner to hire extra hands if it's complicated decor? Does the venue handle flipping the chairs and tables?
Is my design plan extremely complex and hard to replicate in a different space?
Do I need to rent a tent if the venue doesn't have a feasible back up location? Do I also need to add flaps to the tent or heaters/ fans? What extra costs will this add to my budget?
2. What are my venue's hours?
Now this may seem like an obvious thing to look at but it can often be overlooked if you have never had experience planning an event like this. Sometimes I have brides look at a gorgeous Pinterest picture of a reception with elaborate floral installations on the ceiling and want to replicate that look without realizing they only have their venue starting at noon and that would take a full day of set up prior to the event day. So before booking your venue make sure to have your design in mind for how much set up time you will need. It is also great to ask what time rental company's can drop off and pick up!
3. Does my venue have a required or preferred vendor list?
Now this one can vary from venue to venue and sometimes this matters more to some couples then others. First lets talk about the difference between a preferred or a required vendor list. Some venues have required vendors that you absolutely have to use, usually it is the caterers. A lot of times this will be someone in house. This is not necessarily a bad thing but if you have your heart set on a certain caterer and your venue won't allow it that could be a big deciding factor. A preferred vendor list is a list of vendors the venue has worked with before and love. I love preferred lists and often encourage my couples to use them. These are usually vendors who are legit, insured, and are familiar with the venue!
These are my top 3 tips for booking a venue but I also have a few questions I always ask when touring and I wanted to share a few more with you as a bonus:
How many people does the venue hold COMFORTABLY ( not the fire marshal max) and how many bathroom are there?
Is open flame or sparklers allowed?
Does the venue set up/tear down tables and chairs and clean at the end of the night? Is there an additional fee for this?
Is there a kitchen on site?
Is there someone on site from the venue the whole time of the wedding ? ( is someone there if a toilet overflows, if heating or air needs to be changes , if a problems arises with the facilities etc.)