wedding 101 | tips for finding your wedding venue

Finding your wedding venue—it’s kind of a big deal.  It’s definitely the biggest piece of the puzzle and once you have that wrapped up, you’ll feel a million times better, trust me!  It’s important to keep a few things in mind when you are researching locations and I also recommend getting really organized for this step.  You want to be able to easily compare the pros and cons, costs and stats.  

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1.  Style.  In my opinion, style is the most important decision-maker when it comes to choosing your venue.  There are so many options to choose from in the Seattle area, even more in the Pacific Northwest.  From waterfront to winery, warehouse to gallery, the possibilities are endless.  If you’ve been following along with this series, you’ve already begun to hone in on your particular style, now’s the time to use that inspiration!  Stay true to your style and don’t waste your time by visiting venues that don’t have the look you’re going for.  

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2.  Size.  This is huge.  By now, you’ve begun to think about your guest list and you know if you are having a big or a small wedding.  Don’t bother falling in love with a venue that is either too big or too small for your group.  Also be wary of choosing a space where you might fit, but you’d be at maximum capacity.  A crowded dining room with no room to dance is just going to disappoint you in the end!  Be sure to keep in mind that table style and layout have a huge impact on how many guests can fit in a space.  You can squeeze a bunch more round tables into a room but if you have your heart set on royal or farmhouse tables, far fewer will fit into the same space.

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3.  Rules.  Every venue has different rules.  Be sure to ask about all of their policies including: Do they have a list of approved vendors that you must work with?  What furnishings and equipment are included with the space and what do they look like?  What is the window of time your vendors have to set up and break down?  Are there additional charges to set up earlier?  Must you use their caterer or can you bring in your own?  Can you supply your own alcohol?  What are the restrooms like?  Do you need to rent portable restrooms?  Where will guests park?  Is there an additional charge for parking?  Is there a space for the bridal party to get ready?  How do they utilize the event spaces?  Will you have to “flip” the ceremony space to become the reception space?  How much staff do they have?  Is there an additional service fee on top of the rental cost?  Is the rental cost the same for all days of the week and times of the year?  If it is an outdoor venue, is there a rain plan?  Will you need to bring in additional lighting?  What layouts are most successful in the space?  

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4.  Cost.  Of course, the biggest deciding factor will be cost.  I recommend that you call or email a venue to get a ballpark idea of cost before visiting.  You don’t want to walk away heartbroken when you can’t afford your perfect location, so it’s best to pre-qualify your options.  Be sure to take into account all of the “hidden” costs, such as service charge, tax, fees for using outside vendors, parking/valet, transportation if the venue is remote, rental furniture and tents.  Sometimes a venue that seems expensive up front might actually be the same cost as a cheaper venue where you will have to bring in all the rentals, use a specific caterer, get a tent, etc.

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I know that this can seem daunting, but jump in there and try to have fun with it!  Getting this piece crossed off your list will be a huge relief!  And if you find yourself overwhelmed, now is the time to consider hiring a wedding planner.  In the end, the cost of hiring a planner really pays for itself when you consider their wealth of inside information, vendor relationships and the general piece of mind you will have on your wedding day knowing that everything is taken care of!

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