So I already wrote ½ of this, I’ve learned my lesson: must ALWAYS save.
Venue. That’s what I was writing about… I think.
Venues can have different significance to different people. Some people put the venue as a lower concern when planning their wedding. There are other things they would rather worry about and spend their money on. Fore-warning: I am not one of those people. In my opinion, the venue can determine many factors of your wedding, thus it is a very important aspect.
As mentioned previously, some brides have a specific venue in mind and nothing else will do for them. It is their first priority. If this is you, book your venue now and work around it. Some brides will pick everything else, set all that in stone, and choose their venue around that. Like I said, not me.
I’m one of those brides right in the middle. While the venue is VERY important to me, I will try to determine other factors of my wedding (I’ll get into those factors in a moment), choose my venue around those loose guidelines, then firm the other details once the venue is booked.
James and I are on the same page for a lot of things in this wedding (which is great! I don’t think I could marry him otherwise, if we can’t agree on the silly wedding things, we aren’t going to be able to agree on a lot in our marriage). We are both looking for a location where we can be close to greenery and nature, we both love the history behind things (see: Breanne got James’ grandmother’s ring), and we’re both…frugal. I was going to say cheap, but cheap is something different. We want quality and we’re willing to pay for quality, but we like to pay the least amount for quality. Like with chips. We don’t buy the no name all dressed chips because they are less expensive, we want the quality chips, we want ruffles all dressed but we don’t want to pay full price because they’re like $1.50 more than the no name – so we wait until they’re on sale.
That was a weird analogy… but you get the point. We’re not going to sacrifice quality when we know what we want, and some times we can get what we want on sale!
So before we really started venue research we determined a few things about our wedding. We made a list of ALL the people we would like to invite if we had an infinite budget, we figured out what food we wanted (tacos FTW), we kind of have an ideal wedding timeline in our heads (get ready, photos, ceremony, reception, leave, everyone cleans up for us), and we figured that we wanted the ceremony and the reception close enough to each other that all of our out of town relatives wouldn’t have to find TWO Vancouver locations.
With all these factors in mind (and a little organization of the guest wish list; we’ll talk about guests in the next post) we started searching for a venue. There are a lot of different ways to find awesome venues and with social media you have so many tools at your disposal. Word of mouth is the best way to start your search. You have an idea of what you want and what you don’t want and you start asking local family and friends and even co-workers if they have any suggestions based on these wants. Look into EACH venue if you’re not familiar with it. The name may throw you off, but you never know where the gems are hiding.
Also use any local social media page you are subscribed to. Create a post asking for great suggestions to help you out with your venue scavenger hunt. I’m part of a group called “Girl Gang” on Facebook which is a group of professional women who help each other and use this platform to advertise, to get help with work, among other things. Some times they host workshops that can help you develop some great skills (like negotiation, best 2 hours spent, I can talk James into anything now!). I posted about my engagement on their page and let them know we were on the search for some great venues close to nature and I threw in some descriptors – barn/farm, historical, lower mainland, etc. From this I learned about 10 more venues I had never heard of (and I work in the events industry). I have also looked into some of my work files to see venues we’ve delivered to before, and I’ve used Weddingful. Weddingful is a great resource! It has all sorts of venues and vendors on it. You can find great photographers, caterers, florists, bakers, etc. I will probably mention it a few more times, because that’s how wonderful I find it.
Using all these resources, James and I have compiled a list of venues we’re open to. From there, you need to do some site surveys. THIS IS VERY IMPORTANT! No photo is going to properly convey how awesome (or crappy) a venue is. Case in point: James and I went to look at a venue last weekend. It was a farm that I fell in love with by looking at photos and it just so happened to be James’ friend’s farm (which was a crazy awesome coincidence). This was the venue I wanted. I wanted to get married with this barn behind me.
When we showed up, it was small. Too small and crowded for our minimum number of guests. While it was a beautiful farm with a lot of love put into every square foot, it was not a good venue for us. I quickly fell out of love. The photos had conveyed a much larger venue and the only way we could make this work for us was to put up a tent, and I don’t want to get married in a tent (I’m a great tent sales person, I know). While I will recommend a tent to anyone who wants everything to be out doors because you NEED a rain plan that will make you happy – we’re in Vancouver, it rains all the time, sometimes even in the summer – and you don’t want to be the last person on the tent band wagon your wedding weekend, tents book out fast! Nothing is sadder than a bride with a bad rain plan she hates.
That farm will not work for us, even though the photos made me believe otherwise.
Moral of the story: ALWAYS CHECK THE VENUE BEFORE BOOKING! If you are getting married away from where you live, take a short vacation to the city where your wedding will be held, and look at venues and meet with vendors. MAKE SURE YOU GET EXACTLY WHAT YOU WANT.
Another point I mentioned was we knew what food we wanted. You’re wondering why this matters. Oddly enough, the food is going to be part of what determines your venue. If you already know what caterer you’re going to use (some people have friends who cater, some people REALLY want BBQ, and some want a taco bar), you have to choose a venue who doesn’t have a set caterer. Most hotels, for example, require you use their caterers, no outside food allowed except maybe the wedding cake. And there are venues with exclusivity rights with a caterer, like most University of BC venues. Out at UBC, for the most part, you are required to use Wescadia, their exclusive caterer. If you don’t care too much about the food, have a price point in mind – how much are you willing to pay, per person, for food. Typically caterers charge in the range of $30/pp for weddings. When doing a site inspection, ask if they have an exclusive caterer. If they do, be sure to ask for a menu and ask if there’s any flexibility on the menu – can they make you that curry you’re dying to eat on your wedding night? I’ll get more into food later, but James and I knew we wanted to do our own catering and we wanted a Taco Bar. Because of this, we have to find a venue who allows outside catering.
Capacity is also a big deal. DO NOT fall in love with a venue that only holds sixty when your families alone amount to 90! There are so many venues we’re finding that we like that just won’t fit out numbers. James and I both have large immediate families. All these adult first cousins we grew up with who have kids and significant others and you can’t just invite a married cousin without their SO!
I will be sure to update you all as we make our decisions about these very important topics. Things we have decided so far:
- We like Tacos
- We are getting married in April 2017 (HE FINALLY SAID YES!)
- We are not going to wear yellow gold rings
- We want our ceremony outside (regardless of weather) and our reception indoors
- Lego is the best theme ever
- We’ll both have 5 attendants before the flower girl and ring bearer
- We’re getting married in the lower mainland
- We want our parents as involved as possible because it’s not JUST about us, we’re joining two families
You and I will talk soon! Next up on the docket – GUEST LISTS!
If you ever have any questions about our wedding or planning a wedding, please feel free to post in the comments and I will be happy to answer!