Bridey, one of the most difficult parts of planning your wedding is choosing the right venue. I mean, there are so many factors to consider, and people to please that what used to be a fun experience has turned into more of a daunting task. Sorry, but true story! So, rather than let it get the best of you (and quickly), get your shit together before you start your journey so that you don't end up wasting a ton of your time, and that of those trying to help you. How? Well, let me help you get started before you lose your mind!
First of all, bridey, do your homework. I know that it's super exciting to start the process of searching for the right venue, but before you can even begin researching potential venue sites, you and your sig other need to sit down and determine a few important factors. Do your homework! Because, now is not the time to be impulsive. Outside of the down payment for your house, this is going to be the next biggest expense of your life. So, don't fuck it up by being impulsive and reckless. Determine your budget (give or take). Determine an approximate number of guests so that you know which venues will work, and which ones won't. Determine reasonable accommodations and concessions for your guests... etc. etc. etc.
1. Budget: I know that this is difficult, but bridey, it's the most important factor when choosing your venue. At the very least, try to figure out what you have to spend overall (wedding venue, wedding dress, flowers, transportation, etc.), and what you have to spend on your venue (where you'll spend approximately 50-60 percent of your total budget). Have a "worst case scenario," and a "best case scenario" mapped out, and be honest. Better to overshoot than undershoot when it comes to your budget.
2. Number of Guests: While there is no way to know the exact number of guests this early in the game, at the very least try to figure out an approximate number. Why? Well, if you begin visiting sites without knowing how many people you're going to have at your wedding, then you are setting yourself up for disappointment. You'll fall in love with a place that will either be too cavernous or too small, and ultimately, you will need to start your search over. Why put yourself through that, bridey? So, chat with your sig other, poll your parents, and set some boundaries (based on budget)... Then go look!
3. Aesthetic + Reality: Really pretty basic, no? Are you an ocean side bride or a hotel bride? Are you a rustic bride or modern bride? What do you see when you daydream? Narrow it down. Start where you think you will end. Got something brewing? Great! Well, now compare what you know about your aesthetic against your budget (aka, reality). For example, I know I like modern furniture, but I also know that it tends to cost a shitload more than "normal" furniture. Ohhhhh... yeah...
Okay, it's your turn, bridey. Want an outdoor wedding at a your parent's house? Sounds lovely! But, stop and think for a sec... Think about renting every.single.item. from forks to bathrooms to power generators (for the DJ, caterer, lighting, etc.)... Yup! Your guests will need to pee, and 3-4 bathrooms for 150 guests just won't cut it. The DJ will most certainly need power to rock the night away, right? See where I'm going, bridey? Perhaps you will need to curb your aesthetic to match your budget...
4. A DIY Bride or Not a DIY Bride? That is the Question!: I am not a DIY girl. I would much rather hire people who know what they're doing than waste my time trying. Sad, but true. How this pertains to you, bridey? Well, if you decide on a venue that lacks the aesthetic you were going for, then get ready to roll up your sleeves. And, I'm not just talking about making cute centerpieces. I am talking about schelping in tables, chairs, linen, etc. etc. etc., and obviously you're not going to do it on your wedding day, so therefore you need to determine who is, and then pay them to do so. This scenario has the potential to be BRUTAL and costly. Not your thing? Well, then perhaps a full service venue is looking like the better choice, no?
5. Concessions & Accommodations: I know your wedding day is about you and your sig other, but please consider your guests. It doesn't have to be ALL about your guests, but do consider their needs and then do your best to accommodate them. For instance, if you're having an outdoor ceremony on a hot summer day, then provide cold drinks and fans. Bringing your guests to the middle of nowhere USA for the weekend? That's cool, just know that you'll have to accommodate their needs for the entire weekend, not just the day of your wedding. We're talking the rehearsal dinner, wedding day and brunch the next morning. And, these concessions and accommodations? Well, they will definitely dig into your budget, so plan accordingly.
Bridey, as you start your wedding planning journey, take these suggestions and run with them. Remember, for most of you, finding your sig other took time and several "mistakes" before you found "the one." Finding your venue is no different, except this time, you're going into it with your eyes wide open. Got it?! Good!