10 Tips to Find Your Perfect Venue

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Originally posted on QueenLatifah.com

Hi again! Stephanie from The Queen Latifah Show here. Welcome to another part in my Becoming a Bride series! This time I had the absolute pleasure of chatting with Keija Minor (@KeijaMinor on Twitter), Editor in Chief of Brides Magazine (@Brides on Twitter). When I found out I’d have a chance to ask her anything I wanted about weddings, I freaked out a little – what do you ask the woman who knows everything about weddings? After some thinking, I decided I wanted to delve into her best tips for finding the RIGHT venue, especially if you’re on a budget (like me!). Here are her top 10 tips:

1. Match Your Personal Style. Keija explains if your man’s never worn a suit, you should rule out more formal venues like a 5-star hotel plaza. Likewise, “it’s tough to do black tie in a barn,” she laughed. It’s important to find a venue that fits your vibe.

2. Get a Head Count. It’s important to think about your guest list as your choosing a venue. Keija also encourages us that it’s a “good way to tackle the guest list early.” You’ll need a place that’s big enough to hold everyone, but not too many more or “you’ll end up spending more on decor to make it feel cozy.”

3. Ask Around. If you already have another vendor in mind – your favorite photographer, a dress boutique you’ve had your eye on, maybe a favorite restaurant to cater – ask them about venues they’d recommend. “Word of mouth is the best situation,” explained Keija. They’ll be able to recommend really pretty venues, “but also where the service is great because they deal with back of house people.”

4. BYOB. If the venue allows you to bring your own alcohol, this “will save you huge,” says Keija. You can buy in bulk and supply your own bar. (Steph’s note: you can look for wine sales at places like BevMo or snag some “Two Buck Chuck” from Trader Joes!)

5. Buck Tradition! Keija recommends looking for non-traditional spaces. Renting a restaurant, theater, or courthouse can be a lot cheaper than a banquet hall. University campuses are great for college sweethearts. Sleepaway camps are also a great option because they’re usually just in use during the summer and so can be a beautiful outdoor space during the other months of the year. (Steph’s note: pssst, that’s what I’m doing!)

6. Go Rural. If you live in a city, try looking for a venue in a neighboring suburb, says Keija. Venue rentals will mirror the rent in that area so if you live in Manhattan or Los Angeles, you know the price tags can make you gasp. Try driving a little ways and you can find a gem at a reasonable price.

7. Be Flexible. If you have your heart set on a venue that’s outside of your price range, consider getting married on a Friday instead of a Saturday, says Keija. “Friday the 13th will be a lot more affordable. April 1st is another cheap day,” she recommended.

8. Ask Your Planner. If you’re hiring a wedding planner, the planner should weigh in on the venue before you sign the contract. “You’re paying them anyway,” says Keija, “They’ve probably done a lot of weddings in your area. They know which photograph well, which have a good sound system, and which provide great service.”

9. Read the Fine Print. “When you’re negotiating for the venue, ask about the hidden fees,” Keija warns. Do they charge cake cutting fees? Will they charge a fee if you want to bring your own cake or alcohol? Is the lighting provided or will you need to pay extra for those pretty twinkle lights in their photos? Do they charge corkage fees, for additional time at the venue, tips for their vendors like valet and waiters, taxes? You’ll want to know the answer to all these questions because they’ll ultimately affect your bottom line.

10. Budget Budget Budget! You might think doing everything yourself will be cheaper than finding an all-included venue. “A lot of people want to get married in a tent, in a field, or in a gallery space,” says Keija, but she advises, “Weigh what is more cost effective – some more traditional spaces might offer more amenities like chairs and electricity.” If you want to DIY-it-up, you should estimate all your individual costs before you commit.

Brides.com also has some great resources for picking a venue. Check out their list of Most Romantic Venues or Most Romantic Wedding Destinations. They also have a whole list of Questions You Need to Ask Your Wedding Venue Before You Book It.

Thanks Keija minor for all of these tips! I don’t know about you, but I find them super helpful. You can follow @KeijaMinor and @Brides on Twitter for more wedding and bridal tips!

10 Tips to Find YOUR Perfect Venue



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