Selecting a venue is one of the biggest decisions that a bridal couple will have to make. Your wedding venue, be it a rustic barn or lush green garden, will set the tone and style of your wedding and will also influence the all-important budget. Our ReedValley function coordinator shares some pointers on what every bride should look out for.
Before you start planning anything, you absolutely need to establish a budget with your partner. There’s nothing worse than losing your heart on a particular venue only to find out that it’s way outside your budget. Discuss with your partner the “must-haves” and “nice-to-haves” for your special day. Accept that you will have to make compromises during the planning process. By knowing exactly what you want as well as having a realistic budget beforehand – you will save yourself (and your mother) a lot of time, planning, and, possibly, tears.
Draw up a venue research spreadsheet, a place where you can keep track of what each specific venue offers. Fields to include in your sheet: Name of venue, location, capacity, layout, rates, restrictions, parking, transport, DJ/entertainment, catering.
2. What are you getting for your money?
Before signing any contracts, be sure to find out how a venue’s costs are calculated and what is included in each fee. Are the use of tables and chairs included in the venue fee, or would you need to hire it extra? What part of the property will you have access to, only an inside venue our outside areas as well? Are free and ample parking available for your guests? The answers to these questions might affect your budget.
3. Verify vendor requirements
Discuss with the venue if there are any vendor relationships you are required to uphold. For example, do you have to use their food and beverage service? Is the venue perhaps able to arrange wines at special rates? Enquire which service providers the venue has relationships with; it will be easier to deal with a vendor that knows the set-up of your venue as well as the staff.
4. Save the date
Try not to decide on a specific date beforehand, it’s safer to rather pick a season/month and to be flexible within that period. Summer is the most popular wedding season but the Garden Route’s moderate climate makes winter weddings a great option. To save time, be sure to contact the venue about availability before you make an appointment for a viewing.
Create a wedding email that can be used for all wedding enquiries and electronic communication for example johnandjanewedding@…..com. This means that all details, contracts, brochures, etc. will go into one mailbox, freeing your work/personal email from all things wedding-related. This simple step will make specific information easier to find, saving you a lot of time and effort.
5. The guest list
Not all venues can accommodate a wide variety of wedding sizes and most will have a maximum number of guests allowed. Make sure to ask the venue for a timeline of when they will require the confirmed number of guests. Also find out if the venue is child-friendly and if it can accommodate guests with special needs (like wheelchairs), if needed.
6. Establish a timeline
How flexible is the venue regarding giving access to outside vendors? How long before the wedding will vendors be allowed to set up, and how long can the wedding décor, etc. stay up before it needs to be removed? If there are a lot of restrictions and limitations, if might put extra pressure on your vendor which may lead to extra costs. Also make sure to find out until what time the bar can stay open on the day of the wedding and until what time music can be played.
7. Naturally beautiful
If you are looking to have a rustic-themed wedding, choosing a venue that reflects this style will reduce how much you need to spend on décor details. A venue that’s set in a natural landscape, for example a farm, already contributes to the decorations of the wedding and also provides a stunning backdrop for photoshoots.
8. Location, location, location
If you’re considering a more remote venue, will you be providing transport for your guests or is this something that the venue can assist with? Is there adequate accommodation available for guests close to the venue? If guests will be driving, will parking be available – is it enough, and do you have to pay for it?
Choosing a venue is not always an easy decision and in today’s digital environment of Pinterest boards and Instagram, it’s easy to lose yourself in other people’s ideas. Right through the wedding planning process, it’s important to stay true to yourselves, and to choose a space and a theme that is representative of who you are.
Please contact us if you would like to make an appointment to view our wedding venue.