Have you made your list? You know the one I'm talking about.
Must haves: water view, seated capacity of 152 with a dance floor, separate rooms at least 15 feet from each other for cocktails and dinner.
Would like: chairs included in rental fee, high ceilings.
Repulsed by: cheesy hotel decor, restrictions on red wine.
If you haven't written this laundry list of venue preferences, it's probably because you haven't yet made a venue visit. If you are super picky about this part of your wedding and don't know much about the venues in your area, it's wise to hire a planner for just this aspect, if nothing else.
If you have a solid, small outline of the aspects that matter most, move full speed ahead and schedule your visits. You have a big task in front of you! Read on for the criteria to consider first.
SAS it up: Size, Amount, Scenery
WARNING: Before you get down with your SASsy inner bride, do nothing until you establish your guest list. You'll be juggling some heavy clubs if you choose not to heed this warning. And if you're stressed now...prepare for wedding overload if you're not relatively set in the number of guests you'll be inviting.
A seated dinner for 150 requires a room (or adjacent rooms) that can accommodate enough tables and chairs for 150 guests. White-pillared, enchanting veranda, and a trellis with cascading greenery won't change that fact. Don't fall in love with a venue that will force you to cut people off of any set-in-stone invite list. And, yes, kids count. They can't eat in the parking lot.
Money matters. If your overall wedding budget is $25,000, DO NOT rent a venue that includes nothing but the four walls around you for $10,000. I promise you, it won't work. Always ask about how many hours you'll have the space, are chairs, tables, etc. included, any additional fees.
If your dream reception includes chandeliers, marble balconies, antique soft-gold trimmed chairs and pixie dust, don't waste time on visiting barns, tented gardens and beachfront houses. And be flexible on the pixie dust; it's hard to come by.