Finding the perfect venue for your wedding is crucial to planning your big day. After initially becoming stressed out and feeling completely inadequate in my ability to get my fiance and I to the alter, I decided to compile a quick list of Do’s and Don’ts I wish I would have had before starting my search. If you keep these tips in mind and focus on what you care about (not what everyone else keeps asking you about) the venue hunt can be pretty fun! Congratulations and good luck on finding your perfect wedding venue
The Do Not’s
DON’T: Accept that predetermined wedding packages are the only route down the aisle. This is a good way to spend a lot of extra money on a lot of crap you don’t even care about.
DON’T: Start too big. Planning a wedding can be overwhelming—especially if you try to make specific decisions, like choosing your wedding venue, before you finalize bigger details—like what city or state in which your nuptials will occur. Many of us don’t live in the town (or state) we grew up in, so finalizing the decision on where your wedding is taking place before looking at venues will save you a lot of time and stress. The venue search should start AFTER you nail down your general wedding location.
DON’T: Use the word “wedding” in your Google search. I quickly learned that no matter how I altered my “wedding” search—cheap wedding, budget wedding, inexpensive wedding venue—I was still slammed venues that were definitely not on lesser side of expensive. Maybe there were a few options for the savvy bride out there, but I was wasting too much energy sifting through the options that were out of my price range. I’m now convinced that “engaged-girl-planning-her-wedding” is far too often interpreted as “gullable-girl-who-is-in-an-emotional-space-that-makes-her-likely-to-overspend”. Don’t be that girl!
DON’T: Assume that in order to nail down a good venue, you will have to spend a large amount of money. Does money get you nice things sometimes? Yes, it does. Are there excellent and affordable options out there? Yes, there are. A bigger price tag does not make a venue more valuable.
DO: Set limits before you start your search. How much are you willing to spend? Is there a certain location you need to have? What can you sacrifice, and what are your non-negotiables?
DO: Get inspired and then use creative thinking to do it your way on your budget. There are so many beautiful wedding photos floating around the internet highlighting gorgeous venues, flowers, centerpieces, and other decor. Use these photos to get inspired, but use your own brain to create a wedding environment resembling your ideal (and probably uber expensive) wedding ceremony and reception for much less money. If you find that you can’t get a certain aspect out of your mind–chandeliers, flowers, mountains, or trees–search that term on the internet.
DO: Think outside the box. After countless failed attempts at finding a venue I liked and felt comfortable paying for through internet searches, a friend told me about a huge wedding reception she attended in an airport hangar. That was when the light bulb in my brain finally turned on—I could search for any kind of “venue” I wanted and then transform it to fit the needs of my own “wedding”–marking the day I quit using the word “wedding” in my searches.
DO: Talk to the people in your area who have firsthand experience with wedding planning. Remember how firsthand accounts were called “primary resources” when you first started learning about research in middle school? Think of the wedding pioneers in your area as your primary resources. They’ve been there, and they aren’t trying to sell you something. Use your primary resources to help you discover great options and eliminate those that aren’t so hot more quickly. Wham-Bam!
DO: Search specific terms. I literally found our wedding venue by searching “barn rental” (the funniest part is our venue has a barn on it that isn’t a key component of the entire venue—but hey, whatever works!). The chart below has some search terms that pulled up more affordable results for me.
What tips do you have for finding an affordable wedding venue that you are proud to invite friends and family to on your wedding day?