Photography:   Lissa Ryan Photography       Venue:   Dupont Circle Hotel

Photography: Lissa Ryan Photography   Venue: Dupont Circle Hotel

Looking for a venue is often one of the first things a newly engaged couple dives into. At the same time, it's one of the biggest decisions you'll make in the planning process.

When you start looking for that perfect venue, I encourage you to follow these 5 professional wedding planning tips + tricks.

Tip + Trick # 1: Make a short list of venues:

Before ever beginning to tour venues, we encourage you to make a short list of venues that fit your following wedding day criteria:

·      Fits in your budget

·      Fits your guest list count

·      Available for your desired date (Tip: It's always "easier" to find a venue when you have a date range instead of set date!)

Last thing you want to do is start touring venues, fall in love with one only to realize it is out of budget and won’t fit all your family + friends!

Tip + Trick # 2: The Venue Visit     

Once you’ve formulated your venue list and everything matches your wedding day criteria – take that list and begin visiting.

You can save time by…

·      Making an appointment with each possible venue on the same day

·      Bring all your decision makers

·      Have a list of pertinent questions (see below!)

That way there will be no need for multiple visits to fill in everyone and you will be able to compare and contrast each venue with you decision makers. One day of focused productivity will really streamline the planning process and help you stay organized!

Tip + Trick # 3: Ask the Questions

While visiting the venues, you want to make sure to ask very pertinent questions! Before making your decision you will need to ensure everything remains in the budget. The following are some of our top questions to ask each venue:

·      Is there guest parking available?

·      Are there rentals (tables, chairs, linens, etc.) included or available?

·      Are there any required/preferred vendors?

·      Total rental time or set rental hours?

·      Earliest vendors can arrive/latest they can stay?

·      Do vendors have enough time for set-up & clean-up?

We recommend at least 2 - 3 hours for set-up, depending on your design, and 1.5 hours for clean-up (especially catering). You will want to know all associated venue costs upfront, before you are surprised later!

Tip + Trick # 4: Understand Total Costs of Venues

After visiting and asking each venue questions, you may find out that some venues have required vendors or they may provide a list of preferred vendors. So, in order to stay on budget, you will want to….

·      Contact the Required/ Preferred Vendor List to inquire about their pricing to make sure it fits in budget and preferred style, taste and aesthetic.

·      Look into additional rentals and costs that you will need to get quotes for such as linen, tables, chairs, power, tenting, parking passes, valet service,  etc.

This will ensure your dream venue really is a reality and that you are very confident before you sign that dotted line.

Tip + Trick # 5: The Look

A lot of newlyweds have a venue look in their head and believe that any space can be transformed with enough décor, florals, drapes, etc. While you can transform a venue, it often times can put you over budget quickly. When visiting each venue, we really encourage engaged couples to ask themselves these questions, when evaluating the “look” of a venue…

·      Is this venue us?!

·      Is this venue beautiful + stunning the day we visit?

·      If we got married here tomorrow, would we be happy?

Tip + Trick # 6: The Contract: Professional Set of Eyes

So you’ve found your “perfect” venue and you are about to sign that dotted line with your sweetheart – but wait!
Contracts are a HUGE deal! They are legally binding and directly affect your whole planning process as well as your wedding day! We highly suggest to reach out to a professional, experienced wedding planner to double check that venue contract, assess your total venue costs, and let you know of anything you may have missed or looked over! Weddings are an investment, you don’t want to waste all this time, energy, etc. to only realize on your wedding day catering doesn’t have enough time to set-up before the reception or you only can dance for 1 hour because the venue has a noise ordinance beginning at 9 p.m!

Long story short…

Each venue is unique

Every couple is special

All weddings are different

Wedding Planners are experienced professionals for a reason

Seek out a professional (even if it is just for your venue/venue contract) because they are experienced, can save you tons of time + headache during the planning process and have seen +100’s of venues, venue contracts, and weddings!

If you are already a SPE couple, the great news is that you're in good hands! We will ask all the right questions, setting you up for a fun venue search that is stress-free and helping you avoid the pitfalls of signing before you get the entire picture!!

We really hope these Tips + Tricks help you ease the stress of finding the wedding venue of you dream!

xo,Sarah

Don’t know where to start? Need help finding that perfect venue? Want another set of eyes on the venue contract?

Still need more professional wedding planning tips?! 

Follow along with our #ThursdaysTogether on our Facebook, where we share our top tips with you live!! 

In case you missed it, here's our venue edition! 

"Talking about venues & logistics today after a walkthrough at Long View Gallery!"