So you’ve said YES and you’ve told all your closest friends and family that you’re getting married!
The next step is to choose your venue. Sounds easy right? Well, unfortunately no.
Because there are so many venues to choose from, the process of choosing one to celebrate your special day at is, well, a PROCESS.
And when you’re on a strict budget, your options for venues slim down considerably.
However, being on a budget doesn’t mean you have to settle for a venue that doesn’t fit your dream.
That being said, how do you go about finding the right venue?
Well, the absolute first thing you need to do is write a budget. Not just a budget for your venue; write out the entire budget for your wedding.
Why is this so important?
Once you have your budget figured out, you will know EXACTLY how much you have to spend on each part of your wedding. That means you won’t accidentally overspend and dig yourself into a deep, dark pit of debt.
Enough said, moving on.
Once you have your budget in place, start brainstorming with your soon-to-be spouse about what you’d like to have in your venue.
What’s your wedding theme?
Do you want an indoor or outdoor venue?
Create your ideal wedding day on paper, and be aware of things you’d be willing to compromise on. Knowing what you want will help tremendously in your venue selection.
How do you know you’re not getting ripped off?
Ask the right questions!
This past week I was on a mission to find the most essential questions to ask and actions to take when looking for a venue.
I spoke with tons of wedding experts on Twitter to find out their tried and true techniques.
And the advice they gave is absolutely perfect.
So before you get swindled by that beautiful and over-priced winery, find out what questions you should be asking the venues you visit.
@savvybride said: “It’s important to ask what rental cost includes. Some venues just charge for space while others include tables/chairs, etc.”
And they’re absolutely right, you may think you’re getting a great deal on a venue, and later find out that you have to spend tons of moolah to rent tables, chairs, dinnerware, speakers, etc. During your tour of any venue it is essential that you find out this information.
@Justforthedayof had similar advice, saying that the question to start your venue visit, or call, with is: “What’s included with your venue rental?” If you fall in love with a venue that doesn’t offer an all-inclusive price, you will have to consult your budget and prepare for any add-ons.
Note: “Add-ons” is not a term that means adding additional money to your budget (seriously, don’t), they are simply additional costs, such as table and chair rentals, that will have to fit into your current budget. If you can’t fit the add-ons into your budget, you need to find a different venue.
Remember how I said you need to construct your ideal wedding venue before you start looking for one? @FBBespokeEvents agrees: “Make sure the venue fits your theme and specific requirements.” Requirements being those essential aspects you’re not willing to compromise on. Ever.
FB Bespoke Events went on to say, “Be sure to explore all the hidden cost associated with the venue [and] find out if there are extras that can be given for free.”
Extras? For free? You heard right!
What kind of extras would be offered for free at a wedding venue?
The kind of extras FBBE is referring to are generally part of all-in-one venue rentals, such as diningware and table set up and teardown, but they could also include special deals not normally included in package deals. Definitely ask about all the details!
@AllRelEvents had a related response: “Ask for a comprehensive list of what’s included and if what you need isn’t there, ask for that too. No surprises.” Many venues will have different all-inclusive deals already written up. Some packages may have too many items, too few, or they may offer items you don’t want. See if you can swap out items on the list for other things you’d like to have at your wedding.
Remember it never hurts to ask more questions, and you don’t want to get hit with hidden costs that will spoil the most magical day of your life.
Let’s pause for a minute, because maybe you just want some simple straightforward advice. Well, guess what, venues like straightforwardness too! @ColinWeddings suggests that you “Be straightforward!” because “Venues will be upfront about their prices.”
And if the venue you’re looking at isn’t willing to work with you? Ditch ‘em. There’s always another venue willing to work with what you want.
Ready for some more great tips for finding the perfect venue and staying within your budget?
Yep? Me too!
I love @RightWedding’s response: “We would highly recommend more than one visit to see how receptive the venue is to emails and questions.” Roughly translated: See how willing the venue is to work with you and answer your questions over the course of your engagement. Feel like pulling teeth to get a response? That’s an excellent sign to move on.
Right Wedding brings up a fantastic reason for making sure the venue staff is responsive and flexible: “You will have a lot of questions in the coming months [leading up to your wedding], so you need to feel confident the venue will be helpful.” This is supposed to be one of the most wonderful times of your life, so save yourself the stress and find a venue that continues to be helpful and supportive.
Another thing to inquire about is whether the venue charges on a fixed cost basis (per head) or not. @Inspire_Wedding chimed in on this: “We recommend trying to get as many things on a fixed cost basis (per head) so you don’t get any unexpected bills. Some venues do offer combined accommodation and service packages, it all depends on your budget.”
Basically if you’re getting married during wedding season (May-October, December) you’re going to pay more overall for your wedding. But if you choose to get married in the off-season you have a better chance of bargaining prices with a venue and getting exactly what you want within your budget.
Since I’ve mentioned bartering and keeping the price within your budget, I will also note another comment made by @RightWedding concerning the discussion of your pre-determined budget with the venue: “[It’s] better to see what they [the venue] offer you and then you can negotiate with them.
But definitely know your budget at the very beginning!” In other words, be aware of your own budget and do your best to negotiate the venue price down to a budget-friendly price, but don’t tell the venue your budget up-front.
Why? If you play your cards right, you may be able to book the venue for LESS than your allotted budget. If the venue knows how much you’re willing to spend it’s unlikely they’ll offer services for less (unless their price is below your budget already).
Okay, so what if you haven’t decided on a date for your wedding, and really the date doesn’t matter all that much because you’re just so excited to get married to your best friend. This could definitely work in your favor when you visit venues.
@BridalMusings says, “Ask them [the venue] about their price per person, along with what their cheapest days/months are, and if they offer any specials.”
Did you see that? You can choose your wedding date based on your venue’s most inexpensive day/month to book. Note: Most venues offer cheaper venue rental on weekdays, which may interfere with your guests’ workday, plan accordingly (and remember it’s YOUR day.)
Let’s explore another scenario: For whatever reason, you’ve decided to have a short engagement, and you need to book a venue ASAP. Check local venues to see if they have any cancellations within your timeframe.
@Bettymccaul says “Cancellations are a great way to get a discount if the day is close!” When venues lose business because of a cancellation they’re going to work extra hard to get a booking for that day, so they’re more willing to offer their space at a discount.
Finally, you’ve worn out your shoes visiting venues and negotiating prices. You’ve found one that has a great space and totally fits with your budget. What’s next? @DIYWeddingApp suggests you “ask for complete pricing and policies in writing: cancellation, max capacity, using your own vendors, set up time frame.”
Keep your venue honest and save yourself a lot of time, worry, and money. I haven’t really touched on this, but if you plan to use vendors not employed by your venue of choice, such as a caterer, make sure the venue won’t hit you with a hidden cost.
As suggested by @AlexiaDesignsUK you should ask venues if they have a corkage fee, and if they do, ask if the fee includes VAT (value added tax).
In short, cover every aspect of your wedding before your decide on a venue.
Does the venue have a policy on decorations? Vendors? Alcohol?
Plan your wedding, book a venue, get hitched, Happily Ever After.
Looking for additional venue advice?
For planning advice and additional questions to ask:
For pros and cons of different wedding venues and additional questions to ask:
For additional questions:
Jessica Bishop: The Budget Savvy
Just for the Day
Colin Cowie Weddings
HEY! Wedding Day
DIY Wedding Planner
Betty McCaul Bridal