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If you read our previous post, you’re in great shape to kick off the wedding planning process. With a high level vision, a rough budget, and a priorities list in hand, it’s time to start scouting venues. Your venue is the single most important decision to ensuring you’re able to bring your vision to life. Venues are not all made the same - some come fully equipped and some are bare bones, nothing beyond a standing structure. Understand what’s included, what’s going to cost extra, any restrictions, and logistical challenges will determine how and when you and your guests can party.

Below is our list of budget considerations and questions to ask the venue rep before seriously considering a venue:

Onsite Inventory: does the venue have any furniture, including tables and chairs, or is this something that you’ll need to rent.

Kitchen Space: besides the obvious furniture, you might need to also bring in a full kitchen, Many venues don’t have a full kitchen onsite.

Transportation and Parking:

Transportation - depending on the region, your site might require that all guests are shuttled on and

off the property (this is a standard venue policy in California’s Wine Country - Napa/Sonoma).

Parking - a large guest count is not the only impact on parking availability. A big vendor list and

seasonality can also impact parking capabilities. You might require valet, shuttles to a nearby parking

lot, or rideshare options.

Power Capabilities: depending on the venue’s location, you might need to bring in power. Some historic venues might not be able to support a kitchen buildout or your band’s needs. Also, take note of the outlet locations - this might restrict the placement of certain elements (e.g. ceremony musicians).

Restrooms: depending on your guest count, the age of the venue’s pipes, or the location, restrooms might be another item on your rentals list. Porta potties are no longer the only option - restroom trailers have come along way, and many are nicer than built out restrooms.

Preferred vs Required Vendors: when you inquire with a venue they might provide a vendor list along with the pricing/info brochure. It’s important to understand preferred versus required vendors. Required vendors are ones that must be sourced off the venue provided list - this means you are ultimately locked into a baseline price point and selections. If you had your eyes set on a specific caterer, a restricted venue list might a) prevent you from working with that caterer or b) create additional fees and logistics to bring in an outside option.

Like any contract, your venue contract is a legally binding doc, that locks you into certain conditions and fees. Before you sign anything, seriously consider bringing a planner on board. An experienced planner can help you understand what an event at your top venue will cost full in, help you envision what it might look/feel, and call out any red flags. They can also help negotiate the terms, including fees and timing, resulting in savings overall. If you’re venue scouting, have any site contract questions, or need general geographical guidance drop us a note - we’d love to hear more about your celebration!

On the next blog, we’ll be covering our timeline to lock in a rock star team, with many vendors requiring an earlier booking than expected.

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