The next step is a wedding venue tour.
What is that? The wedding venue tour is a walk-through of the potential venue which allows you to see the space itself. Sometimes, everything you see and read online isn’t exactly as you expected it. The tour allows you to see it for yourself and ask all of your questions.
Here are some tips on how to make the most of your wedding venue tour.
Do Your Online Research
Even after you’ve narrowed down the list from 360 wedding venues to your top choices, do your research.
Ask trusted friends, family, and wedding experts if they know the venue. Then, be sure to read their reviews online. Not everyone is going to have all stellar reviews because we all know that no one is perfect.
WVM TIP: Ask them about one of their negative reviews and see how they handle it.
The venue coordinator is going to ask you a lot of questions.
For some things, you know exactly what you want… TELL THEM! For those questions you haven’t thought of, it’s ok to say you don’t know or you aren’t sure. If you aren’t honest with them about what you want, how can they help you save time and make the process easier?
Get an Estimate Before You Go
There is nothing worse than falling in love with something that you can’t afford.
DON’T tour any venue that doesn’t fit within your budget. It’s like trying on a wedding dress that you can’t pay for: total torture!
Take the time to schedule a quick chat with the venue staff and ask for a quick quote or at least a range. This will let you know if it’s even in the ballpark of what you wanted to spend on the venue.
Start With a Small List
I know it can be exciting to go and see lots and lots of venues. But it can get overwhelming fast. There is only so much time to go and tour.
Choose your top three or four venues from your research and start there. It’s easy to forget the details when you visit too many wedding locations. Start small and then you can always circle back if you haven’t found the right fit.
Make an Appointment
I know, you’re thinking…”DUH!” But you’d be surprised how many people just show up at a venue and then get frustrated when the wedding sales manager isn’t available.
Save yourself a headache (not to mention wasted time) by scheduling a visit in advance. Remember, venues have to schedule their tours around current wedding and event schedules, which isn’t always the most efficient for your time. Some wedding venues, like city-owned facilities, only offer tours Monday through Friday during business hours.
There are a few things you need to know before you go to the venue: a comprehensive guest list, the season you want the wedding, a specific date if you have one, and an idea of your budget. (Read more about where to start)
Also, make a list of questions of what’s most important to you. Are you planning an outdoor ceremony and want to see the backup location? Do you need a place for your out-of-town guests to stay? Being prepared makes it easier to compare apples to apples.
Wedding Planner Tip: Do your research beforehand and scout out some pictures of spaces that you want to see when you tour. – Christy Subler, Anna Christine Events
We know, you have everything kind of planned out in your head before you go shopping. Some couples are so rigid that they walk into a venue and know immediately that it’s not the “exact vision” of what they wanted.
Is the venue over your budget? Consider changing the date or day of the week. Is the venue a bit too small? Think about making an adjustment to the guest count.
When you find the right space that fits your vision, remember to be adaptable.
Bring the Decision Makers
If someone else is footing the bill for the wedding, bring them on the tour! They will appreciate being there and having their questions answered along the way.
Just remember to keep the group as small as possible… you don’t want someone else’s vision of your wedding day getting mixed up into your own. Bring the rest of the friends and family to see the venue AFTER you’ve made your final decision.
What to Wear
Seems like a silly question, right? Remember to wear comfy shoes and to be yourself.
Also, consider the type of venue you are looking at. For example, if you’re touring a country club, there may be a dress code expectation. Just remember to be comfortable while giving the venue a sense of your style and your personalities.
Sneak a Peek Behind the Scenes
Remember to take a look at all of the areas that your guests will interact with.
Start paying attention to the venue from the moment you arrive. What is the drive up like? Is parking convenient? How far away and how many bathrooms are available for guests? Considering these small details on the venue tour prevent future disappointment.
There’s a good chance you’re going to tour a few different venues. Take photos when you are there so you’ll remember what you saw.
Take pictures of the ceremony space, reception spaces, cocktail hour location, ready rooms, after party, ALL OF IT! It’ll be a great reference when you look back.
Wedding Planner Tip: Take lots of photos of the venues you are touring. That way they can check details of what you saw when you are comparing different locations rather than trying to do it all from memory. – Helen Ronchetti, Elegant Weddings
WVM TIP: When you find a ceremony spot that might be the one, take a picture of you and your fiance on that spot. It may just be where you say “I DO”!
Plan Enough Time
Be sure to ask the venue staff how long a tour will take. Some venues are small and can tour the spaces, go through the information, and answer your questions in 45 minutes. A property like a large resort may have multiple options to show you and the site visit might take double that.
Remember to leave time to ask questions and drive time in between if you are seeing more than one venue in a day. You want to be on time for your appointments so that you aren’t rushed and get the full attention of the sales manager.
WVM Tip: Make sure to leave time in your tour day to eat the main meals but also bring snacks and a drink along. Nothing is more distracting when you are trying to listen to someone than when you’re hungry or thirsty.
Make a Connection With the Person at the Venue
It is so important that the venue coordinator understands your vision. They should be spending your time together getting to know you and learning what it’s going to take for you to have your dream wedding. Not every venue is the perfect fit and they may even be able to help refer you to other options.
Be wary of the way you are treated on the tour. If it seems like an inconvenience or they don’t really care about your wedding, this may be how the rest of the planning process is going to be.
Ask For a Final Price Quote
Have you heard of the term “plus-plus”? When it comes to wedding planning, it usually means the service charge and the tax.
Make sure you have the venue staff give you a final quote for everything you want at the wedding, including some things that might be upgrades. This number should include all additional fees or charges…the plus-plus. Don’t forget to ask how much is the deposit and what is the payment plan after that.
Wedding Planner Tip: Ask what’s included in the rental fee. This could be tables, chairs, linens, etc. You don’t want to assume and then have added costs later in the planning because the venue doesn’t come with it. – Caitlin Jones, Plan It Event Design & Management
Don’t Wait Too Long to Decide
Remember that most venues don’t hold dates or spaces without a signed contract and a deposit. You should never feel rushed if you aren’t ready to decide, but don’t plan on it being a 33-month process. Some venues book out 18 – 24 months in advance.
Be a Good Communicator
If you haven’t decided on a venue and you’re still touring other options, let the venue coordinators know if they follow up. Ready to move forward? Tell the venue ASAP. Found a different wedding venue? Contact the previous places that you’ve toured and let them know that you’ve selected a different option.
At whatever stage, just don’t ghost the venue and disappear.
Ready to start your wedding venue search?