Weddings & Life Podcast with Taylor Nicole by Denver Wedding Photographer,
Taylor Nicole Photography
Intro: So you’re engaged and you’re ready to dive into wedding planning. The first thing you need is a date and a place. That way no matter where the planning goes from there you will at least know that that is your date and location. No matter what else happens you will be getting married there and then. Simple enough right? But there are a lot of things to consider and be aware of when choosing your venue. So listen in on some of my best venue advice!
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So this episode isn’t going to be about where to find venue ideas. In general I’d say google, check instagram, ask your friends about their venues or venues they almost chose ect. This episode is geared toward what to consider when and before actually choosing your venue. I’m assuming you already have the options. Also, it is helpful to tour venues in person and read reviews about venues online, or if you know people who have used a venue personal experiences will teach you a lot that you might not have found out otherwise!
So my first topic to consider about your potential venue is the venue specific requirements. Each venue will be different here, so here is a list of questions to ask-
Can you choose your own vendors or are there required vendors? This often happens with catering, some venues have an approved list of caterers, or don’t allow outside catering at all. This can be great because that means your venue has already narrowed down the best and most dependable catering team options for you. It also means there might be certain catering expenses that you can’t avoid by bringing in outside vendors.
This can also be with beverage services too. Actually make sure you check if your venue allows any outside alcohol, I’ve heard of this happening quite a few fines when venue managers/coordinators find outside drinks in the getting ready suites. So make sure you know what your venue will require and allow when it comes to vendors.
Also does your venue require you to hire a wedding planner or day of coordinator. Or, does your venue have an on site coordinator and if so what do they provide or do? Will they help line bridal party up for the ceremony entrance ect. If they do when will you meet them? At your final walk through, the day of?
The next point is similar, what do you have to provide vs what does your venue provide. Do you need to find/rent your own table linens, dishes, glasses and flatware. Also table and chairs are a good thing to check on. Some venues you will need to rent and set up all tables/chairs yourselves. Rentals can be such a fun way to really create a style for your wedding, but also expenses add up quickly. And even if your venue does provide chairs would you be allowed to rent a different style of chair to use ect. (I’m thinking of an example like your venue provides folding white chairs and you’d like to bring in a wooden cross back chair just as an example) Does your venue provide an arch, any centerpiece options ect.
Does your venue have requirements about providing shuttles for guests? Sometimes venues with limited parking availability will require you to shuttle your guests to/from the venue. It’s nice to be on top of that from the beginning and not scrambling to find shuttle services later on.
Does your potential venue host multiple weddings per day? This isn’t a deal breaker for everyone, but it can affect your future ability to arrive to your venue early, or add on additional time at your venue.
Which leads into the next point, what time of day do you have access to your venue? When can you set up/tear down. How long do you get your venue for? What time do you have to be out including all decor.
Will you be able to have a rehearsal at your venue? What day/time. In Colorado where weekday weddings are crazy popular getting a rehearsal at your actual venue can be very tricky and if you do have one it might be at 9am a few days before your wedding day ect. And if you can’t have a rehearsal at your venue don’t fret too much, I remember being nervous when I found out that I couldn’t get an actually rehearsal at my venue before, but we talked through everything with the officiant and bridal party just right before we had dinner together the night before and it went very well!
Okay so that is venue specific logistic side of things. Next we get into something I desperately want more couples to consider and that is how the time of year will impact your wedding venue.
First think of the weather on your potential date at that venue. If you aren’t sure what the weather and scenery is like on your venue date ask your venue too. See if you can find examples.
Is it likely to snow, rain, hail, be hot, cold. And yes it’s hard to predict but your venue has been there for a while and can give you at least a glimpse of what to expect. When considering THE weather think of your guests especially if you have any traveling in from out of state. How would their drives from the airport be during that time of year. This isn’t to say don’t have a Winter wedding in a mountain location, but that can help you warn traveling guests to rent the appropriate vehicles ect. And I will say that even in a place as dry as Colorado it’s hard to escape occasional rain showers even through the Summer months, so you might not be able to avoid certain weather, but you can be prepared knowing it’s a possibility that time of year.
