February 12, 2018

“Engagement season” has been in full swing, and if you are reading this, you may be one of those sweet newly engaged couples, or a loved one, that is ready to jump in to planning your celebration! 

As you might have already experienced, the beginning of the celebration planning process can be overwhelming because most details are just a mere thought or cloud of ideas. The first step in making these details reality is securing the space in which your celebration will unfold…the place where an experience will be created. There’s a lot of weight when it comes to finding something that uniquely serves your intentions for this season!

Many couples come to us with this swirling mix of thoughts and ask how they will ever find a location and space that best fits their planning process and most importantly, the experience they or their guests will have. We’re here to help! 

Finding a venue is the start of an incredible and once in a lifetime experience for you, your fiancé and your loved ones. Yes, it can be daunting, but it can also be fun and exciting if done intentionally, I promise! Once you have this secured, so many other pieces to the experience you’ve been dreaming of will become more and more a reality.

Here’s a few items to consider as you begin the venue search:

1. Decide what is most important to you.

Take time to consider what your non-negotiable items are for this planning process as well as the celebration itself. What locations and dates are best for you and your guests? What do you want to feel that day or have your guests feel? What does the flow of the entire celebration week look like? Once you answer these questions and write them down, use them as a filter for the venues you come across. Make sure the venue being considered fulfills each of these values you have for the celebration. You can adjust accordingly if needed, but for the most part, stick to these as much as possible! 

2. Do research on what a realistic celebration budget looks like.

Now that you have your highest values listed for your celebration, ask a professional and do some research on what a realistic budget for your event might look like. The more you can go into the search with realistic expectations, the easier and less stressful the process will be. Some things you may have to give and take for. For example, if you really want to provide a certain atmosphere at an event, you may decide to pay more for a venue that reflects that atmosphere best. In return, you may have to decide what you could do without in order to give more to that area, depending on the budget you are working with.

3. Make a list of the potential venue options. 

There are a ton of venues out there, so depending on what you choose to value most as well as the budget you set, make a list of the potential venue options that you would most like to look into. Don’t make the list too long as this can be overwhelming. The more you can research a venue beforehand, the better. Allow yourself to look at all the options and prioritize them by how they fulfill what’s most important to you. You might even add details in a spreadsheet regarding what they provide, their cost, available dates, etc.

4. Schedule site visits.

It is so important to take a bit of time to see the space and start to envision your celebration there. We always recommend scheduling your site visits on one day or a couple days if possible. This way you can make the most of your time and have them all fairly fresh in your mind. Be sure to actually make an appointment with the venue manager and your planner to tour the space. You may find that things look different than expected or there is a sense of disorganization or element that you don’t prefer. This will help narrow down your options. Don’t overwhelm yourself with too many visits, but give yourself the opportunity to see all those that are viable options. You just never know until you get there what you might fall in love with! 

Additionally, take only those that understand your non-negotiable values with you (your fiancé and maybe one other family member or friend). If you don’t have a planner or designer with you, be sure to make a list of questions to ask the venue manager on available dates, event flow, the planning process, cost, staffing, and services provided by the venue.

5. Discuss and secure with a contract and deposit. 

Once you have visited your top venue options, be sure to review paperwork and contracts that are sent to you with your planner or those that are helping with the celebration planning. Give yourself a day or two to think through the options if you aren’t sure and always return to your celebration values! After a couple days and your final decision in hand, contact the venue manager right away to book the date and times you are looking for! Many venues have lots of people looking at them and will book quickly and further out, so don’t hesitate once making a decision to sign the contract and send in the required deposit! 

Then let the rest of the celebration design begin!!