Five Big Mistakes Couples Make When Choosing a Wedding Venue
By Lindsey Sachs
Choosing your wedding venue is one of the first important decisions you'll make in your wedding planning journey. Maybe you've had your eye on a particular venue and after touring, you have those butterflies in your stomach and just know it's "the one!"
Beyond having that gut feeling, many venues are in high demand with limited dates available. This puts added pressure on making your decision quickly. By doing so, it's easy to miss some important considerations that are likely to have a financial or logistical impact on your big day.
Before signing on the dotted line and confirming your venue contract, read our collaboration with Martha Stewart Weddings "Five Big Mistakes Couples Make When Choosing a Wedding Venue" by Jenn Sinrich.
Many couples fall in love with the aesthetic and cache of a certain wedding venue before seeing the price tag and understanding all costs. To consider the true cost of a venue, you’ll need to understand not only the top line venue rental fee, but also the food and beverage minimum (if catering is managed in house), service fees, taxes, and gratuity. When all costs are added together, the investment can quickly exceed budget forcing you to overspend. Ask the venue manager for a detailed cost estimate based on your guest count, desired meal type (plated, buffet, stations, etc.) alcohol, and all fees. This estimate will provide you with a helpful reference point to compare against your budget.
2. Assuming Venue Inclusions
Because you’re likely to tour many venues, it’s easy to make assumptions about what is/isn’t included in the venue rental fee. Some venues include tables, chairs, basic linens, plates and serving ware, whereas some do not. It is important to review the list of all inclusions to identify what items are left for you to cover on your own, thus an added expense that can easily pop up as a surprise late in the planning. During your venue tour, ask to see each of the items included, or ask for closeup photos if you’re unable to visit the venue in person. Couples often opt for different color tablecloths, napkins or chairs because the venue’s in-house options don’t match their wedding vision. It’s best to identify these items before signing your contract so that you can properly budget to cover the cost of items that the venue doesn’t provide/or you dislike.
3. DIY - More Than You Bargained For
The popularity of wedding venues that offer couples a blank canvas to bring their vision to life continues to climb. Many couples seek a barn our outdoor wedding venue, however, have a hard time understanding the added logistics required to dress up the venue. Often, the logistics of a rustic venue are far greater than anticipated and cause couples and their family and friends great stress in the precious weeks before the wedding. To avoid day-of stress with setup, visit the venue as many times as needed prior to the wedding to run through your setup plan and transporting and unloading of your personal items to determine what is truly realistic.
4. Neglecting to Consider Nearby Accommodations
Prior to signing on the dotted line, couples neglect to consider accessibility and availability of nearby guest accommodations. For any guests traveling from out of state or out of town, couples can increase the likeliness of a “yes” RSVP from those guests if their accommodations are taken into consideration. Consider how you can make it easy for them to plan their travel and attend. Many venues are incredible, yet may be off the beaten path. For couples expecting many out of town guests, consider nearby accommodations before committing to your venue.
5. No Weather Back Up Plan
No one likes to think about rain on your wedding day, but having a weather backup plan is essential. Couples either neglect to think about a backup plan, while some ignore the possibility even exists because they’re so enamored with the venue. For outdoor venues, whether it be for the ceremony, cocktail hour, and/or the reception, speak with the venue manager about their backup options to ensure you’re comfortable with their plan B in the event it needs to be activated.