It’s that time already; the time for you to find the perfect venue for your wedding! With so many options, it can be a bit overwhelming to know which venue is best for you. But no fear! We have worked with dozens of venues all over the Midwest and have a few tips to help you choose the perfect spot for your special day.
Begin early. Some venues book over a year in advance, but don’t let that scare you! Looking for a venue should be one of the first things on your to-do list. Starting early gives you time to make the right choice and find the perfect venue for your wedding.
Have a guest list planned already. We aren’t saying you need to have RSVPs already, but having an idea of how many people to attend can help you pick the perfect place. You’ll want the right size venue for your event. If you are going to have around 50 guests, placing them in a venue meant for 200 will mean you’ll be paying for space you won’t utilize, and it can make the venue feel a little overwhelming. On the other hand, if you’re planning on 200 guests, trying to squeeze them into a venue meant for 150 will make it very cramped and guests uncomfortable. Having a good idea of how many guests you are expecting (make sure to include yourself and the bridal party as well!) will help make sure the size is right for you.
Trust the venue. This goes back to the tip above. If a venue says they can only comfortably fit 150, don’t try and put 200 people in the room. Each venue has done hundreds of events, so they know what works and what doesn’t. We also recommend listening to the vendors the venue usually works with. For example, I Do Events is a vendor for Countryside Banquet & Catering, which means we are there every weekend. We know exactly what to expect when we arrive for a setup. Because we’re there so often, we can anticipate any issues and know what to do if a problem comes up, and the staff we need to work with to correct it. If a venue allows outside catering, the vendors they recommend have used the venue’s kitchen before and are familiar with the layout. Your special day should be stress free and having people that work closely together on your team can make sure you don’t have to deal with any issues. Trusting the venue knows best is always recommended!
Pay attention to the season. You may not want an outside dance floor in the middle of July, when it will probably be hot and humid. You can never know if it will rain or not (Welcome to the Midwest!) so have a backup plan just in case if you are having an outdoor venue. Check out our other blog about some great ways to make the best of a rainy day:)
Think of transportation. Think of how guests will be coming from the ceremony to the reception, and where they will go afterwards. If you’re planning on doing the ceremony and reception at the same venue, know where people should go for the cocktail hour. Keep in mind where people are going after the reception. If people will be drinking a lot, you don’t want anyone trying to drive home. Offering a bus service or having the reception at a hotel like Crowne Plaza – Springfield is a great way of making sure everyone not only has a great time, but a safe time.
The wedding isn’t over at the end of the night. While this isn’t the most exciting part, everything that comes up, must come down. Some venues like the Waterhouse in downtown Peoria will let you remove decor on the Monday after the wedding, while some will need it all down that night. No worries though! I Do Events often does midnight teardowns and will be able to get your linens down that night once the party is over. To avoid extra charges or calls when you’re relaxing on your honeymoon, make a plan ahead of time to prepare for the decor.
Know what’s included. The venue is probably one of the biggest expense for your wedding. Each place has a different pricing model, so make sure to check and see what is included in the price. Some hotels such as I-Hotel in Champaign, IL may give a discount on room when you do your reception there. Some like The Gateway Building have low rental costs for the space, but be sure to factor in any additional expenses such as cleanup crew, catering, etc. Don’t take the baseline as the final price; know everything that is included, and the expense of getting things that aren’t included. What may seem like a pricey option may be more affordable when you look at the big picture.
Compare apples to apples. While at first glance a venue might appear to be the least expensive option, be sure to read completely through the contract. Many venues have up charges for things you may not be thinking about yet. Is there a charge for bringing in an outside vendor? What is the tax and gratuity charge and what items do they charge it on? Is there a bar tending fee? Do you have to pay for early access to the room? All of these extra charges may add up and greatly altar the base price of a venue. Be sure to ask the questions and review the fine print.
Ask questions. Speaking of questions. Make sure you have a list prepared of questions for the venue. When it comes down to decide between different places, you’ll want as much information as possible. Below is a great list we made for you to take on your venue tours.
Keep an open mind. Have fun with the process and keep an open mind when looking. What a venue looks like empty will not be what it looks like when it’s filled with set tables, centerpieces, chair covers, etc. Try to imagine what it will look like on your special day.
Stay Tuned. Bookmark this blog for our upcoming blog series, Venue Analysis from the Pros. We’ll be taking a look at wedding venues by city and giving you our honest feedback on each one.