Yesterday my mom and I finalized our reception venue and put down our first $500 towards my wedding. I was so excited to enter in that $500 to my budgets, the first tangible action prepping me for this incoming wedding.
Today I wanted to give you an overview of my plan of attack when it came to venue shopping. I am notoriously bad at asking questions on the spot. Sometimes my mind goes blank, and I just can’t remember the important concerns I want to discuss with every potential vendor. Being the organized little bride-to-be that I am (or that I’m desperately trying to be), I made “worksheets” to bring to each appointment, and it was honestly such a good idea.
Bringing my own clipboard and worksheet (and pen!) elevated the professionalism of each meeting. I even impressed the first event planner in my first meeting! I’m still beaming from that compliment!
Each venue will probably provide with you with some paperwork and photos about their venue, pricing, additional add-ons, etc, but usually they don’t hand that out until the end of the meeting. Also not one offered me a pen! So if you do not choose to use a pre-made worksheet, I would recommend at the very least bringing a notebook and pen.
I will attach my worksheet to the end of this post, but it might not necessarily work for you. What you need to do is brainstorm if you haven’t already, what your wedding will entail and specifically what might be a deal break for a venue.
For me I had just a few important specifics, which could have been deal breakers. First my brother’s band was going to perform, so if the venue didn’t allow outside entertainment or had a ridiculous fee for an outside vendor, that could have been a red flag. Next my mom preferred a buffet style for the meal, so I made sure to ask that at each appointment.
Craft beer selection was also important to me and my fiancé, so I had a reminder under my Food and Beverage section. I also wanted to know when I would have the venue available for my guests, as well as when I would be able to do set up myself. We’re planning on doing our own flowers, so we would need to set those up in the room as well as do centerpieces, set up our photo booth, and any other décor we end up making.
Since my wedding is in the Midwest in mid November, I was considerate of weather alternatives, should anything be outside. I also asked about coat check, parking, and bathrooms. Bathrooms are very important to me at an event!
The way my worksheet worked for me is that I left blanks to add contact information, the venue name, the hours I could access it. I also had another section just for Food and Beverage and I would list things like “craft beer selection?” to remind myself to ask about it, and if it was something that was possible I would just circle it. Of course I had plenty of room to just take general notes as well!
I am ending this post with some general questions you might want to ask. This might help you get in the right mindset about your wedding as an event with logistically concerns. Some of these are questions I asked, some are questions I wished I had asked, and some are answers that the sales or event staff gave me without prompting, which blew me away!
Additional Questions to Ask
What will your role be in this process?
Do you have any photos from previous events? Photos that show a set up similar to mine?
What drink package/food and beverage package/DJ do most brides choose?
Do you have any vendors with which you prefer to work? DJs, bakeries, florist?
(If parking is not free) Can we pay for our guests’ parking?
What’s the cake cutting fee?
Can we put out our own mixed nuts or pub mix during social hour?
Can we have a late night snack served?
What is the maximum capacity? What’s your preferred capacity?