Wedding Venue Shopping Tips
You know your budget, have a well-defined idea of your dream venue and know your capacity requirements. It’s time to venue shop! Be sure to keep the following points in mind:
- Space and Layout: It’s critical to know the venue’s guest capacity, but also plan for sound equipment, entertainment, a dancing area, furniture, and serving staff space–on top of your guests and wedding party. Everyone will need some breathing and maneuvering room. Envision areas where specific functions occur such as the ceremony, a reception line, dining and beverage areas, and dancing.
Note: Venues with many fixed structures may not be easily adapted to your desired setup.
- Lighting: Lighting is a mood setter, so as an expert tip, try to visit each venue at the time of day you’ve chosen for your wedding or reception. Notice the effects of natural and artificial lighting, whether the venue will be too bright or dim, and consider the additional lighting you may require.
- Colour: If the venue’s carpeting, furnishings, or wall paint is not complementary to your wedding colour scheme it may not look visually appealing.
- Consider All Venue Options: Don’t rule out an empty, unadorned venue before you envision carefully placed area rugs, attractive furnishings, and decorations to give it style and comfort.
- Parking: Your venue should offer ample, convenient, and safe parking–or be nearby to such accommodations. If accessible parking doesn’t exist, consider budgeting for a shuttle service for your guests to and from the site. If a venue’s parking logistics become too costly or complex, that venue may not work for you.
Note: Make sure to let out-of-town guests know how different parking options work in the downtown area if your wedding is nearby. For example, some parkades offer one-hour free parking and on-street parking is free after certain hours on specific days.
Booking Your Wedding Venue
Here are some final points to consider as you prepare to book your venue.
- Focus on Your Priorities: Don’t lose sight of your priorities by getting sidetracked with stunning settings and “we can do everything for you” promises.
- Be Open-Minded: Don’t rule out a venue because of poor-quality online pictures. Visit the venue, and discuss what services, amenities, and pricing options are available.
- Deposit: Ask what deposit amount will be required and be prepared to pay that deposit should you decide to book the venue at the end of your visit.
- Word-of–Mouth Matters: The venue highly recommended by a trusted friend carries weight; be sure to mention that your friend (by name) recommended the venue. You may receive special pricing or services in appreciation of the referral. Take advantage of your connections in Victoria.
- Backup Plan: You are responsible for your guests’ comfort and safety. Ask your venue representative about contingency options if the weather turns unseasonable and what additional charges might be involved. Victoria is known to starting raining at a moment’s notice.
- Get it in Writing: Your venue contract should spell out everything that you agree to, any negotiated pricing concessions, and pricing for all extras (and contingency plan).
- Vendor Restrictions: Many venues have lists of preferred musicians/DJs, florists, photographers, etc. These are service providers who have worked with the venue and are known and trusted groups and individuals. Ask what restrictions on outside vendors apply.
- The Extras: Your venue representative should provide a total per-person cost, plus service charges and any applicable tax. Ask what extra costs are involved for such services as using outside vendors, cake-cutting, corkage, cake-cutting, parking services, overtime fees, etc.
- Don’t Wait: Timing is everything when booking your wedding venue. Don’t wait until the last minute to start your search or to commit to a venue you like. Booking early can lock in better pricing and secure the date and time you desire. (NOTE: Some venues don’t allow any date change after you’ve signed the contract.)
Venue shopping takes a lot of preparation, thought, and time. Don’t rush through this stage.
Related Read: 4 Jaw-Dropping Wedding Venues in Victoria, BC