How to Find the Perfect Wedding Venue - Part 1
You’ve got your guest list, your top 3 priority list items, and a rough idea of when you want to get married. Now it’s time to start the venue search!
Play the elimination game with The Knot’s magazine
Girl, indulge and grab yourself a copy of The Knot’s magazine that’s specific to your region. If there’s ever been a time to take a bubble bath with a glass of bubbles and a wedding magazine, this it it. Flip through those pages, get inspired, enjoy! But, pro-tip, the really good stuff is at the back of the magazine!
Hiding at the end, there is a list of venues specific to that magazine’s region. There’s a column for venue capacity, price range, locations, descriptions, all the goods. Awesome!
Remember the game Guess Who? Grab a black marker because you’re about to play a similar game with this magazine list! Start with your guest list - what’s your total count? If it’s something like 176 guests, cross off all venues that have a 100 guest limit. You might be able to squeeze down to a 150 guest limit so don’t cross these off.
Circle all venues with a count of 200 or more. Keep playing the same game with the other columns. Hate ballrooms? Cross out those venues. 4 dollar signs and your budget allows for 2 dollar signs? Bye!
After you’ve gone through all the columns, star the venues that made it through the game with no cross-outs.
Contact the first round of venues
Take your list of starred venues and begin emailing or calling each venue. Mention your name, guest count, if you want your ceremony and/or reception at the venue, and when you would like to get married in the email. To make the process go faster, grab the free template I used to create vendor inquiry emails HERE.
If you know you already want to visit the venue, include potential visit dates in your inquiry email.
It’s a good idea to recognize how long it takes a venue to respond. Most venues will get back to you within a few days. If your communication is good with a venue, take that as a positive sign moving forward. If you book with them, you want to be able to reach them in a timely manner for questions or concerns. The same approach goes with venues that take forever and a day to get back to you - do you really want to deal with unresponsive venue during the weeks leading up to your big day?
Compare venue prices and packages
Once you receive a few venue brochures and pricing guides, you’ll start to see that *gah* they all include different things! One has table linens included, one has a DJ in the price, and another has a specific food minimum order. How the heck do you compare apples to peaches and peaches to zucchini?
Start by making a comparison list of all your top venue picks. I made my own spreadsheet (launching soon!) to compare different venues. If you want to really compare apples to apples, it helps to break it down into manageable bites.
I would also recommend using these steps with WeddingWire, theKnot, or even WeddingBee to find new venues. I personally found the the Knot covered 95% of the venues in my area and I loved the no-nonsense list. If there are any brand new venues in your area, they might not be on the Knot’s list yet.
Keep reading with How to Find the Perfect Venue - Part 2