Top Tips for Finding Your Wedding Venue

As a venue owner and speaking for many other wedding professionals, we understand that this is new territory for you; most likely you’ve never planned a wedding before or for that matter an event for 50+people. For these reasons, and many more, we’re here to help you with finding your wedding venue!

Article: Jessica Watson from Up the Creek Farms

Photo: Bumby Photography

Things you should know…

  •  It doesn’t take a wedding to get married. You should first understand that a wedding is an optional celebration, in other words, a luxury experience. Keep this in mind the entire planning process and when making decisions.
  •  Understand the professionals you hire. Even though they are part of an upscale industry, it doesn’t mean they are taking advantage of you. You get what you pay for.
  • Choose people to work with that are kind, helpful, and passionate about what they do. We are here to help make the entire process an experience that you’ll want to enjoy.
  • There are no stupid questions. A venue is most likely one of the first vendors you will select. We love educating and helping couples in the planning process. There are quite a few logistics we’re sure you haven’t thought of yet. We hope we can help with some tips below in helping you select the perfect venue!

Finances

This topic tends to be ignored and is one of the most important to discuss in the beginning stages of wedding planning. Whether you are paying for the wedding yourselves, or have contributing
parties, having a ballpark idea of your overall budget and what you can afford is vital.

**TIP: Don’t be surprised when vendors ask this question. We’re asking to make sure we can share with you the most appropriate packages to fit within your budget. Most deposits are non-refundable. This is to protect you from a vendor “double or overbooking.” If your venue only books one event per day (By the way, exclusivity is really nice), they have eliminated
the opportunity to give anyone else the chance to consider this date as it is already reserved for you!

Photo: Liz Cowie Photography

Location

This will set the feel and tone for your wedding. Are you interested in a ballroom, urban space, country club, or southern estate?

**TIP: The internet is a great resource and if you can pinpoint the right keywords, you’ll pull up some pretty exceptional venues. If you’re considering a rustic or unique venue space, keep in mind how close the venue is to the highway, hotels, and rehearsal dinner locations. These logistics are important and will play a big part in the week of your wedding.

Venue Features

Everyone has a different idea of the amount of time they want to put into planning a wedding. If you’re selecting a venue that is over 2-3 hours away, consider an all-inclusive package.

**TIP: Most tours and meetings are scheduled during the week, since events (like your future wedding) will take place over the weekend. We don’t want to impede on someone else’s special day OR yours! If you like the idea of more control and selecting your own vendors, look for a location that allows outside vendors. Some venues may have a preferred vendor list for you to select from. Here’s why… we’ve spent a lot of time curating a group of professionals that we will vouch for and know will do a great job for you. You may be able to taste cakes from different bakeries, but at what point would you get to see a DJ perform? Trust us, we have suggestions to fit every personality. Also, the number of guests on your list is a huge contributor to whether or not you can select yourdream venue.

Breaking Down Your Venue Fee

Unless you’ve selected an all-inclusive package, it is challenging to find out what things cost. Each venue is different in what is included. For instance, all of our packages include tables, chairs and linens. Would you even begin to know what size linen to order (see above) to avoid exposing metal table legs or where to order? You should also understand the difference between a venue coordinator versus a wedding coordinator. Both are equally important – just different roles. The venue coordinator is there to guide you and answer questions throughout your engagement, make recommendations for vendors, help with details along the way. A wedding coordinator handles all of the logistics, creating a timeline, and vendor communication leading up to your wedding and on your wedding day, so you can enjoy every second stress free.

Photo: Bumby Photography

Selecting a Wedding Date

In Florida, our season is very different than most states. Peak season for outdoor wedding venues are going to fall between October and May. Alternatively, during the summer months, you can sometimes find off-season rates. If part of the event is to take place outside, make sure there is a Plan B. Is there an indoor location to have the ceremony inside with a last minute decision or do you need to reserve a tent in advance (typically 4-5 days prior)? If this is the case, remember to designate part of your budget towards the tent. Is there a Plan C? Is the venue equipped with a backup generator? Florida is known for afternoon thunderstorms certain times of year, and having this reassurance would be that much more appealing.
**TIP: You can purchase Cancellation Insurance online at www.theeventhelper.com or www.wedsafe.com to cover Act’s of God, a family death, etc. Make sure you read the fine print to know what is covered.

The other side of this topic is: How far in advance should you book your venue?

Planning a wedding should only take about 4 months. However, if you have a specific date in mind, you will need to look well in advance at reserving a date with your venue. If you’re flexible, be open to hearing all the options that are available. For instance, if you’re on a tight budget, consider a Friday or Sunday – typically venues have a discount. Brunch weddings are trending and could be the perfect atmosphere for a hip couple. Plus, you can make a red-eye flight for your honeymoon the same day as your wedding and be on your way to paradise! Lastly, consider a week day. Not every venue can accommodate this, but if they do, prices are typically cut in half. We’re sure there are many other factors to consider, so make a list of questions and criteria that are important to you and don’t be afraid to ask! And remember when all is said and done, at the end of the day, you married your best friend.

About the Author: Jess Watson is the owner of Up the Creek Farms, which is located in Grant-Valkaria, FL. Up the Creek Farms property sits on eight acres of land with a beautiful oak canopy, creek front on the north perimeter, and lots of Old Florida charm-so many locations for an outdoor ceremony! A classic wood framed barn is available to host receptions and other special events with a charming blank canvas to style any event.