However my main thought when it comes to weather and seasons is actually how that will affect the aesthetic of your venue. The number one way I’ve seen this play out is when a couple is coming from out of state and they assume the weather has similar patterns to what they are used to. That could take someone from the east coast to Jackson Hole in late October expecting warm Fall and ending up with snow and no fall leaves left. Yes that happened. Or planning a Spring mountain wedding in Colorado, especially along the i70 areas, will more often than not lead to fresh snow instead of the warm fresh greenery easter pastel vibes that you’d think of with a Spring wedding. The fresh greens actually don’t come out in the mountains until later in the year depending on locations.
To continue my mini soap box- remember when I mentioned that I disliked how late Colorado’s Spring comes. Well with venues here the taller/more mature trees tend to not leaf out again until late May. Yes it’s crazy but trust me as someone every year who is desperately waiting for greenery to come back it’s late May. The ground and grasses start to green up in March and then it is the longest wait ever to get leaves back in the trees! So if you choose a venue that is known for it’s tall trees and greenery and that is what you’re hoping for, make sure that you know what will actually be there greenery wise on your wedding date. Another example of this would be choosing to get married on a farm or flower farm. One of my favorite new venues I worked at this year was a flower farm and I went to a walk through earlier in the Summer and they made a note to mention the type of flowers they would be growing in the main fields at the time of the wedding and what to expect the fields to look like at that time. It was something that I hadn’t thought about before and was so impressed by!
In other regions this will play out with common weather patterns. For example in San Diego area they call it June Gloom because there are often cloudy cooler days that time of the year. I photographed a beach wedding during a typical June gloom sort of day and I thought it was gorgeous, and also chilly haha.
So overall consider the time of year and how that will affect your wedding day experience and aesthetic. Mostly so you aren’t surprised later on!
Next up on the things to consider list- Your guest experience at the venue.
First, Guest accommodations. Are there hotels in the area to recommend? Will you need or want to provide a shuttle? How far will their travel be if they are coming in from out of state?
Also, where will your cocktail hour be held? What does your venue provide for cocktail hour, or recommend you provide if you’re getting your own catering and drink services.
Along those lines, consider your own experience at the venue.
This can mean a lot of things. Does your venue provide a place for you to stay the night before? Does it provide a good space for you to get ready with your bridal party? Specifically make sure you know if it provides a good space for the groom and groomsmen to get ready because they are left out quite often at venues. Not a deal breaker but in that case it might require getting a fun hotel room for the guys to hang out and get ready in near your venue. Maybe that is the best choice for the girls too depending on the location.
Does your venue have the portrait locations you want? Or will you want to leave the venue for portraits in better scenery? In that case is your venue close to areas you would like to use. Some of this your photographer can help you determine but a good idea to have a general idea.
And the last thing I can think of, for now, this is probably just one of the first episodes about venues, is your indoor and outdoor back up options.
Like I mentioned before, even in Colorado which is a fairly dry environment I’ve seen rain on more Summer and Fall wedding days than not. And snow in months that you wouldn’t think of it, like a large snow storm in May. It was in Estes but still, several feet in May was more than anyone expected. So with your venue do you have an outdoor ceremony/reception, and if so what are your options if and maybe even when the weather takes an unexpected turn. Do they have an indoor option, do they provide heat lamps to warm your guests outside.
And I hope that you can see how any and all of this would apply to using multiple venues as well. I know it can be common to choose separate ceremony and reception locations, which is great! When choosing two separate locations make sure you consider logistics of how decorations like floral arrangements can be transferred between venues easily the day of, travel time for your guests, and the timing of when you will want access to the reception venue to begin as well.
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All of these are just tips that hopefully will help you feel more prepared and less surprised about your wedding venues. I hope I didn’t state too many good/bad options. I don’t want to be directing your venue choices in any way but just to make you more aware of venues and circumstances that might affect which venue would be best for you. If you have any other tips or things to consider, when it comes to choosing a venue let me know and I will make another episode one day!
Thanks for listening to another episode!