When couples (OK, let's be honest, the bride and her Mom!) Start looking for marriage venues they may fall in love with the beauty of the venue while they've viewed it and sign on the dotted line before they've considered the many practical things that come with planning a marriage. It makes sense, after all we are emotional people and who wants to tell their beasties the story that starts with, "Well … the venue was practical and that's why I booked it!"
But without the venue is absolutely can't-live-without-it-most-perfect-place-in-the-world that you're willing to plan your whole event around it, you should not decide on a marriage venue until you've decided the following: 1) approximately how many guests you're inviting, 2) the size of your budget, and 3) if you are holding your ceremony and reception in the same place.
As you view different venues do a walk through each one you are considering for your marriage. It's a great idea to bring a camera to document specific things you think make one site better than another. Also, carry a notebook and pen with you to make any notes or remember any questions you might have. Remember to check out the website for the venue too, they often have photos of what the venue looks like decorated which can help you visualize what the layout for your event might be. Finally, it's always a not bad idea to ask the venue if they have an event coming up where you might be able to come in and see the venue when it is set up. If this is a feasible option it's by far the best way to view a potential site!
Once you have determined these things, and you have a few marriage venues in mind that fit your criteria then the fun really begins! It's time to narrow it down and here's a list of important questions to consider!
1. What's the decor like? Think about flooring, wall colors, lighting and layout of the space. Does it fit your style and theme? Will you have to spend an excessive amount of money on flowers, fabric, and decorations to make it beautiful?
2. Does the venue have seasonal options such as an outdoor garden in the Summer, or a fire place in the Winter?
3. Do they have an in-house caterer, and do you like that food? Does the venue provide the options you are looking for in terms of buffet, sit down, and / or cocktail style? Is the pricing reasonable? Does the catering package include aspects such as linens, chargers, and gratuity? If they do not have an outside caterer, does the venue have a limit on which outside caterers you can use?
4. Do they have adequate coat check and bathroom facilities? Do they have a bathroom for people with disabilities? Do they have a 'bride' room?
5. Is the venue wheelchair accessible? If not, are there many stairs to climb?
6. Is there enough parking for all the guests? How close is the parking to the ceremony and reception rooms?
7. What is the cancellation policy?
8. What kind of deposit (s) are required? Can you spread the payments out over time, and / or is there a payment schedule?
9. Are there any hidden costs? Always remember to read the contract thoroughly and have another person also review it to make sure you understand what is written and are familiar with the conditions.
10. Does the venue allow access the evening before your event? This can be helpful if you want to be able to decorate early.
11. Does the venue allow you to bring in your own alcohol (including table wine)? So they charge a corkage fee? Do they have adequate bar facilities? Do they have a liquor license, and if not, are you responsible to provide one?
12. Is there room in the marriage venue for a DJ, band and / or dancing?
13. Does the venue recommend any vendors? Sometimes chapters work closely with marriage professionals and can recommend their services. This is important to note as often these vendors will offer a discount or special bonus for booking through the venue.
In the end, remember that whatever venue you choose should reflect the personality of you and your partner and the relationship you have together. Although the process can seem overwhelming, trust your instincts and remember to HAVE FUN!