10 Tips for Reviewing Wedding Venues
How to find a wedding venue that’s a perfect match for you, your family, and your guests.
The Quest for the Perfect Wedding Venue
Our research began like yours probably will, in the form of Googling ‘LOCATION XYZ Wedding Venues’ over the course of about two weeks (we were planning a destination wedding). In that time I considered the following:
- Photos of other weddings
- Ratings on TheKnot.com, WeddingWire.com and Yelp.com
- Cost of rooms
- Number of places to eat onsite
- Number of activities onsite (boating, fishing, kayaking, drinking, etc)
- Things for families to do should our friends decide to bring their kids
Obvious Tip: Email any venues that catch your eye.
When you email the venue, think about asking the following:
- We're planning a wedding for X number of people
- We'd like to hear what you offer couples in this range, what you include and what you do not include in your packages
- Do you offer other venues onsite?
- Do you have rain or other weather backups?
1) Ask the wedding coordinators if they offer any special overnight-stay rates to couples who are checking out the location as a potential venue.
2) When you plan your ‘Visit & View’ trip, head down there at the same time of year you’d hope to get married. Consider hurricane season, rainy season, hot-and-sweaty-I-can’t-stand-this season. Make it as pleasant for you on this trip as you’d hope it to be for your guests.
3) If you’re traveling quite a distance, try to book your venue visits in geological order. We were planning a destination wedding. Our trip began in Ft. Lauderdale where we stayed overnight to enjoy breakfast on the beach. We then hopped down Route 1 to Islamorada, then to Duck Key, and finally landed in Key West for the remainder of the week. It was a lot to book, but, with The Smallest Bar in the World waiting for us at the end, it was worth all the hours spent discussing details and pricing.
4) Pay attention to your reaction as you arrive on the property and put yourself in your guests' shoes. Does it meet your expectations? Your guests' expectations?
5) Consider the work of the preferred vendors (often offered by many venues) and compare it to your sense of style and expectations. Each location had a meeting room specifically for weddings. Preferred vendor photos, flowers, table decor, and sometimes desserts defined the environment. The photography didn’t sit well with me; the same places were shot in the same light, in the same style. After our second venue visit, we talked about flying down our own photographer (Sandra Costello), because at the end of the big day, all you have are pictures to truly remember this momentous occasion. We’re a creative couple damnit. We want creative photos!
6) Sneak out and watch other weddings happening on the property. Does it meet your expectations? Your guests' expectations?
7) Stand in the place where you would exchange vows and take photos. Also, take photos all over the location to share with friends and family. Get people excited! And, get their opinion (they might be helping you pay for the big day).
8) Beyond scheduling a tasting, dine onsite at night and in the morning. Put yourself in your guests’ shoes and experience what they may encounter. How is the fine dining? The bar? The coffee? If you choose an all in one resort, they’ll want to know they have options and don’t have to go off property to get a burger (vegan or otherwise).
9) Trust your gut. We knew Venue #2 was the place for us and instead of hunting down one last option, we decided to just enjoy ourselves and have three solid days of snorkeling, kayaking, sunset sails, and togetherness before heading home.
10) When you get home, plan a night to do dinner with the family and share all the photos, information, estimates, and experiences you had on your trip. If you fell in love with a venue, sell it, and sell it from their point of view as well! What will they care about most and what do you care about most? Share your discoveries and then add it all up with a toast of champagne for your final choice. It’s a big decision that’s in need of a kiss and a clink!
Full sample Wedding Venue worksheet below!
(AKA: Sneak preview of what's inside each AstroWed Workbook)
Click the image to download a PDF version.