The search is on! And if you read my last blog post on the top 30 wedding venues in Seattle, you know that have a lot of options. Whether you are looking for a Seattle-based wedding venue, or something half way across the globe, getting your thoughts and priorities in order first, is crucial.
They say planning is done best from big picture to small detail. Start by narrowing down your options based on important criteria to you and your partner.
Do you have a set date in mind? If so, the first thing you will want to know is if your venues of interest are available that day.
How many guests can be comfortably accommodated?
Would it be suitable for both the ceremony and reception?
Is it in the budget? (The real budget. Not the imaginary one. ;)) If not, always ask if there are days of the week, or seasons, that come with discounts. If you are a little flexible on the day, it might get you the venue of your dreams.
Does it feel right? That’s the biggie. You know what your wedding looks like in your head. You know how you want to feel, what you want to see, how you want it to be experienced. Can this venue provide that for you?
It is important to stay realistic. Although it is fun, there is no point in lusting after a venue that simply won’t fit your big Italian family, or would put you into serious debt just by saying, “I do.” Once you have narrowed down the list, and have identified the ones that seem to fit all, or most, of your criteria, it is time to schedule a visit! Seeing it in person will definitely give you more intel for this oh-so-important decision. Keep in mind – websites do not always do a venue justice. If you are struggling to get a good feel for it, but also can’t cross it off the list just yet…visit it! You’ll get your answer.
Once you have the visits scheduled, you will want to put together a list of important questions. It is helpful to use the same set of questions on each visit so that you can compare answers before making a final decision. I’ve put together a list of some of the most necessary queries for cutting the short list even shorter.
Is there a space for the bride and/or groom to get ready on-site?
How do they handle the schedule and flow of the day? If the ceremony and reception are in the same location, how do they maneuver between set-ups? Some choose to have a cocktail hour (not always an hour. :)) between the ceremony and the reception, giving the staff an opportunity to transform the environment.
If any part of the day will be outside, what are the backup plans in case of rain or other weather-related issues?
Who is responsible for setup and teardown? (And how far in advance can the vendors arrive to begin setup?)
Parking – make sure that guests won’t be stuck walking long distances, and that there are necessary accommodations available for guests who are unable to maneuver stairs.
Are they open to you deciding on your own vendors, or do they have a preferred set of vendors that they will ask you to use?
What are the bar options? Some locations do not allow alcohol, while others have restrictions on the type of alcohol allowed to be served.
What are the decoration limitations? If you plan to use candles, make sure those are allowed.
Pricing: What is, and is not, included in the price? (Ask about hidden costs such as: service charges, gratuities, cleaning fees, etc.)
What is the deposit requirement? Is there a cancellation policy?
Who would be the main point of contact, and what is their role? Will they be available on the day-of for coordination purposes?
I could go on, but those are some of the hefty ones that can help further dwindle down the list of possibilities. Don’t commit straight away. Think about it. See more than a few places in person. But don’t wait too long. The good ones go quick!
Once you make that final decision on where your wedding will be held, the relief will be huge. That is one of the biggest pieces to this intricate puzzle, and having those fall into place is liberating. You’ve got this! You’re almost there! OK…not almost, but progress is progress, my friends!
Joanna Monger is a wedding and boudoir photographer located in Snohomish, WA serving the Greater Seattle area. Photography coverage including but not limited to Seattle, Snohomish, Bellevue, Everett, Woodinville, Monroe and surrounding areas.
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