You know what one of my favorite parts of the wedding planning process was? You guessed it: it was picking a venue. Something about getting to walk around fancy properties until I found the “one” was just so much fun—plus, it was an activity my husband (then fiancé) could do with me. And I hope it can be the same for you! I want you to have the best time exploring wherever you are and finding the venue options that are right for you. Take advantage of all the tours, ask all the questions, and don’t forget to take this guide with you. ;)
Why finding the right venue matters
But why does does finding the right venue matter so much? Well, the more you look around the more you’ll realize just how many options there are—and how different each venue can be. You’ll want a place that will cater to your needs: will your guest count fit there? Do they serve food? Do they have tables and chairs? What about decor for you to use? Is there a good place to take bridal portraits or do you need to find a location nearby? What do the surroundings look like, are your guests going to be pleased with what they see? Does it fit your “vibe”? All of these questions are good ones to ask even as you search on websites like TheKnot or WeddingWire, but it’s also important not to judge a book by its cover. Some venues have gorgeous galleries for you to look through, but they’re actually teeny tiny. Some venues struggle with their online presence, but in reality they are underrated gems that shouldn’t be overlooked. I encourage you to visit as many venues in your area as you can just to figure out what you like. The right venue will fit your wedding theme. It will be a cozy, fun place for guests to hang out; and, will be a fun place for you to decorate and to remember marrying the love of your life forever. So it’s pretty important!
What goes into a good venue
It’s also important to know what goes into a good venue. Some of this is up to you and the type of wedding you’re having, but there are a few standards that go across the board for good venue requirements. First of all, you want to like the owner/representative of the venue. When my husband and I were touring venues, there were a few people that we met who made or broke our impression of the place pretty quickly. You want someone who will be flexible to fit your needs, and you also want someone who is nice if I’m being honest. The venue my husband and I ended up going with was made so much better by the owners, who I still talk to from time to time. Their support was amazing from the time we first met, and they were so kind that they went above and beyond what they needed to do to make my wedding day run smoothly.
I’ve mentioned this already, but you also want good surroundings. Obviously the venue itself is important: do you like the ceremony area? Is there space for a reception, and is it roomy enough? What is the foliage like around the property, does it fit your theme? Is there space for pictures? Aside from that though, the drive up to the venue is important too. You may not be totally worried about the area around the venue, and if you aren’t, that’s okay! Personally, a lot of my guests were from out of town and I wanted their impression of my day and where I lived to start on the drive to the wedding. So I payed extra attention to the surroundings on the drive there, too.
Another thing that goes into a good venue is their resources. Do they have caterers on sight, or do they have a list for you to peruse? What about chairs and tables, and decor? What kind of decor is it—does it match your theme? Also look at how much of the property is available to you, as well as professionals the venue has partnered with in the past.
In light of the information I’ve shared already, here is a list of questions you should have ready when you go to tour a venue (besides the one’s I’ve already listed above):
Will your team help set up and break down throughout the wedding day?
What time can my wedding party arrive?
Can we set up the night before?
Do you have a list of trusted professionals I could look at (caterers, bartenders, photographers, coordinators, etc.)?
What is your alcohol policy?
How late can we stay the day of?
Are there candles or sparklers allowed?
Do you have cutlery, glasses, and dishes?
Is there a time we can have a wedding rehearsal?
What do the getting ready spaces look like?
If we have to rent tables and chairs, do you have a recommended business?
Do you have linens?
Can you seat my number of guests?
What is your availability, and how much is the deposit?
How soon do you need final details?
Obviously there are so many more questions that can be asked, but those are a few of the ones I made sure to ask each venue owner that I talked to! Feel free to use this list and expand on it as much as you need.
San Diego venues I love
Los Willows wedding estate https://loswillows.com/
Rancho Guejito https://www.ranchoguejitoweddings.com/
Estancia La Jolla Hotel and Spa https://www.estancialajolla.com/weddings/
Sacred Mountain Julian https://www.sacredmountainjulian.com/
Ethereal Gardens https://trademarkvenues.com/ethereal-gardens/