"OMG OMG OMG OMG he proposed, im so excited!!!! Now what????" Well, buckle up for a Roller coaster you hope to forget, and probably will because the process is worth it! So what do you do first? Pick your photographer? Pick Colors? Ask your best Friend to be your Best man or Maid of Honor? NOPE! Pick your date and be flexible with it.
Picking a date is one of the most important things you can pick out, because without that date, you dont have a wedding. What people don't realize is, that picking the date and picking your Venue are almost one and the same! The reason why is you can have your venue all picked out, but if you call them, and they dont have your date, your location may change Drastically. SO before you contact any other vendors, Get your Venue booked! So lets talk about that! LOL
What to look for in a Venue! Well, what do you want? LOL A lot of people don't think about what they want, They tend to think about how much it will cost. Is Cost a factor? YES!!!! But your First step in picking a venue, is to pick a place that suits your style, what you have and will want your wedding to look like. There are are many styles of Venues, but in short, they break down in very simple ways. Themed ( Country, Beach, Spanish style, etc.), Traditional ( Religious, Family Oriented, Backyard, etc.) Classic/Elegant (Gulf Course, Casino, Hotel, Winery, etc.). Now some of these get combined, can look the same, etc. But overall, every wedding is different and special, and merge both stiles of your family.
Pricing and Budgeting is key, because it really sets the tone of your wedding. Most Wedding venues start there pricing out at between $5000 and $10000 and will increase in price depending on what your wanting and needing. Now before you freak out about these prices and Dollar amounts, keep in mind, these prices include mostly everything you will need for your wedding. Key things these prices do not or would not include, is your photographer (and photography based services, i.e. Photo booth, Video-geography, etc), your DJ/MC, Your Wedding Cake, Your Clothes, Your Hotel, Wedding Planner/Coordinator (this is Venue based, some venues include this vendor, some dont), etc. Best way to find all this out, is to have a consult with your venue, look through there packages, there contracts, etc. Get as much info as you can, before you choose your venue.
When Choosing your venue, remember, you are the boss, but they control everything! Some Venues Restrict or control itineraries, where you can and cant go, vendors, etc. This can be a good thing, as well as a bad thing. Keep in mind, some venues book more then one wedding in a day, especially on prime days (like Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays). or during prime seasons (Changes depending on where your located). This is good because it helps you cut down on costs and adding hours with your other vendors. the bad part is that if your the morning event, you have to be out on time so they can set up for the next event or if your the evening event, you may not have as much time to set everything up before the ceremony. They can limit Photographers, Photography Time, and Prime Locations. Most times, Venues have their own preferred Photographers and want couples to use them. Good part is, they know and work well with the staff, know and can use prime locations, etc. Bad part is vendors may not allow you prime photography locations, and can be pretty expensive.
Size Matters! YES, That is right! Size Matters. There is no way you are going to know how many people you are expecting to have at your wedding when you book your venue. But have an idea. Best rule of thumb is Its better to have it and not need it, rather then need it and not have it. So if you plan for more people and they dont show, you have plenty of space, vs you cant add more space to a venue. Also, when looking at size of your venue, consider both there inside and outside locations. In short, there are 3 options with venues and there locations. Both ceremony and reception inside. one is inside and one is outside, and both are outside. So Choose what works for you, and go with it.
Outside vs inside options. As I mentioned, Size does matter, so consider your space. If both your ceremony and reception are inside, Weather is not a factor! but size, time, and space are! You want to make sure you have enough space for all your guests, Tables, other vendors, as well as space to walk around, you dont want an over crowded room where no one can walk, let alone have fun. Size and space may seem like they are the same, and in most parts they are, But when I talk about size, im talking about amount of people, etc. Space I am refering to the space for both, If the space or rooms serve both functions, will you have a space or another room or location to have your guests hang out while the room is being transformed. Most Venues have ceremony inside then have the reception inside. One of the major issues of having anything outside is weather. Weather is Key, You cant control it, you cant really predict it (other then looking it up, which is a 50/50 chance of being right. Expect the worst, hope for the best, Plan as if it may rain that day, have a back up plan, that way if you need it, its already a plan and your not stressing out. Plan if its going to Rain, If its cold and windy, plan if its to hot!
Location! Location! Location! Pick a venue that is easy to get to, There is nothing worse then having to delay your wedding because of Traffic, people getting lost, No parking, etc. One of my First weddings, The wedding was delayed 3 hours because the officiant was late. When things run late, it may kill your wedding plans. You have to rush, you don't get the time to get great pictures, food might be over cooked, people may get upset because they are waiting, and it may cost you a lot more money if your vendors are time based and you have to extend your time the day of, etc. To ensure Everything runs smooth and on time, Do Trial runs with hair, make up, etc. Plan extra time with your venue and vendors to ensure that if you need it, you have it. Send your guests maps to the venue or venues. Ensure all the key players are at the rehearsal (officiant, wedding party, DJ, Planners, Immediate Family Members, etc.)
View ALL the amenities the venue has to offer! Check out getting ready locations. Some venues only have one for the bride, and its not big at all. So check thought out. Consider photography locations, are they close to ceremony and reception location? Will you need to travel to the location? Check out the ceremony site, the reception site, the Bar, the parking, etc. Make sure you Love, love, love your venue.