Starting the wedding venue search can be daunting to say the least. From the wedding industry and social media perspectives, it’s supposed to be this bliss filled process where you step foot at a venue, and you have this perfect feeling and just know this is where you will get married. Now that would be all fine and dandy if we were all so lucky to have an intuition level like that. The words we hear from many couples about their venue search include the following: terrifying, frustrating, confusing, and overwhelming.
Other comments about the wedding venue search have gone like this:
“My budget is thrown out the window and I don’t know how to change my expectations.”
“I am so overwhelmed. I have no idea how to sort through all the options.”
“I’m at a loss of what to even ask and what I need to know.”
Don’t take us the wrong way here, we love the couples that come in and are ready to sign the same day with us. There are also many couples that have a ton of fun sorting all this information and picking their venue. However, this post is for the couples that might be juggling a little too much and then threw wedding planning on like the cherry on top. This is also for those that just got engaged and really have no idea where to start.
So where do you start? There’s no order in how to go about these points, but each one can help you cut your list down significantly. This will allow you to book tours with venues that are actually what you are looking for rather than looking at every single place in Buffalo, which is about 110 wedding venues, in case you were wondering.
- Wedding Size
Let’s start with a somewhat easy one! Before you even start looking at venues, make a guest list. Make three lists, actually. The first list is going to name every person you and your partner know and might invite. Don’t overthink this, write them all down. The second list is where you will start to cut that list down to the people that are currently in your life and that you want to celebrate with. The last list is the hardest. This list you are going to cut out as much as you can. Take out the friend of friends you haven’t seen in years. Take out the “Well I invited Aunt so and so, so I have to invite this cousin and that uncle” (FYI, you don’t have to invite them). This is going to give you a realistic idea of how big or small your wedding will be.
Come up with the maximum number of guests you could go with for your wedding. Start making a list of venues that can accommodate your party comfortably. If you have a smaller wedding party, then maybe you want a smaller venue, so it does not feel so big with a bunch of empty space. If your party is around 120 – 150, this is the most common size for a wedding venue to accommodate. Up to 200 guests *cough* *us* will help you narrow down again as a lot of venues cap around 175 – 200. The next cut off is over 200. This is going to be the large venues, open spaces, banquet halls, etc.
Okay next one…
- Your Style as a Couple
Keeping this one short is almost harder than cutting down your guest list. Pinterest is your friend. Google is your friend. Instagram is your friend. Have a date night and surf the web inside and out and come up with the style that fits you two and tells your love story.
What color tones do you like? What decorations do you like? Do you like tablecloths or bare tables? What kind of food do you want? What about your entrance? What do you want the table decorations to look like? Do you want a buffet or sit-down meal? ASK ALL THE QUESTIONS! Picture your day.
On the flip side. Search and figure out what you DON’T want. Knowing what you don’t want helps you narrow down your search just as much as knowing what you do want.
And now that the biggest part is done…
….it’s now time for my favorite thing, so break out the pen and paper and let’s make a list. There are going to be three sections to your list: Must Have, Not Sure, No Thanks. Make this list and print it out. Take that list with you to every venue visit. This will help you to stay on track with your vision and allow you to refer to something that you made with a clear head without a million options and pieces of information being thrown at you. After each venue visit, we highly suggest recreating this list. Basically, pro/ con each venue right after so when you look back at all the options later, you have all the information ready to go and you don’t have to rack your brain to remember what was said.
- Ceremony & Reception
This is generally the easiest decision on the list for couples, but it might not be. This can help you narrow down your venue search, as some venues only offer reception services and not the ceremony. So, ask yourself if you want everything in one place, or if you really want to be married at *insert picture perfect place* then party at *insert awesome reception venue: aka Poplar Hill Estate*. Most venues can accommodate both the ceremony and the reception *cough* *us again*, but there are a few that don’t. While this won’t cut your venue list in half, it will help a little bit.
Now this is going to cut your venue list in half, if not smaller. Here are your three main questions. Do you want to have everything included (food, venue, bar, etc.)? Do you want to select your vendors from a short list provided by your venue? Do you want to bring your own vendors?
This may not be a make-or-break point for you, and you might have to see some spaces before deciding how important this point is to you as a couple. However, we have seen a large number of couples that know that they want a specific vendor for food and that is their deal breaker. Some venues will allow you to bring in outside vendors for an extra fee (this covers the cost for them to hunt down paperwork), so be sure to ask if this is important to you.
For us at Poplar Hill, yes there is a paperwork hunt, but we do not charge *extra* for that. We have structured our pricing to allow you to bring in your own vendors and quite literally build your wedding day. Of course, we have suggestions, but in the end no two weddings have been anywhere close to the same. And that is why we LOVE our venue.
Finding the perfect wedding venue is not easy for everyone. You have heard us say this before and we will say it again. Picking your venue is just as much an emotional decision as it is a financial decision. We hope that these few points can help you to get the wheels turning and truly thinking about what YOU want for YOUR wedding day and what showcases YOU as a couple. In case you aren’t quite getting the point yet, it is YOUR BIG DAY!