Venue Guide: Dos and Don'ts of Selecting the Perfect Location

So you just got engaged, by now you’re probably realizing you can’t do much without a date and a place. Before you can pick out a photographer, DJ, dress, or dessert, you have to decide when and where you will be celebrating your special day.

There are many search directories available online whether just a quick Google search or using a wedding-specific site like the Knot or WeddingWire. Don’t forget about another great resource available to you—word of mouth. Ask friends and family about weddings they have attended, you just might find a hidden gem.

Now that you’ve found a place that you are interested in, it’s time for…

The Inquiry:

In the initial email you send to a venue it is helpful to provide as much detail as possible. Before you set up a tour you should make sure your venue fits any specific needs you have. For example, if you require a specific date, need onsite accommodations, or have a very limited budget you’ll want to express this to the venue in advance to make sure it’s a good fit.

Is your heart set on one date? Do you already have a budget? Are you only open to Saturdays or are you open to Fridays or Sundays? Be sure to include that in your first email. For example, instead of submitting an email saying “looking for dates and pricing,” you’ll get a better response if you say, “I’m interested in Saturday availability in the months of June, July, and August.”

Setting Up A Tour:

Once you’ve narrowed down a short-list of contenders it’s time to see them in person! I meet with some couples who only see one venue before booking and others that see as many as twenty. In my experience it’s best keep the number of site visits to only the top contenders—keep it under five if possible.

Always set up an appointment to see a property. Even if you’re in the area and want to drop by you always run the risk of interfering with a wedding or ceremony rehearsal if you stop in unannounced. Show other couples the same respect you’d want on your wedding day.

Most couples like to see their chosen venues about a year in advance so they can see what the space and grounds will look like during their desired timeframe. However, it’s important to keep in mind that most venues book out popular dates over a year in advance so while it may be tempting to wait until nicer weather if you delay too long all your dates may be gone


Did you know

40% of all engagements happen November-February. Wedding Pros call this timeframe Engagement Season

What to Bring to your Tour:

It’s always a good idea to bring a notebook and pen—a venue walkthrough is a lot of information at once and I always encourage people to take notes and lots of pictures.  

If you’ve been sent a venue’s Wedding Packages it’s a good idea to print it out in advance to have a hard copy on hand. You’ll likely get a hard copy of the packages during the appointment, but it doesn’t hurt to come prepared!

During tours couples always end up saying, “what questions should we be asking?” When you’re visiting a venue for the first time it can sometimes be an emotional, overwhelming experience and can sometimes forget questions you meant to ask. There are many online question lists that you can use as a guide. I like Offbeat Bride’s  and WeddingWire’s Don’t feel like a bridezilla for using one of these forms, any wedding pro should be able to answer most of these industry related questions with ease. However, I find that during a site visit of a venue most of your questions get answered naturally.

Bring anyone who will be valuable in making your decision. Parents, bridesmaids, grandparents, anyone whose opinion is going to be a deciding factor should come with you to see the property.


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And Finally…

Have fun! You’re visiting venues to see if they will be a good fit for your wedding day. It’s an opportunity to meet the staff and get a feel of the property. Don’t be afraid to be yourselves and express what you’re looking for.

Good luck out there! I hope all of you find the venue of your dreams!