Friday, April 4, 2014



Welcome to another installment of Bride Day Friday. Still working our way through the big three, I promise it gets easier after this. As Aladdin would say, "Do you trust me?"

So, you've got a pretty good idea of the guest list, you handled your money convos like a pro and have a solid budget, and now you are ready to book the space and the date. You go!

First, pick the season / month in which you would like to get married. Chances are, by this point you and your fiance already have a good idea of when this will be. The more specific you can be the better. Have a date you love or that is meaningful to you? Heart set on a certain month? Great, then only consider venues that are available on those dates.

If you're like me, you have a more general season in mind. We had our hearts set on the fall in Virginia. Since another good friend of mine is getting married in October and selfishly I didn't want to get married on my birthday, we settled on September or November. Excellent - ten months down two to go. Celebrate each step toward a decision. ;)

Once you know when you'd like to tie the knot, next decide where. In your home town and in Hawaii are very different things. Both are ok, just narrow it down to a 25 mile radius, it will make your research on what's available in that area so much more efficient.

Now you've got the general time frame and general location for your wedding. Winning. From this point, you will fall into one of two categories: Smart or Ambitious. See what I did there? Either way, it's a good thing. :)

Things to consider with a venue:
  • Date - Time of year, day of the week, time of day
  • Setting - Indoor, outdoor, formal, rustic
  • Capacity - How many people can fit seated? Standing?
  • Base Price - How much does the space alone cost to rent (not including food / alcohol)?
  • Inclusions - What comes with the base rental price? Do they provide tables, chairs, staff, bartenders, etc?
  • Catering Options - How much does the catering cost? Can you use your own catering company if the venue's option is too expensive?

Smart: Your wedding ceremony and reception will be at the same stunning location.
You brilliant woman you, life just got easier. Since your wedding will all be at one amazing location, your research will be a little bit less complicated.

Phase I
Start with your time frame and your 25-mile radius and get on Google. Just look at websites, people are honest and post pictures and that makes it easy to get a sense of places before you go.

Phase II
For the 10-15 places you like from pics and reviews, email or call and ask the representative to send you some financial / catering information and see if they are available on your dates. Throw out ones that are way too expensive and don't give it a second thought. The right one will be there, don't waste time on the wrong ones!

Phase III
Slap your top 4-8 venues (within your budget) into a spreadsheet and set up an in-person visit. When you go to visit take lots of pictures and see how well you get along with the wedding coordinator there. You will be working with her closely so if you find her annoying take that into consideration. You want to love your POC because she will be your best friend. Make sure you ask what is required to reserve the date! Don't want to lose it while you are considering options before signing a contract. :)

Ambitious: Your wedding ceremony will be at a religious institution and then you and all your guests will travel to a different, yet equally awesome reception location. 
Don't worry. You will be fine. This is actually what Josh and I are doing. Having a Catholic Mass is really important to us so we're gonna do two locations.

You will be doing phases I-III as well, but you have a pre-phase... CHECK WITH YOUR RELIGIOUS INSTITUTION about when they are available. This is essential. There are different rules and procedures at each church and synagogue etc. Please please please prioritize this step before you get your heart set on a certain reception venue.

Or choose your reception venue first and then pick the nearest house of worship that you like. This, much like your navigation of the big three comes down to priority. If you have your heart set on a specific barn and you don't care what church you get married in, then book the barn and see what churches are available after that.

However, if you must get married in your home parish or your Grandma's church, get those dates / restrictions first and work from there. You'll be happy with both your efficiency of research and making sure you only look at venues that work with that church.

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