Your perfect ceremony and reception location is the first thing you should book and is also a large portion of your wedding budget and wedding checklist.  It’s no wonder that it can be a daunting task and a mega source of stress. Take a breath and follow these tips when looking for your dream wedding venue:

 1.       Don’t search for too many criteria at once – Keep your venue search general and focus on one or two important factors like capacity or location.  It will be much easier to search if you keep an open mind and explore a few options.  I love booking restaurants for special events.  The space is often much more intimate, already decorated, the food and service is great and the pricing is competitive. 

2.       The rule of three – I always present choices in threes – this way there is a good selection to pick from without getting overwhelmed.  If you are not pleased with any of the three, look at another group of three venues.  If you absolutely love one of the sites, ask your site representative for a detailed proposal outlining all costs including service charges so you can confirm that the venue fits your wedding budget.

3.       The site visit – When you see a potential venue in person, keep your phone handy to take pictures so you can recall the space later.   Make sure to look at the whole venue including the restrooms, the entrance, the brides room, the outdoor lighting and even the kitchen.. If possible, make arrangements with the site representative to visit the venue when it’s set up for a wedding. As you tour the space, ask the same questions at each site visit to ensure you are comparing each properly.  Common questions include wheelchair access, parking, distance between the ceremony and reception (if you are looking for two different spaces), photo opportunities on site, food costs and catering options.  After you see your three venues, think about the pros and cons of each location and ask ‘can I picture myself getting married here?’

4.       Use your imagination -   The wedding reception is really where the wedding takes shape and where you can personalize the most through rentals, photo booths, entertainment, food selections and décor.  Make sure your location is open to receiving rentals, draping and customizing the space. You want to be sure your vision can be realized at this location

5.       Get everything in writing – If you found a space you love and it hits all (or a majority of) your criteria, make sure you ask your venue what is required to get your space confirmed and follow through on meeting those requirements. Before you sign a contract, read the fine print and make sure it includes everything you and the site contact agreed on. Document all your conversations in emails and keep your correspondence handy in case you need to reference it.