Once you’ve settled on a budget, the first thing to get squared away is a venue. It’s important to know what your wants and needs are before you start the search. Consider things like if they’ll let you choose your own caterer, how long they give you for set up, do you get along with the venue manager. All these things will really affect your wedding planning and wedding day experience. Once you reach out to venues and get preliminary pricing, I recommend only visiting venues in your price range. You don’t want to fall in love with a venue you can’t afford! Keep in mind some places may be higher in price but include more. Be sure to thoroughly read through the contract before you sign anything! And although a venue will tell you they provide a "wedding coordinator" keep in mind this coordinator knows the VENUE well, not necessarily every detail you've been dreaming of. They will know where light switches are, when it was built, what the name of that tree is, but if you hire a wedding coordinator they will know EVERY SINGLE DETAIL about your entire day from the minute you wake up until you leave for your honeymoon. A venue coordinator knows details pertaining just to the venue. When you hire a day-of coordinator they work solely for you! Their main goal is for you to have the most seamless, relaxing, and wonderful day possible. Obviously I'm a little biased but I always say a day-of coordinator is a priceless piece of your budget;)
Here are my top 5 things to consider when choosing a venue:
1. Price Range: Is it within your budget? What does the price include? Is it reasonable compared to other places you’ve looked?
2. Atmosphere: Do you absolutely love it? Can you envision your wedding pictures (that you’ll have FOREVER!) being taken there?
3. Location: How far will the majority of your guests have to travel? Do you need to do a room block at a local hotel? What about unexpected weather options? Heat? Rain?
4. Size: Is it big enough for your guest count? Comfortably? Is there space for you to get ready? Do a first look? Are there separate cocktail and reception areas?
5. Catering: Is catering included? Do they have a preferred list you must choose from? Can you bring in your own? If you’re set on a certain restaurant/caterer, make sure the venues you look at allow outside vendors to be brought in.