Selecting a wedding venue can be a daunting task and a professional wedding planner can be an invaluable asset to help get through the process, especially when it comes to international destinations. Planners are trained to look at things through a logistical/practical lens as well as an aesthetic one and will know the non-negotiables to be on the lookout for. Hear some advice from weddings experts on how to navigate the complexities of venue selection.
1. Logistics, Budget & Date
Having an established budget and general destination in mind will play major roles in the wedding venue that is ultimately selected. While this may seem obvious, it’s easy to get swept away in the moment. Understanding what is affordable before falling in love with venues that are unrealistic can avert much stress and heartache.
Pro Tip: Alexa Guadagno of LM Media Worldwide LLC / Kleinfeld Hotel Blocks advises clients against getting hooked on finding the perfect wedding date. “You might fall in love with a venue that is already booked on the date you want. Find your perfect venue and let the date find you. If it is meant to be, they will have a date available that you like,” said Guadagno.
2. Online Venue Searches
When it comes to preliminary online venue investigating, a platform such as ALHI Weddings gives you the ability to narrow down your search by country, region or venue type. It enables you to put together a comprehensive, curated list of perspective venues and work with one individual to check availability, get proposals, set up site visits and negotiate contracts. This saves you from having to contact multiple properties, follow up to get responses and/or navigate language barriers.
Pro Tip: Nancy Barkley, Owner and Founder of Honeymoons and Get-A-Ways, said that before you start looking for potential venues, “identify your needs and set your budget. Think about the size of the wedding, what kind of setting you'd like and how much you can realistically afford to spend. This will help narrow down your options and keep you focused on venues that fit your criteria.”
3. Ambiance & Vibe
Knowing the overall ambiance, aesthetic and wedding style are key to homing in on the perfect venue. For example, couples looking for a barefoot elegance experience may not want to include classic hotel ballrooms on their list. Those seeking a contemporary, more modern setting might not want to explore farmhouses in Vermont. When narrowing down the list of locales, understanding what is and isn’t included in a venue is critical. Some wedding venues are all-inclusive, including everything from catering to linens to furniture and audio visual. Other spaces are blank slates where you need to bring in everything. Knowing and fully understanding these details are critical to ensuring that you stay within your budget and avoid any unpleasant, last-minute surprises.
Pro Tip: “My biggest piece of advice would be to book your planner/designer first,” said Stacie Hawkins, Founder, Lead Planner & Designer Stacie & Co. “Our process starts from the very beginning and that includes finding and booking your venue. This is one of the most important steps as the venues says so much about your day. Not only is this location somewhere that will forever have a meaning to you as a couple, but we also want to venue to somehow fit into your story.”
4. Tour Potential Venues
The one resounding point all experts emphasize to is visit potential venues in person, ideally with your planner. In addition to really getting a feel for the space, it’s also the perfect opportunity to ask questions. Visiting a venue also enables you to understand what your guests’ experience will be. From ease of accessibility for older relatives to scoping out the restrooms, you can ensure the details that will make your guests have a seamless experience.
Pro Tip: “I am all about lists”, said Marcie Kahrs of LM Media Worldwide, LLC/Kleinfeld Hotel Blocks. “I would start writing a wish list of everything you are looking for in a venue and rank these items in order, so when you visit the venue, you make sure it checks most of your boxes. You also need to connect with your catering manager; super important that you are comfortable with them and trust them.”
5. Sign on the Bottom Line
While making the final decision on your wedding venue can be a sense of accomplishment, it’s important not to rush the contracting process. Read all documents thoroughly and ask questions. Make sure you understand everything that is included in the rental; know all costs upfront; understand weather contingency plans; get a clear understanding of all policies, especially the cancellation policy; and make sure the payment plan makes sense. Once you’re comfortable with all aspects of the contact and are ready to sign on the dotted line, it’s time to celebrate what’s arguably one of the most crucial and difficult decisions you’ll make sure the wedding planning process.