During the past month or so, we've given you some insight into the first four steps you should take once you start your wedding planning process. Once you have an accurate sense of budget and guest list, you'll be able to start considering venue and wedding date options. Here are our best tips to help you find the perfect wedding venue on your perfect date.
Research. Research. Ask around. Research. Once you have a few venues in mind that you'd like to explore further, check them out on wedding blogs and on photographers' websites before and after visiting them in person. When you visit a venue, you'll likely just see the empty space as a blank canvas. Seeing real wedding photos of the venue (beyond just the ones available on their own website) will give you much better idea of what things can (and really do) look like. This can be especially helpful if you aren't able to visit the venue during the season you plan on getting married.
If you have a budget that more of the strict side, make sure any venue-related costs beyond their estimate are taken into account. For some industrial spaces or estates, you may need to bring in all rentals, including a kitchen for catering or restrooms. You will also want to consider any vendor restrictions as that may affect your labor costs.
Think about all the event spaces you would use and how guests will walk from one to the next. Does the venue have separate areas for ceremony, cocktails, and reception? If not, one of the spaces may require a changeover, which may also affect your budget.
Keep in mind that signing a venue contract and putting down a deposit is binding and will likely be one of the biggest chunks of your budget. Make sure you are certain that it's the right venue for both of you and the celebration you are envisioning.
Just because selecting a date is the last of the first things to do once you're engaged, doesn't mean you can't think about dates until you've found a venue you love. Just know that if you're dead-set on a date before anything else, it may be more difficult to find available venues that fit your other criteria. That being said, if you’ve always had a date in mind (maybe it's your grandparents' wedding anniversary, a holiday you love or another meaningful day), you can definitely make it work. You’ll just have to be more flexible when it comes to which sites are available.
Our biggest suggestion is to be mindful of any religious or cultural holidays that may impact travel plan for some of your guests. If you plan on getting married at a house of worship, there may even be restrictions on whether you're allowed to marry at these times. This mindfulness also plays in to remembrance days. We're talking about historically significant days, like the anniversary of September 11th, for example, that may be off limits for big military families.