Venue Scouting TipsWords by Lauren Marshall
Photos courtesy of Canva
Making the trip to Texas to meet with my venue for the first time, I realized the basic destination wedding planning formula can be a lot simpler than you'd think.
Marrying in Austin, Texas has been a long time dream for me, but planning a big event...not my cup of tea. But, lucky for me, my venue (Star Hill Ranch) is run by a close family friend. They have many years of experience working with destination couples who have every minute and detail planned out (including extremely specific requests like beer carrying donkeys -- in true Texas fashion).
So, while I sat down with them for a meeting, I gathered some basic do’s and don’ts for your initial encounter:
•Ask your venue for their preferred vendor list. This is a comprehensive list of all the different vendors the property/venue is used to working with and can recommend. These are usually vetted professionals of all kinds from wedding planners and photographers to DJ's and florists. Because the venue is used to working with these individuals, it can help give you a seemless experience and you have the peace of mind knowing these vendors work well together.
• Get to understand the spaces at the venue that will house different functions of your event. As you go through the spaces, make notes of questions you may need to ask your vendors (especially your planner if they aren't with you on your initial visit) that could affect pricing. For example, if your DJ has to move locations from cocktail hour then again to dinner and maybe even a third time for dancing, make note to ask them if they charge extra for this and if they’ll need help moving their equipment. Ideally, you would want a smooth transition without equipment being moved around during your event - so keep your eyes out for glaring issues like that.
•Ask what décor your venue might already have. It could help reduce your overall cost or at least avoid redundancies if they already have certain things on hand. This also allows them to take a little bit off your plate.
•Forget the backup plan. Even if the weather is seemingly predictable, always have an alternative (you can live with) for each portion of your event. The last thing you should have to do on your wedding day is scramble to find your plan-b.
•Forget to look at the fine print of the contract. Really understanding your event minimums for food and beverage, if there are site fees associated with the ceremony, cocktail hour or any portion of the event and what is included in those site fees. Sometimes chairs and certain items you'd need to rent (patio umbrellas for shade or UV equipment) are included and add value to what you're paying for.
•Leave without knowing if your presumed date is available or if someone else might be looking at that same date. Nothing is worse than getting really excited about a venue only to find out they're booked out and won't be able to accomodate your event.
Maybe you’re like me and meeting with vendors will reveal details that you would’ve never thought to hash out. Even if you are a star at details, have your venue and planner/coordinator give their input on timing and logistics. Hey, you hired them because they are experts at what they do!
When the meetings and site visits are done, take time to explore the surrounding area. You and your partner will want to wind down after and it can be nice to have suggestions of things to do in the area for guests.
Now, I’m going to take my own advice and kick back a bit!
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