5 Tips For Booking Your Wedding Venue

Welcome to the first blog post of 2019!

Originally I had intended today’s post to be something completely different but after being bombarded with questions about wedding topics, I thought I’d start the new year with a wedding post! I think you’re going to like this one.

One of the biggest, most daunting, most fun tasks when planning a wedding is finding the right venue. When Edwin and I first started looking at venues I started to get so easily overwhelmed with costs and logistics and pretty soon I just gave up looking for a while. It wasn’t until one of my coworkers who’d recently got married explained it to me like this: “Searching for a wedding venue is like looking at model homes with the possibility of actually buying one.” I can’t tell you why this phrase completely changed my outlook on searching for venues. 

Yes, it can be very stressful looking for the perfect venue but it’s honestly such a fun process that you and your partner should enjoy! To help you and your partner, I’ll be sharing my top 5 tips on looking for wedding venues.

Location Location Location 

The logistics of planning a wedding can be hellish. Finding a venue that’s in the perfect location, that can accommodate everyone, that meets all your requirements… I mean hell that’s like finding the lost city of Atlantis. So while it might be hard it’s not entirely impossible. 

Even thought I’m from Florida and Edwin is from California and plan on moving to Chicago, we both knew we didn’t want the wedding to be anywhere else but California. One of the factors that came into play when choosing where we wanted to have our wedding was our guest list. The majority of the guest list is Edwin’s family and they’re mostly here in California. Aside from the fact that California has the best views, the best weather, and the best choice out of all our options, it was the easiest logistically. My side of the guest list was willing to travel wherever I got married so they had no problem coming here. 

Look With An Open Mind

When we first started compiling the list of venues we had a pretty solid idea of where we wanted to look. First was Santa Barbara/ Malibu area (pre-fires, unfortunately), then was San Diego, and finally Temecula. One of the biggest pieces of advice I can offer you for the entire wedding planning process is look with an open mind. That applies to everything - decorations, venues, the dress, etc.

Originally, we were so dead set that Malibu and Santa Barbara was going to be everything we wanted but upon visiting the Temecula venues (which we were sure were going to be a wash) we found our top contender. Now, every time we visit a venue we compare it to that one! Sometimes the best things come out of left field. So, be willing to look everywhere because you never know when you’ll find something perfect. 

Get Organized

Since Edwin and I are planning the entire wedding ourselves he bought me a wedding planner to keep me organized. The planner that I have is from Kate Spade and it’s this one right here. I love it! If you really want to go all out, maybe even try designing your own planner. However, I love this one because I can keep it on my bookshelf forever as a keepsake.

As mentioned in my previous post, Edwin and I are extremely organized when it comes to the wedding. We have google docs and spreadsheets for our guest lists, wedding venues and budget as well as a joint calendar so he can keep up with my schedule and when I book venue viewings. If you and your partner are going to plan the whole thing yourselves (which I highly suggest you do because it’s just so much fun) it’s important to stay organized. 

My Wedding planner binder came with some really useful worksheets and timelines such as checklists for things to complete 8 months, 4 months, 2 months, 1 month, and one week prior to the wedding. It includes its own budget, a guest list you can fill out and make photocopies of in case you need to add more attendees, seating chart - the resources are pretty endless! In addition I love adding hole punches to venue brochures of places we really like so that we can easily keep and compare the information. I think my favorite thing I’ve done is create my venue worksheet, in which I compiled my own list of questions like how much the deposit is, when the final payment is due, do they allow outside catering, and so on.

Download my worksheet here!

However you choose to do it, staying organized is incredibly important. Not only that, but every time I go to view a venue and I show up with my binder and ask questions and write down notes on my work sheets everyone is constantly impressed. Remember, as much as you are viewing the venues the staff and the venue are viewing you. Present yourself in a respectable and appropriate manner and I’m sure the staff will do everything they can to give you the wedding of your dreams. 

Decide on Deal Breakers 

I don’t suggest doing this step until seeing at least 3-4 venues in various locals. Like I said, it’s important to go into everything with an open mind but you do have to know what you’re willing to compromise on and what you really want to keep. Sometimes you don’t even know you want something until a place offers it. For example I didn’t really care about having a bridal suite until I saw one and thought “this is going to be a great place for me and my girls to get ready, laugh together, and bond.” And I thought I really wanted a bridal suite - and I still kind of do. What I mean by that is I definitely want a separate space for me and my girls to spend that time together - wether that’s a bridal suite or an Air BnB closeby. 

Maybe your deal breaker is that you want an outside caterer or and outside bartender. Maybe you want a place that doesn’t have noise ordinances or that lets you stay at the venue till 2 a.m. Like I said, a lot of these things you won’t know you want or don’t want until you see multiple venues. Keeping an open mind and seeing lots of options is going to help give you options whereas going in with blinders is really going to limit you. 

Little story time here: So Edwin and I went to go check out a venue in LA that we were so sure was going to be the one to top. It was trendy, it had an outside area for the ceremony, it was super affordable, and it had character. Upon arriving to this location’s neighborhood we quickly discovered we were in the ghetto. “Ok,” we thought, “that’s okay! If it’s beautiful and it’s everything we want then that’s okay!” 

NOPE! Man, were we disappointed. It was on the side of a major street where cars were constantly honking, in a 15 minute time span 3 helicopters had flown overhead in the outside area (which was incredibly tiny), the garden we had seen in the photos was a small walkway, the inside area would not allow you to cook food, there was no parking… I mean it was just a solid no from the second we got in and the more we asked questions, the less appealing it got. So, I decided to rule out LA all together because in reality it just wasn’t our style. Traffic was going to be a bitch, there wouldn’t be any parking, and any of the little cute, trendy places we’d find were going to be exactly like that. And that’s not what we wanted. 

Thank u, next. 

Enjoy The Process

Lastly - ENJOY THE DAMN PROCESS! I know I’ve said it a million times in this post but honestly, just have fun. Planning a wedding with your significant other is a great bonding experiences, forces you to practice communication and provides other great life skills. Always keep your guests in mind but remember: It’s your day. If you want a donut wall then get a donut wall. If you want tacos for your reception then get tacos! If you want a ridiculously grand entrance then have it! You’re planning for the happiest day of your lives and there’s plenty to be happy about. Try not to stress about money but try to stay in your budget. But just remember that you need to create a day that’s going to make you happy.

If any other future brides have any tips or tricks please feel free to leave them down below! I’m so excited to continue this wedding series and can’t wait until my big day. 

See you guys in the next one,

Love Always, 

The Honest Pisces