We’re thrilled to welcome Sarah Chancey, wedding designer and owner of Chancey Charm Weddings, to share her tips to find the perfect wedding venue!
From Sarah: “Finding the perfect venue is the first part of the wedding planning process. It can be one of the most enjoyable parts of the wedding planning process, but with so many options it can also quickly become the most overwhelming. Before scheduling any on-site tours, I suggest emailing a few venues for pricing and space availability. The last thing any couple would want is to fall in love with a venue they can’t afford or will not accommodate their guest list. Selecting a few “perfect fit” venues to tour in one day will help eliminate what I like to call “venue fatigue” and make your choice easier.
My second piece of advice, when setting a budget for the venue, is to invest a bit more in a quality space and avoid the mentality that you can “spruce it up” with decorations. When you choose a venue that needs a lot of décor to create the location you’ve been dreaming of, you often end up spending far more than if you had chosen a quality location, with little need for décor, from the beginning. I give this advice to all of our clients at Chancey Charm, and it always relieves stress and budgets during the rest of the planning process.
Finally, we often hear brides say that they are choosing a piece of family property with the intention of saving money on the cost of a venue. However, outdoor weddings, especially at an un-established venue, often have hidden costs, especially if your wedding will be larger than 50 guests. Renting tents, bathrooms, and generators all add up quickly, negating and even surpassing the cost of an established venue in many cases. We adore stunning outdoor weddings and often plan them for our sweet brides. But, this is something I always like to address at the beginning of the planning process.
While at a potential venue, here are a few key questions to ask:
What exactly is included in the venue fee?
Are there any rentals, linens, etc. available for our use? Are there extra charges for these items?
Where will our guests park? Is this cost included in the rental fee? ( If parking is not included, this could be a major expense that needs to be factored into the budget.)
How many hours and exactly which hours will the facility be open for my vendors and I on the wedding day? (While your guests may only need a few hours at the reception site, make sure that the venue includes at least two hours for set up and an hour for breakdown for your vendors. If there are tight vendor times, extra rental delivery or staff fees may apply.)
Do you carry a preferred vendor list?
*Insider Tip: I highly recommend considering caterers that are familiar with the venue’s catering facility. A caterer that fully understands the set up and staff needed to execute an event at a specific venue will be able to provide a more realistic estimate including all needed expenses. They can also ensure there are no surprises on the wedding day, such as missing equipment. Working with a preferred caterer will minimize the amount of communication and questions you have to facilitate between the venue and caterer. If you have your heart set on a caterer that is not familiar with your venue, I highly suggest investing in a planner or day-of coordinator to facilitate logistics between the caterer and venue.
Do I have to use particular vendors or caterers at this venue?
*Insider Tip: Be sure to do your homework on any vendors you are required to use at a specific space. Their costs may put you over budget if you’re not diligent to get estimates from them and crunch the numbers before signing the dotted line with the venue.
Is there a food and beverage minimum? (Often venues will have a minimum amount of food and beverage hosts must serve to hold the event on their property. Make sure that you will meet this minimum and calculate costs of using their services. This is another way you can easily go over budget.
I hope that these tips and questions are helpful in your venue hunt! Cheers!”
Photos by Morning Light by Michelle Landreau.