Where does your mind jump when you start thinking about planning your wedding? Do you dream about the perfect shot of you and your husband like the one above? Or dress shopping might be first on your mind. Or maybe you go into panic mode just thinking about the long list of details that need to be checked off - and many of those you don't even know to add to the list yet! That's where we come in to try and help you through this process.
If you are like many of our brides, you are saying "I don't even know where to start". You may have been involved in weddings of close friends or siblings before, but now it's all on you. You are the one choosing the menu options, perfecting the guest list, making sure your dress is dropped off for alterations on time, and, of course, managing the budget.
As a venue, we are often one of the first stops in wedding planning. However, there are a few items you should have already figured out before you tour a venue to make sure you make the best decision for your wedding.
1. What is your overall budget?
Determining your budget will set the guidelines for the decisions you make throughout the wedding planning process. Resources such as The Knot and Wedding Wire have some great resources to let you know what a reasonable budget may look like and how much you should spend on each category. You can always adjust those categories to best fit you. If photography is a top priority, but a plated dinner is not - then adjust those categories as you need to.
Don't forget all the "little" things that add up quickly - hair and makeup, invitations, favors, bridal party gifts - these can become a sizeable piece of your budget quickly.
2. What is your guest count?
Not only is this one of the biggest drivers of your budget, but it's a critical piece when looking at venues. Venues will have a maximum guest capacity that you need to make sure matches up with your guest list. Venues will also have different ways of accommodating different size weddings. Our venue has a maximum capacity of 175 with most of our weddings falling in the 125 - 150 range. For a wedding at our max capacity of 175, we can fit everyone inside the barn at a seated dinner which ensures all guests are within the heat/AC as needed for maximum comfort. Dancing would be outside under our string lights or we would break down some tables after dinner to accommodate an inside dance floor. Our sweet spot of 125 guests means there is ample space for seated dinner with a few different layout options and space for the dance floor inside. It also allows an easy set up and transition in case of rain.
Typically, you can expect 80% of the guests you invite to attend the wedding. So, for our venue, if you are inviting 150 - 200 guests you should be fine. If you are inviting 250 - 300, you probably want to look at other options. Knowing your guest count before you set up venue tours will keep you from falling in love with a venue that doesn't match your wedding needs.
3. What is your preferred date?
If you have a specific date that your heart is set on, you want to start looking for venues as early as possible. Saturdays in peak seasons of Spring and Fall may fill up 18 - 24 months in advance. If you have flexibility within a month or season, you will have an easier time finding the perfect venue for you and meeting your date preferences. Don't forget about Friday and Sunday dates. Most venues provide discounts for these dates, and it gives you more availability around your preferred time.
A few other items that will help you make sure get a great start to planning and finding the perfect venue are: knowing how many in your bridal party, if you have out of town guests that need nearby accommodations and if you have any vendors you know you want to work with. As you start to answer the first few questions, a lot of these items will start to become clear. If the venues you tour don't have a Tour Information Sheet like ours or ask the questions on the tour, make sure you ask them about these items to understand how it matches up with your wedding needs.
The most important thing to remember is that you are marrying the love of your life. Keep that as a goal and the other items will fall into place!