The first thing we did after my daughter Desiree became engaged was to decide on a venue. Desiree and her husband Tony had decided they wanted to keep their guest list at about 200 people. So we went looking for a place that could fit that size of party. There was a brand new venue in town and it was just beautiful. We went to visit and and we were the first to tour the venue. The person giving us the tour assured us that they could easily fit 200 guests. We gave them $1,400 deposit, signed a contract and were so excited. Until we hired our decorator and she went to look at the venue. She said yes - they can fit 200 people but they didn't take into account that you need space for a cake table, for a sweetheart table, for the DJ, gift table, a dance floor - etc! She said in order to fit all that we needed, we could have to cut the guest list. We were having trouble keeping it at 200 much less cut it further! So I called the owner and explained the situation. I needed out of this contract. The owner got very angry with me but did let me out of the contract and refunded the entire amount. We weren't trying to be difficult, we just wanted to be able to fit the 200 guests. So we took that $1,400 and rented a venue that fit 500 people. You know what that means. Our guest list grew and grew and grew.
Here are some tips from Cortnie Purdy, owner of the Venue Report (we can relate to #3!) :
1. Think About Location
Decide whether you want to marry close to home or if you want a destination affair that involves more complicated logistics.
2. Set Your Budget First
Knowing what you have to spend helps narrow your initial search.
3. Lock In Your Head Count
Do not fall in love with a place that can't fit your guests. This is one thing a venue can't budge on, no matter how kindly you ask.
4. Pick a Time of Year
Select a season and a few dates that work for you within it. Time of year affects whether you can have an indoor or outdoor event, as well as your bill. (Some venues offer discounted rates in the winter and charge more in the summer.)
5. Visit in Person
It's often the energy of a place that strikes a chord. You can't get that in photos.
6. Meet the Staff
The team behind the venue is as important as the site itself. You want to work with people you like!
7. Get Recs
Trust your gut, absolutely, but read online reviews and ask your friends what they know about the places you're considering too. If someone has heard bad things, chances are they're true.
8. Ask Questions
Does the venue have bathrooms? Does it allow open flames? Discuss what's important to you in the beginning because if you don't, it will bother you later on.
9. Put Everything in Writing
When you're ready to book, work up a contract that includes all the tiny details, like permits, the rain plan, set-up fees, et cetera. Nothing should be left up to interpretation.
Hope this helps you!