Road to I Do Series: Finding Our Venue

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 Road To I Do Series: 

II. Finding Our Venue - Helpful Things to Know and Questions to Ask When Searching for a Wedding Venue on a Budget 

If you read my prior blog post of this series, "How It All Started," then you know all about our engagement. So a couple weeks after we got back from our Arizona road trip, we enjoyed a small brunch party outside at place called Brunch with our families to celebrate (we didn't do a big engagement party because of Covid, but to be honest it was very nice and intimate; we actually preferred it since we knew there would be plenty of partying leading up to, and of course on, the big day). It was after this, that we decided it was time to get to business -  the first step of our planning was to discuss a WEDDING VENUE!

We viewed only 3 venues total and the 3rd one was the charm. Our biggest goal was getting the most for our money. We didn't need a $60,000 castle, but instead a nice sized space with good food, drinks, and a nice overall look that would allow us to have fun with our guests. 
We ended up selecting Celebrations Wedding Venue in Bensalem, PA and we selected the venue that we did ultimately because it had the most to offer for the best price. It was local to the majority of our guests, we thoroughly enjoyed the food at our tasting (which we were able to do before booking,) we liked the overall look and elegant vibe inside, and we loved that the little things - like our cake, centerpieces, ice luge, signature drink choice ie. - were all included in the price per person.  Maybe you were curious to know how/why we landed on the venue we did, or maybe you're reading because you want some tips before you start to look for yourself.  Either way I've rounded up some things I learned and some great advice below that can help any couple in search of their perfect wedding spot. 

Questions & topics worth discussing and answering as a couple before you go to tour venues:

- Decide on a General Location: Do you want it to be in one of your hometowns or local? Are you looking to do a destination wedding? Does location not really matter to you? For us, we decided we wanted to stay somewhat local to where we lived in the Greater Philadelphia area so that immediately helped narrow our search down. 

- Have an Idea of Your Guest Count/Your Guests: Do you have an idea of your minimum and maximum? We didn't have our guest list totally planned out yet before going to look at venues, but it's important to know the range that you'd invite to make sure the venue you're looking at can hold that amount and contrarily to make sure that the the venue will hold your minimum count. 

Additionally, do you plan to have any elderly/disabled guests? With us opting for a local wedding, we wanted to make sure some of our older family members were there so we wanted a place that didn't have a lot of steps (or if it did, had an elevator option), had restrooms in close proximity to where we'd be, places to sit, etc.

- Determine your theme if you want one: Is there a specific theme you'd like or wouldn't like - rustic, modern, classical, beach, ie? Make sure to discuss in advance because that will also help eliminate places from your search. 

- Discuss a Budget and stick to it: We came up with a price that we did not want to exceed per person, which meant browsing through certain venues online and knowing immediately that they weren't going to work. At first it was defeating because the majority of venues I would look at were far more than what we thought should be paid for one night, but we continued to look. For some couples, the venue might be most important. I can definitely say now since having our wedding that most people are not going to talk about or remember the place as much as they're going to remember the time they had. That is why people are there - to witness love and enjoy themselves (if they're there for another reason, they probably shouldn't be there). 

If you're ballin' on a budget, here are some additional questions to remember to ask the venues you tour:

* Do they offer discounts on some days of the week? We chose Friday because it was a lower cost per person than Saturday. We also loved the idea that you still have Sunday to recover lol. If you are open to days outside of Saturday, many venues offer discounted rates on certain days of the week.

* When is their off-season and do they offer discounts during those months? We were willing to go with an off-season month if it meant saving a couple bucks. The off season was Jan-March so we chose a Friday in March, 3/11. It actually ended up having a cool meaning to us because we got engaged 11/3 and both are my favorite numbers (gotta love a unintentional coincidence).  We knew the weather could go either way in March so we opted to have our ceremony and reception inside (fortunately we ended up with a sunny day in mid-60's, so our pictures got to be outside!). I highly recommend asking a venue if they have an off-season and trying to get a lower cost if you're not tied to a specific month or season.

*Is there anything else you can do to get a bit of a lower rate per person? I've had practice with negotiating when it comes to social media brand deals and I learned that it is similar in the wedding industry... shhh! Explain that you really want to hold your wedding there, but that you have a certain budget and see if the venue is willing to make a couple tweaks for you; even if they lower the cost per person for one of your entrée options - it's better than nothing! Just because a certain price is listed on paper does not always mean that it can't be adjusted and you won't know if you don't ask ;)

Wait, that's not it!  Lastly, I've also complied a list of all the questions I could think of that are  important to have with you when looking at venues. There are so many things that you don't always think about, for example:  does the venue do tastings and if so how many people can join? is coat check available if it's during a colder month? Is a wedding cake included in the price? If so, will there be a cake tasting? How do vegetarian/vegan options work upon request? etc. The list is pretty extensive, but you can print copies and highlight the ones that are applicable to you and the venues you're looking at. Having a sheet with us was so helpful so we knew exactly what to ask and  I'd love to be able to pay it forward and help others! 

*Click here for access to view/download my: List of Questions to Have With You When Checking out Wedding Venues.

I hope you enjoyed & got some useful information in regards to venue searching. In my next post in my Road to I Do series, I'm sharing all the details and links from our bridesmaid & groomsmen proposals. Make sure to check it out!

- Kait xo

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