Engagement season is most definitely upon us and my social feeds have been flooded with countless ring shots and engagement announcements.The best memory I have of 2017 was getting engaged. I’ve spent the last 10 months planning my dream wedding and I can’t believe that we only have 6 months to go. It seems surreal to me that months and months of planning are about to come to a head in what feels like such a short time (even though it hasn’t been!). This ‘Wedding Wednesday’ I wanted to share some tips and tricks I learned in the planning process for finding that perfect venue.
There are so many great resources out there and I would highly recommend using them to your advantage. Looking for venues can be really overwhelming; there are just too many options. The Knot and WeddingWire have directories with all the venues you could possibly imagine. If you already know the type of venue you want (catering hall, mansion, hotel, etc) you can filter your search to just those. If you’re unsure, I recommend narrowing it down to a few that you are interested in seeing for each category. Read the reviews. They are extremely insightful and can give you a better idea of if the place has what you’re looking for. Take advantage of The Knot planning assistants. They have a totally free service where a specialist will schedule your appointments to tour venues for you based on your availability. This was SO helpful to me. Many places I needed to call during the work day to schedule appointments and unfortunately during the day did not have the time to be making twenty phone calls when I was supposed to be working. She will even text you and keep you updated throughout the process. If you live in the Tri-State area, I recommend booking your venue tours as soon as you get engaged. Venues book up really quickly and often times if you wait too long you are left with little to no dates left for the following year. New York brides– if there is one thing you take from this post, let it be that! Trust me on this one.
When you arrive that day, come prepared with a lot of questions. These questions will help you to decide which venue has what you need on your big day. Here are some of the best questions to ask during the tour-
- Is my date available?! We obviously all go in with a certain date in mind but depending on where you are looking some venues book faster than others. We looked at our venue 1.5 years out and there were very limited dates available by that point.
- If my date is not available, what is the next closest available?
- If they have not provided pricing yet, ask for the price per person as well as any additional fees that are mandatory. These fees can include administrative fees, site fees (for mansion or historical landmark spaces), tip/tax, ceremony fees, etc. The price per plate is only just the beginning and you need to have all of the information handy in order to make an educated decision about what works within your budget.
- What is the difference in pricing per person to get married in a different season? Fall, Winter & Early Spring are often cheaper options than getting married during peak times in the summer. It’s always good to know these pricing differentials in case you are open to changing your date based on your budget.
- How many people does the venue comfortably sit? Another important question to help determine if a venue is a good fit. If you know your guest list is 300+, you can’t choose a wedding at a venue that only holds 200. On the other end of the spectrum, if you love a place that only holds 200, you may be willing to cut your list to make it work at that place.
- Does the number of guests that must be guaranteed change per day of the week? For example, you must guarantee 200 guests on a Saturday but only 125 on a Sunday. If you guarantee 200 guests and only 180 attend, you are still on the hook for paying for the 200.
- How can payments be made to the venue? Some venues only allow 1-2 payments to be made by credit card and the rest must be in check or cash.
- How much is the deposit and is it refundable?
- How long do we have the space available to us?
- Do you provide catering or do we need to hire an outside caterer? Are linens, glassware, silverware, etc also provided or does it need to be rented from a vendor?
- Do you allow tastings before booking in order to ensure we like the food prior to booking? Many people don’t ask this but so many places allow it! I always say it’s better to be safe than sorry.
- What is the contingency plan for bad weather? This is important if you are having an outdoor ceremony, cocktail hour or reception.
- What time can vendors start setting up for the wedding the day of?
- What is the price per person to feed my vendors?
- Is there a certain time that the DJ or band must end? Some venues (especially outdoor ones) must stop playing music at a certain time.
- How many restrooms are there?
- Is there space to host an after party and how much will that cost additionally to use?
- When do we select our menu?
- Does the menu include a wedding cake or is that something we need to provide?
- How many bridal attendants will there be day of? Is there a planner on site?
- Do you have a generator? The most important question of all. The day of Hurricane Sandy, weddings went on at our venue without a hitch while most of Long Island lost power. In the case of an emergency, you want to be covered.
These questions should help you narrow down the venue search to find the one that’s perfect for you. Stay tuned for more Wedding Wednesday posts where I will share some more tips!