How to: Tour a Wedding Venue
For most brides, this is their first time doing pretty much everything associated with having a wedding. Picking a caterer, discussing large floral arrangements, hiring a coordinator, and yes, even picking a wedding venue. It’s hard to know where to even start!
That’s why we’re launching our “How To” series for some commonly asked questions we get from our curious brides! This series will cover most of your basic questions- hopefully giving you the tools to plan a perfect ‘I do’ with flawless details.
So here are our top 5 secrets to having a perfect venue tour!
Step #1 Come prepared
When you tour a venue for the first time, there are a lot of expectations on both sides. For you, you’re hoping to find that magic zing that tingles in your fingertips that tells you- this is the place you want to start your forever with your spouse. For the venue, they are hoping you love what they offer and that you’ll book right on the tour. Both of those things can happen, but not if you don’t do your research first. There are a lot of venues out there- all with their own unique offerings and quirks that make them perfect for some and downright dreadful for others. When considering where you want to get married, it’s important to sit down with your fiancé and have a conversation about what you both envision for your big day. This includes talking about budget so maybe bring in any financial contributors to the conversation to have a realistic idea of what to expect. Trust us, touring a venue out of your budget only leads to heartbreak.
Do your research- check out your local venue’s websites and social media. They should have reviews and photos that will give you an idea of what it could be like to have your wedding there. They also oftentimes have their prices available on their website. If they don’t, you can ask to see those prices before touring so you can make sure you’re not wasting your time or theirs. After that, it’s a matter of picking which venues you want to tour (we recommend anywhere from 2 to 5 venues) and booking your tours!
Step #2 Bring the right people
Ever heard the phrase ‘two’s a party but three’s a crowd’? It doesn’t really apply to wedding venue tours. It’s really common to bring your mom and dad on a tour! However, there are some people that don’t really belong on your tour. You really want to stick to people that would actually be influential in your decision making. There is always time to show your maid of honor which venue you picked later. Most venues would be happy for you to come out for a show-off tour! For the big tour, only bring people that would be deciding which venue you’ll actually choose.
Also, it surprisingly needs to be noted, it’s much better if both you AND your fiancé are there for the tour! If you are casually viewing lots of venues without your future spouse, you’ll be more likely to miss that finger-tingling magic at seeing him (or her) at the end of the aisle when you’re touring for the first time. Try to find a time that works for both of your schedules so you can be equal decision makers in this big choice!
One more thing, we love kids, you love kids, but they really distract during a tour. Mom and Dad are usually busy making sure they don’t get into mischief or they don’t get bored, or they need to be changed. If you can manage it, get a friend or a babysitter to watch the kids for the afternoon- you’ll be able to focus on the tour and your tikes won’t be super bored during it! Plus, you could even make a date out of it! See a few venues, go to a few wineries. Take that afternoon to make a romantic moment with your fiancé. You only get to enjoy your engagement for a few months!
Step #3 Ask the right questions
When touring a venue for the first time, it’s really easy to get swept up in the beauty of everything they provide. It’s the venue’s job to sell you on having your beautiful day with them while also telling you the details but it’s your job to make sure your questions get answered. Here are a few questions that we get asked a lot (and some that don’t get asked but we wish they did!):
What is the allowed guest count? Are they any fees if we go over a certain number?
What are your rules for alcohol?
Do I need a wedding coordinator to book your venue?
When can we get onsite the day of? When does clean up need to be done?
Do you have more than one ceremony site option?
Where do the brides and grooms get ready? What sort of amenities do you provide?
Try to think of your day before your tour and what you really want. Do you absolutely need your bridal party to be on site the night of? Do you want to have a big rehearsal dinner at the venue the night before? Do you want a wedding tree that is over 200 hundred years old to be decorated in floating white chiffon (or is that just us?)? There is always time for follow-up emails but you just don’t want to be surprised by anything after you’ve signed a contract.
Step #4 Be mindful of the season
Are you dreaming of a lush summer wedding with soft green grass and gorgeous peonies on the walkways? Maybe keep in mind that a venue in the summer and a venue in the winter can look very different! Touring in the winter can be tricky because some people have trouble picturing what the venue can look like in the spring. If you have to tour in the winter, we recommend asking for pictures of what specific areas look like in the season you want your wedding to take place. A venue will often have plenty of photos through the seasons that they may not have put online yet!
The same can also be said of the winter bride. Don’t expect verdant green grass during a January wedding. Be realistic in your expectations and plan accordingly for your special day.
Step #5 Don’t feel the pressure- but don’t hesitate too long
Booking a venue can be a bit stressful, especially when you consider all of the other couples also looking at the time frame you’re wanting to get married. Any venue worth their snuff won’t pressure you into booking the day of, but be mindful that oftentimes a venue will not be able to hold dates for brides that may take more time to decide. December through February is engagement season so that’s generally when venues get booked the most! It’s a good idea to book all of your venue tours within a month of each other so you don’t feel rushed to make a decision but you also get the date you want! Also, don’t be afraid to book the day of either! Venues are generally happy to walk you through a contract and explain all of the details if you really feel that this venue is the right choice for you!
Picking a wedding venue can be a big decision! With the right planning though it can be easier than you think. Don't forget- how you feel in a place is a big part of your choice too. Does it feel right? Listen to that little voice and you'll have no problem picking the venue of your dreams.