I apologize for our silence the last few days! We have been having an issue with our posts, but it was finally corrected this morning.
We are back and ready to go with several posts for you! Today, we wanted to add another post to our series on about finding the right vendors, so we are going to be talking about selecting a venue. Let’s pretend it’s Wedding Wednesday for a moment, shall we?
Selecting a venue is one of the most important wedding decisions you and your significant other will make. The venue sets the tone for the entire celebration and is therefore the foundation for every other decision you will make. We know just how frustrating finding the perfect venue can be, so we wanted to share a few tips with you.
1) The very first thing you should do is determine what your budget is for a venue. The average cost in our area (Southeastern, PA) is close to $14,500.00. We want to stress that there are numerous venues for less! It is just important to set a significant portion of your budget aside for a venue. Whether it’s $1,000.00 or $20,000.00, you should be setting aside about 30%-35% of your total budget for a venue.
2) Once you have your budget figured out, you and your significant other need to decide if you want to have your ceremony and reception in the same place, or if you want to utilize 2 different locations. Many couples are choosing to have their entire event at one location as it saves on costs for transportation, décor (you can use florals or elements from ceremony decoration at the reception), photography (less time spent traveling = fewer hours you need a photographer), and overall venue cost (many venues discount or give you the ceremony location and chairs for free when you book an inclusive package).
3) Next, you should determine what you want from a venue. We recommend our clients consider the following points and rank their importance:
- All-inclusive package (florals, cake, food, alcohol, linens, chairs, ceremony space, etc)
- Ability to bring in outside vendors
- Freedom to decorate
- On-site caterer
- On-site contact person
- Who handles set-up (do you want the venue to do it or would you rather you or your Wedding Planner decorate)
- Who handles tear-down (do you want the venue to do it or would you rather you or your Wedding Planner tear-down)
- Time-limit on site use
- Ability to customize package
4) Once you know your budget, how many venues you need, and what is most important to you and your significant other, it will be simple for your Wedding Planner to give you a list of venues that fit your criteria. If you do not have a Wedding Planner, you can use sites like The Knot, Weddingbee, and Wedding Wire to help you narrow down your search.
5) If you are going to have two different venues, we recommend you plot your various options on a map to help you determine the logistics of choosing a certain venue. You want to consider proximity to the ceremony location, the time of day (think traffic), cost of the venue vs. additional cost (for example- it may be better to pick the venue that costs $6,500.00 instead of the of $5,000.00 venue if you will have to spend an extra $2,500.00 on transportation to shuttle guests and the Bridal Party around), and proximity to the hotel (if you won’t be providing transportation to the hotel, you will want to consider guests’ ability to get back safely).
6) Do a lot of online research! Read reviews, extensively review their websites, and look for albums from photographers who have photographed weddings there.
7) We recommend only contacting 5 potential venues via e-mail to start with. If you contact too many venues, it may get too overwhelming and potentially make your decision difficult. Ask the venues to provide details about what their packages include and the items you ranked as most important to you (bringing in outside vendors, onsite catering, set-up/tear-down, etc).
8) Keep an eye on how quickly the venue responds, how willing they are to give you information, and if you get an automated response or an actual e-mail from an employee. While there is nothing wrong with an automated response, you may be looking for one-on-one interaction and how a venue handles the initial contact is typically a good indicator as to how helpful they will be during the planning process. Also, it is our experience that a venue that is unwilling to give you any information via e-mail before you come take a tour either is going to be very expensive or has a lot of restrictions on events they allow. While neither one of these things may pose an issue for your wedding, it is something to keep in mind.
9) Select three venues to set up tours with. If possible, try to set up a tour the morning of another wedding, so you can see the venue in action. A lot of times it can be difficult to imagine the full-potential of a space when it is empty. Take note of how receptive they are to you and how many questions they ask you. Venues that are committed to their clients will want to get to know them and their wedding well. Also, take a list of important questions with you so you don’t forget anything and don’t be afraid to ask tough questions! If they won’t give you specific answers to your questions, don’t be afraid to push for answers. After all, this is your wedding and you need to have all of the facts to make the best decision. Make sure you get anything additional they offer, like free ceremony space and chair rental or an additional hour of reception time at no additional cost, in writing! We have had clients who have had venues make promises, but never written it down, and then not follow through.
10) Once you have toured the venues and gotten all of their package information, you Wedding Planner can help you narrow down your options even further. Don’t forget, Wedding Planners may also be able to negotiate add-ons at no additional cost or discounts, so it is absolutely worth having a Wedding Planner! Once you have made your decision, be sure you sign a detailed contract as soon as possible so you don’t lose the date.
We want close out this post with 3 of our favorite all-inclusive venues in the area:
1) The Downingtown Country Club in beautiful Chester County- Their packages include; food, alcohol, ceremony site options, cocktail hour site options, reception, linens, cake, centerpieces, discount and transportation with a nearby hotel, and amazing service. Victoria Lee can personally attest to the fantastic experience you receive at DCC as she and her husband were married there. They have packages to accommodate all budgets and are willing to work with you throughout the entire process to ensure a perfect day. Check out their website here: Downingtown Country Club
Photo From: Personal Photo
2) In Delaware County, we love The Old Mill in Rose Valley at Ridley Creek State Park. They have numerous options, with 3 unique outdoor ceremony locations, a gorgeous ballroom, and tented courtyards, this venue can be customized to fit any theme or wish. They also work with award-winning Conner Catering for food, so you know you will not be disappointed. Check out The Old Mill here: The Old Mill and Conner Catering here: Conner Catering.
Photo From: Main Line Events
3) In Philadelphia, there is nothing quiet as unique as The TRUST Venue. Located on Arch Street, this venue offers unique, elegant, breathtaking, and classic all in one place. They have so many options that you can truly turn this venue into anything you can dream of. We highly recommend you check out The TRUST Venue if you are planning a wedding in Philadelphia at: The TRUST Venue
Photo From: TRUST Twitter
Need some help finding your dream venue? Contact us today for a complimentary consultation!