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The Venue

Event Planning Series: Venue


So you’re looking at venues! This is often one of the biggest decisions you will make when you are planning your wedding. It determines so many factors including the number of guests you can have, how much budget you have left to play with, and more often than not, the date.


The venue is often also one of the first decisions you will make, then from there, you will send out your invitations to form your guest list and pick all of your other suppliers. It’s pretty serious business picking a venue and can sometimes be a little overwhelming when you first start out considering everything that you need to think about.


I always suggest picking your venue first, there is usually lots of options for florists, lots of options for dates and lots of options for photographers. More often than not, there is only one dream venue. That one venue that you get excited just thinking about, you get goosebumps when you do your site visits, and you can see a vision starting to form of how it will look on the day. It’s always easiest to start here when you plan a wedding. When working with full planning clients or even planning a shoot, this is always the step I start at and often the one I find the hardest because it does determine so many things.


Photographer: Pixel Punk Photography

How do you know though which venue is for you? Where do you even start looking? My best suggestion is a Pinterest board or saving some things on Instagram. This will help you figure out what sort of a mood and style you’re looking for. Are you finding yourself looking more at beach style weddings or country style. This is a quick and easy way to rule out venue types. If your whole Pinterest board is by the beach, then a rustic style barn won’t work for you.


Once you have narrowed this down, head to the internet! Bridal Facebook groups are a great resource and will be sure to provide some great recommendations on venues they have been to, got married at or have attended a wedding at. These recommendations are invaluable because they come from real people! Not just something a venue has paid for to get nice words written about them.


My second recommendation on where to start looking for a venue is blogs. There are lots out there like Easy Wedding and Wedshed. They have not only an array of venue options, but also real reviews from couples.


Photographer: Match Made Photography


Get in touch with each of the venues to get some information, find out what they offer on the day, what inclusions you can get, what packages are available, and more importantly for how much. This is incredibly important to do, I hate to see brides run off and start vision boarding and creating style guides, in other words absolutely falling in love with the venue. Only to find out, it’s double their entire budget and just isn’t an option. Make sure you are aware from the start what is in the budget, and what isn’t. Those that aren’t in the budget need to be cut from the list right there and then. You can’t fall in love with a venue that’s out of budget if you haven’t seen it!


You’ve now got your top 3 or so venues, you know they’re in your price range and you know what they offer. It’s time for the fun part! Go and book in those site visits. Take the fiancé along and make a fun experience out of it. If there’s a restaurant or café around, stay for a coffee or lunch. Really get to experience what the venue is like and what it has to offer.


It’s important to personally inspect the venue, don’t just look at videos or listen to what your friends think. You need to go yourself. You will know as soon as you step on site and start walking around if it’s the one for you or not. You will feel it, you’ll instantly get excited, maybe some goosebumps, and you won’t be able to wipe the smile off your face. Don’t worry if you don’t feel it at the first few. It’s like dating, the first one isn’t usually THE ONE. Although it would save us a lot of tears and chocolate during our early twenties!


Whilst you’re at the venue there are a few things to consider and chat to the venue coordinator about. If you have a Wedding Planner or an On The Day Coordinator, bring them along. They will usually think of a lot of these questions and do the asking for you.


Photographer: Match Made Photography


Wet Weather Backup

This one only applies if you have an outdoor ceremony or reception. It’s an incredibly important one. We always all pray for great weather for our wedding days, but you just never know and it’s important you are prepared. Hopefully you won’t need it, but nothing adds stress to a wedding day quite like rain and no backup plan.


Make sure you check if there are any additional costs if you go with the wet weather option and how far in advance does the venue need to know.


Exclusivity

Find out how much of the venue you get, sometimes you’ll just be put in a pokey room out the back, and other times you will get exclusive access. Neither are necessarily a reason to use or not use a venue, but is just something important to note.

Photographer: Karisma Studios

Recommended Suppliers

Have a chat to the coordinator about their recommended suppliers list. Most venues will have a list like this, that details who they would recommend for various aspects of your big day. The benefit to using these suppliers is they often will have a great deal for couples of the venue and they also know the space really well having worked there multiple times before. That knowledge will become invaluable on the day.


Inclusions

We discussed this earlier in this blog piece, but make sure you are aware of what inclusions come with the venue cost. Costs can quickly blow out when you need to bring in things like cutlery and crockery for all of your 100 guests, as opposed to the venue providing these.


Again, this isn’t necessarily a deal breaker or a reason to not use a venue, but it is definitely worth considering and factoring into your budget. Also check what the inclusions look like, make sure you either see them in person or ask for some photos. The venue might have a signing table they will throw in for free. But it might be the ugliest thing you have ever seen.


Pricing

A typical venue will charge in two ways. The first will be a flat venue hire fee, this will be for

utilising the space for your day. The venue hire fee will typically remain the same regardless

of the day of your event, the number of people or the type of event. This can range from a few hundred to a few thousand depending on the venue and the location. This cost doesn’t go towards a bar tab, or a head count or anything along those lines.


Photographer: Pixel Punk Photography

The venue will then have a per head spend, this will cover the cost of the food for each of your guests and will vary depending on the number of courses and the type of food. It can range from about $50 per head up to a couple hundred. This cost will be variable and will need to be finalised usually 2 weeks before the wedding with a final headcount.


Your bar tab and drinks package is next. Venues will often give you the option of putting down a lump sum onto the bar as a tab. Guests will then order their drinks as usual and it will be deducted from the tab. The second option is a drinks package. These are often better value if you have a group of big drinkers. This will be a flat rate per head for a set number of hours and will include all you can drink alcohol. The type of package will determine if it is just beer and wine or spirits and cocktails as well.


The final thing to check with pricing is the minimum spend. This will vary depending on whether you are having a week day or a weekend event. Week days will typically have a lower minimum spend as these dates aren’t as popular. This is an easy straight up way to save on the budget by having a mid-week wedding. All of the above will be added up and go towards the minimum spend. If you are still under the minimum spend, the best way to reach the minimum spend is to put more on the bar tab, or upgrade your food package.


Photographer: Match Made Photography

All in all, there is a lot to consider about these venues! It’s a really big choice to make and can be overwhelming. The trick is to not let it be! Figure out early on what style of venue you like, pick your top three and go and see them. You’ll know if you’ve found the one or not! If you’re still not sure, send us an email, I’m happy to chat through your options.

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