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Wedding Venue Search-Advice No One Tells You

Updated: May 24, 2023

As a wedding planner, I think the wedding venue search is quite possibly the most fun. There are so many options for a couple's wedding day! Here are some things to pay attention to:

  1. While researching venues, I would ask myself. What type of venue is this? Do they have an in-house exclusive caterer? Are you okay with that and the limited options, or do they customize the food selections? Are we allowed to bring in our own caterer? If so, the type of caterer matters because some banquet chefs require full-service kitchens and will charge you to rent one if your venue isn't equipped.

  2. Read all the bad reviews. As a wedding planner, I have to believe reviews. The couple's perspective is what is most important. I absolutely have to take it with a grain of salt, though. There are some people who will hold a review ransom in exchange for money. That is scary.

  3. Tour the place in person. Are they clear and concise on the rules and regulations? Answers your questions? And most importantly: Do they talk about other couples in a nice way? One time, I went for a tour and the venue managers were talking so much crap about a past bride of theirs, also about photographers in the industry. I was mortified for them and wished it would stop. The one thing that is unanimous with us vendors is that we don't talk mess. Not about their taste, wedding budget, size, vendor decisions, or personalities, it's extremely tacky and let's everyone know how you'll be talked about when you leave the room. Another time, a venue manager thought they hung up the phone on my bride, but then she heard all of the venue managers talking about her in a very rude way and tried to cover it up. When people show you who they are, believe them.

  4. Ask venues if they have an open vendor list, short mandatory vendor list, or a mix of the two. This might mean you are limited in the amount or who you vendors are. Sometimes venues will only put vendors on their list if they pay! This causes the weddings to all look and feel the same. Sometimes that isn't a bad thing!

  5. Do they use a platform like AllSeated, Triple Seat, or Social Tables? This makes it easy for you to view what your wedding will look like. The software enables you to scale your event and visualize the event in real time. It's a game changer for luxury weddings, large guest counts, and eventful weddings.

  6. Will you be charged for wedding crashers? Venues have the right to put into their contract that they will count each guest to make sure they are not going over the set food, drink, and place settings. They will want to charge accordingly to add extra tables, chairs, linens, and table settings for additional guests. If you expect that to happen, I would ensure there isn't a fee.

  7. Are you allowed a wedding rehearsal onsite the day before? Not every venue will allow you to take up additional time frame for a rehearsal. If your venue is both your ceremony and reception venue, and this is important to you, I would ask this very early on. You might pay for additional hours to your officiant for a rehearsal, not knowing that you aren't able to conduct one at the venue.

  8. Do they provide their own tables, linens, chairs, and set it all up for you? In all of my weddings, only once did my clients have to deploy their family members to set up ceremony chairs. It was not known to them in the beginning that this was even possible, but it was buried in the contract. Taking the time to figure that out in the beginning is may sway your final decision.

In short, I recommend hiring a wedding planner for every venue search. I once had a couple nearly pay $7000 for a venue they didn't like. As soon as they hired me, I was able to find their perfect venue, under budget

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