January 23, 2013

Wedding - How to pick a Venue

After going through the madness and joy of a wedding I thought I would spend some time in the upcoming posts dedicated to the wedding process.  I'll tell you all of those things I wish someone else had told me before I started planning - first up, the venue.



Top 5 Tips for Choosing a Venue

1) Discuss with your partner what vision you have as a couple for the venue before setting out to look at them.

 This will help you eliminate venues and save you time at the beginning of your planning. 

Questions we talked about were: 
Do we want a modern theme? Classic? Ornate? Clean look?

What kind of space will we need for eating and dancing? 

How do we envision our day timeline and what will we need from a venue to meet those needs?

What is your color scheme how does it mesh with the decor?

Do we want a DJ or a Band - how much space will it require?


We know we wanted somewhere that allowed us to decorate minimally, had it's own personality, and really oozed with history.

We finalized on the Embassy Theater in Fort Wayne, IN.  For Midwest brides it's a great choice - reasonably priced, amazing wedding planners, and really beautiful.

Photo via Jess S.
www.j3designz.com
Photo via Jess S.
www.j3designz.com
2) Calculate a good firm estimate of the number of guests coming to your wedding before striking out to find a venue. 

Many venues have guest limits and the limit may remove having a estimated guest number will let you better visualize how the space will work with your numbers.

Our space was smaller for dinner, but we split up our room rentals and held dinner in the Indiana Ballroom - while Cocktails, Appetizers and Dancing was held in the Lobby, two different spaces in the same building to maximize numbers and not have to worry about break down and set up during the night.

Photo via Jess S.
www.j3designz.com

Because of space we had half of our tables on the second story of the Indiana Hotel Lobby.  Although we were hesitant at first, it actually created - what we felt - was a intimate feel, rather than having our guests spread out across a huge single room.  It allowed our guests on the top level to still see us during speeches (and there were several as part of Australian tradition).

Photo via Jess S.
www.j3designz.com
3)  Set your budget limits before you go look at venues and ask for and calculate "add on" costs not included in the base rental fee.

- This will help you be realistic on what you can and can't afford that will accompany your vision.

Ask the person you are meeting with either for an estimate or a list of what is included and what is not.  Each venue calculates prices differently, some putting everything into one cost others having a ton of add on's.  

The add on's we saw while looking ran the gambit from:

 Extra table (both for eating and for placing cakes, gifts, guest books on) and chair rentals, breakdown/set up for event changes during the night, dance floor, extra hour fees, cleaning, security, catering, and sound equipment fees.  

Get a spreadsheet ready to go so that you can plug in the numbers after seeing each venue. 

Remember the more bare the space (ie) if it is a basic hall, or a barn, or a blank room) the more you can personalize but likely the more it will cost you.


 For us, it made the planning so much easier to not worry about decking the halls in every corner.  Plus we saved by just letting the venue shine on its own and time which was important as we were planning from out of state.  

Photo via Jess S.
www.j3designz.com

Photo via Jess S.
www.j3designz.com

4) Consider accommodation and location for each venue.

How far is your venue from the church, "get ready" area, where you will be staying, 
where your guests will be staying?

All of these things will really matter on the big day, I promise you want to make sure your venue is easily accessible or if your venue is not easily accessible the distance is something you can live with both for prep the day before and the day of time line.

5) Bring someone with you - Mom, MOH, Partner - to give you feedback on the space, and compare notes afterwards

Another set of eyes will help you see any potential downfalls.  
I brought my mom with me for each of the venues on the first walk through before we narrowed the venues down to two.  She was great for pointing out logistical things that I often overlooked:
 Handicapped access for my grandma, parking, flow of the day issues, 
space issues, serving food issues, seating set up etc.  

Plus she was good at pointing out other visual issues that I had overlooked!  

I found that often when we were talking about details I would get overwhelmed or forget things but having another set of ears, eyes, and another brain ensured I got everything that we discussed down and reviewed.



Photo via Jess S.
www.j3designz.com
Photo via Jess S.
www.j3designz.com

Answering these questions will help your planning go much smoother and lead to you being a less stressed bride on the big day!

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