Today we’re unpacking 7 of our top tips for you to keep in mind when choosing your perfect wedding venue.
In the Austin, Texas area alone, there are well over 150 places you could host a wedding. That can quickly become overwhelming if you don’t have a plan in place before you begin your search!
While we may be a bit biased as to why Ma Maison is the best venue around (wink), we realize couples have different needs and requirements when it comes to choosing their perfect wedding venue.
Check out the list below for some things you should consider while venue shopping. Some of these tasks should be taken into account before you even set up tours – so we hope you’ll find these tips and tricks helpful. If you know of anyone looking for the perfect wedding venue, be sure to share this blog!
1. Consider hiring a planner FIRST
Planners are some of the most knowledgeable individuals in your area when it comes to wedding venues. Most of them have worked at a variety of venues, especially some of the more established planners. Planners have experience working events from start to finish so they get to see how things pan out in real time – this hands-on experience is invaluable. Also, a good planner will do some of the leg work for you, before presenting you with available options (as in asking about date availability and price).
This can help eliminate venues that wouldn’t even work within your budget, guest capacity, or desired timeframe.
When hiring a planner first, you get to meet or chat with them in the very initial steps of your planning process. During your conversation, they’ll ask all of the important questions that will help narrow down your selection. Questions like location, cost, guest count, style and aesthetic, inclement weather options, amenities, accessibility, and many other details that may be important (i.e. is the venue dog friendly if you’re wanting your fur baby as your ring bearer?).
Keep reading as we unpack some of these specifications!
Just know that having a planner who knows what your qualifications are from the beginning can help point you in the right direction!
2. Mind the budget
Nobody really enjoys talking about the handling of money (unless you’re a financial advisor or banker), but getting a good grasp on your overall wedding budget BEFORE doing anything is the best place to start. After all, would it make sense to go about paying your bills and shopping if you never checked your bank account or reconciled your finances? Going into things blindly when it comes to your wedding budget is a recipe for disaster.
Our advice is to find out these key things first:
– Who is contributing to the budget and how much?
– What is the range of wedding budgets in your area?
(tip: do not look up popular mainstream wedding websites for this information; your best bet is to ask a local planner!)
– In what categories are you willing to splurge and willing to save?
These are a few general questions to get you started on the right track. Use a wedding budget program or even a basic Excel spreadsheet to break down each category (remember the tiny things, even postage! It adds up when you send a save the date, invitation, and a RSVP card). Once you see the overall number, expect to spend about 30% of your budget on the venue (could be more depending on what the venue offers).
3. Compare what’s included
This may come as a surprise, but some venues only offer the use of the facility ONLY (as in use of four walls or the ground and that’s it). Others may include tables, chairs, linens, decor, a planner/venue manager, a rehearsal time slot, food, beverages, among other things. These are very important factors to consider when you’re comparing venues side-by-side.
If Venue A charges $15,000 and Venue B charges $8,000 it likely could come down to what is included (this isn’t always the case, but it is a good rule of thumb).
Venue A may provide upgraded crossback chairs where Venue B provides standard white folding chairs. Venue A may offer a $2,000 bar credit where Venue B requires you to outsource the bar.
Bottom line: don’t just look at the total cost without comparing what each venue provides.
4. Are there options in case of inclement weather?
We know you don’t want to think about it, but someone has to! You put months (even years) and a lot of money into planning your wedding – the last thing you’ll want to deal with on your wedding day is stress due to a lack of proper planning for when changes have to be made.
If the venue you’re leaning towards is an outdoor venue, where/or how would you keep you and your guests dry and safe if it storms 2 hours before your ceremony?
Is there an option for a tent?
How much would reserving a tent (and all its accessories) add to your total budget (not to mention the fact that most tents require a non-refundable deposit)?
If there is an indoor option on site, could it accommodate your guest count if that change needed to be made?
Weather contingency plans are also a great reason why having a professional coordinator/planner before selecting your venue is a wise idea!
(Allowing you to focus on soaking in the day, and not worrying about moving the entire ceremony set up to another side of the property…)
5. On site assistance: is there a venue manager or day of coordinator?
Each venue will differ when it comes to offering on site help. While some venues might include a day-of coordinator in your rental fee, others may only include a venue manager. It is very important to know the difference between the two.
An on site venue manager is there to be the eyes and ears of the venue itself. They are monitoring if guests are being safe, restocking the bathrooms, being there to answer venue related questions (i.e. “where is the first aid kit?”, “can we dim the lights for dancing?”). They are the first ones on site to greet you and your wedding party, and they lock up at the end of the night after ensuring all vendors are off the property. There may be some other responsibilities they manage, so be sure to ask.
If a day-of coordinator is included, they are responsible for managing the bridal party and the logistics of the day (i.e. the timeline, ceremony processional, layout, and vendor communication, to name a few), as well as helping with any day-of tasks like putting out minimal decor (family photos, bar signs, table numbers etc.), and making sure the bridal party knows where they need to be.
If a venue does not include a day-of coordinator, they may require you hire one as a part of their policy, and some will provide you with a required list that you choose from. If a coordinator is included, the venue fee may be more, so keep that in mind as you shop around.
6. Photo ops
You only get one set of wedding photos (generally), so you will want to ensure they will be beautiful and something you will enjoy for years to come! The landscape and scenery plays a big role in how a photo will look – so take the time to really observe the entire property of the venue. Think about all of the places you could capture some beautiful images. If there aren’t many options, then your photos may not have the variety that you are hoping for.
Try to get into the mindset of a photographer: will they have much room to get creative and get good lighting?
Tip: take this even a step further and look at blogs of real weddings from the venue itself – after looking at a few images you’ll have a good understanding of whether the venue is photogenic or not!
(We sure are!)
Where you get married may not matter much to you, but you should be considering the logistics for your guests. If any of your guests will be traveling, there are some questions you should be asking when taking a venue tour.
How far away is the nearest airport?
Are there decent hotels within a close radius?
Does Uber/Lyft operate in this area?
Would guest transportation (shuttle buses) be able to get onto the property easily?
The location of your venue should not only be convenient for your guests, but for you and your bridal party, as well.
There is a lot that goes into selecting your perfect wedding venue, but hopefully this list is a great place for you to start!
If you are searching for the perfect spot to say “I do” in Dripping Springs, Texas, we’d love to set up a tour with you and show you our beautiful property and answer any questions!
This is such an exciting and joyous time. Our goal is to assist you in your planning needs and make sure you feel minimal stress leading up to your wedding day.
Thank you for reading and congratulations on your engagement!
Be sure to soak in your big day and have FUN!
Wedding planner @eclipseeventco
Hair & Makeup @missionstylehouse
Beer Burros @earswithbeers