Finding the perfect wedding venue is typically one of the first steps to planning a wedding. The venue not only sets the tone for the event, but also gives you an idea of other wedding planning decisions, including guest count, décor, floral, and even the formality.
In this blog, we’re sharing everything you need to know in order to select the right venue, along with what to expect from a wedding venue tour.
Similar to booking all other wedding vendors, finding the best wedding venue will begin with a bit of research.
Start your research with your favorite search engine, wedding planning website, or social media platforms like Pinterest or Instagram. Wedding planning websites showcase highly sought-after venues in your area, along with details about how to request additional information from their team.
Lexi Hernandez, Senior Sales Manager with The Treasury Venue Collection, advises that you should identify your wedding style before reaching out to wedding venues. “Do the venues that you are considering truly fit your wedding vision? Stay true to your style and focus on only the venues that are in line with your vision.” She adds that social media is a great place to look to when researching venues. “Most venues post pictures of a wide variety of different wedding styles in their spaces. If you don’t see anything on social media that makes you say, ‘Wow! I want our wedding to look like that!’ that venue may not be the right fit for you.”
“If service quality is important to you, make sure to look at wedding venue reviews from past couples. If you can’t find any reviews, or if a venue has a lot of negative reviews, that might be a red flag,” says Olivia Marceau, Director of Sales at The Treasury Venue Collection.
Although there may be endless venues in your area, they may not always be the right fit and style for you. If you are having trouble finding the best wedding venue in your area, consider hosting a wedding in a neighboring city or even state. Destination weddings are trending because couples enjoy hosting weddings that allow them to get away from it all and host a vacation celebration with their nearest and dearest.
As you begin doing your research, be sure to create a list of venues you are most interested in. Then, start thinking about your wedding date and when you’d like to start booking tours!
After you have completed your research and curated a list of venues you are most interested in, it’s time to start inquiring with venues and booking tours! The easiest way to start a conversation with a venue is by submitting your information through the venue’s contact form or submission page on their website, or by simply giving them a call.
Once you connect with a point of contact at the venue, you have the opportunity to start asking questions to determine if the venue is the right fit before you come in to tour. This is the time to narrow down your venue list and answer the question, “Can this venue accommodate all of my ‘must-haves’?” Your must-haves could be things like your guest count, a specific vendor you want to work with, fitting within a specific budget, and more.
If a venue checks all of the boxes for your “must-haves,” we recommend that you try to visit the venue in person. A venue tour can help you evaluate many of the more abstract elements of each venue that you can’t see online.
Olivia Marceau, The Treasury Venue Collection’s Director of Sales, says couples should book about three to five venue tours. “We find that couples have the most successful venue search when they tour three to five venues! Doing research ahead of time and narrowing it down to your favorites can help make the most of your tours to make sure they are the perfect fit.”
Another way to tour venues is by doing a virtual tour! Virtual tours are great for couples planning a destination wedding who may not have the time to travel to visit a venue in person. “We connect with our couples via Zoom to do a guided virtual tour of the venue! We will cover all of the topics we normally do on an in-person tour: venue spaces & amenities, vendors, bar, and date availability,” says Marceau.
It’s time to start touring venues! Venue tours are about an hour long, so it’s important to use that time wisely! It’s not uncommon for couples to be excited, caught up in the moment, and distracted by the ambiance of the venue, and forget to ask questions. When you begin touring venues, be sure to ask the following questions in order to find the perfect wedding venue for you.
If you are considering a popular venue, you might be surprised to learn how quickly dates book up. Olivia Marceau shared that “couples are excited to plan weddings again, now that COVID-19 is less of a threat. Couples are feeling a sense of urgency, and they are often booking their venues sight unseen or before they are even engaged. People who had toured venues in pre-pandemic times that didn’t lock in a date are now resuming the wedding planning process and booking their venue.”
With many Saturdays booked out 14-18 months in advance, couples should plan on being flexible. “So many couples reach out to us with a very specific date in mind for their wedding, which can significantly limit their options. Couples who are flexible on the day of the week for their wedding will not only find more availability, but they may also end up paying a lower rate for their dream wedding venue,” added Marceau.
Some wedding venues will book multiple events on the same day, which Marceau says could be an issue for some couples. “If it’s important for your day to feel intimate—like it’s truly ‘your day’—you may not want to book a wedding venue that does multiple weddings per day in the same space.”
Multiple events on the same day could also impact how long you have at the venue. Always ask the timeframe for you and your vendors to have access to the venue.
Not all venues offer the same services. Understanding what is included with each package is important. Some packages might offer a few essential services, while others might include everything (including vendors). You can’t compare pricing without considering what you are getting with each package.
Many venues have relationships with wedding vendors in their area, and some have even entered into partnerships with them. It’s possible that your venue might require you to choose from a list of preferred vendors, or they may include some vendors in their package options. If you already have specific vendors in mind that you would like to work with, you’ll want to ask this question early on.
Other questions you should ask include:
• How far in advance are you booking?
• What is the venue rental fee and what is included in that price?
• How many guests can you accommodate?
• What are the next steps for touring and reserving a date?
When it’s time to start wedding planning, most couples begin by selecting their venue because it sets the tone for the overall event. With so many different wedding planning websites and social media outlets, it can be confusing to know exactly where to start researching. We hope this guide will be a helpful resource as you start gathering information and reaching out to venues. Remember that wedding planning is all about finding the perfect vendors that fit not only your event style, but also your personality.
We hope that you’ll consider the Lightner Museum during your wedding venue search! Contact our team online or give us a call at (904) 217-0077.
If you’re looking for a detailed wedding planning to-do list, make sure to check out our wedding planning timeline and checklist.
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