Frugal Fiancée: Choose Your Wedding Venue

You know those girls who know exactly where they want to get married and what dress they will be wearing? Well, that girl is not me. Venue shopping has been the most fun part of the wedding planning process so far but that does not mean it is an easy task. Here are a few things to think about when searching for your perfect wedding venue.

Before Travis and I were even engaged, I knew I did not want to get married inside a church. I have grown up going to church and still attend church service pretty regularly. With that being said, you can take God anywhere so why not choose a fun venue that reflects our personalities and have one location where both the ceremony and reception can take place?

Talk to your fiance and determine what each of you has in mind for your wedding ceremony and reception. Do you want to get married outside or inside? In a barn or in a museum? If you have a specific theme or idea in mind, you will be able to filter out venues that may not be a good fit during your venue search.

Also, while you are brainstorming, go ahead and create an initial guest list. This will help you determine what size venue you will need. You do not want to fall in love with a venue that cannot support your guest count. This will also help you when you are creating your wedding budget as some venues are all-inclusive and will need an approximate guest count to determine a pricing estimate during your tour.

If you do not already have venues in mind; shortly after you are engaged, I recommend researching. Surprisingly, venues are sometimes booked years in advance so the earlier you start the hunt, the better. The venue we ended up going with already has a few dates in 2020 booked. Can you believe that?!

When you decide what town or area you would like to get married in, you can start looking around that location. There are plenty of helpful resources you can use to do this. I personally used The Knot, Google, and instagram to research venues.

A simple google search will lead you to tons of information. Searching "Charlotte Wedding Venues" or even "NC Wedding Venues" will lead you to wedding websites like The Knot, Wedding Wire, and even local wedding sites. The google search may also pull up local blogs with personal recommendations on venues and vendors. This is a great starting place to see what is out there but can feel overwhelming since it is a lot of information at once.

The Knot provides great information about estimated pricing, amenities provided, and venue capacity. You can also read reviews from other couples who have toured, visited, or had their wedding at the venue you are looking at. The Knot allows you to request a quote through their site or will have a link to the venue's website where you can see contact information.

Isn't it crazy to think that social media is helpful in finding somewhere to get married? I actually found the venue we chose through instagram. I searched different hashtags and then looked at tagged venues and vendors. I loved using instagram during our venue search since you can visually see how the venue looks through the eyes of both guests and vendors. An easy way to search is by hashtag. If you are planning to get married in Charlotte, NC you can search #CLTWedding or #CLTWeddingVenue to get started. This may lead you to other hashtags, vendor pages, recent brides' personal pages and much more.

While you are researching potential venues, create a list of ones that catch your eye. I used a spreadsheet to track venues that we were interested in. Create a venue research spreadsheet and start plugging in your potential venues today. This will help you stay organized and keep all the information for each venue in one place, making it easy to compare your options later.

Every venue website is unique and provides different information. Some websites will lay out pricing and details where everyone can see it while most will require you to contact them for a quote. Your first contact with the venue should not be to schedule a tour, unless you know the venue fits within your guest capacity and budget requirements. When I reached out to venues, I simply said "Good morning, can you provide more information on pricing and availability for a wedding in Spring 2018?" After asking this question, venues will normally send over an information sheet or packet with details about the venue's history, amenities included, and package options. Once you have the pricing and details you can determine if it would be a good fit and schedule a tour if so.

*Before you begin reaching out to wedding vendors, go ahead and create an email address that is dedicated to wedding planning. This way, you will be able to keep all correspondence for vendors and everything wedding-related in one place. Once your wedding is over, you can delete the email address if you would like. This will help keep the junk mail out of your personal email inbox.

Once you have a tour scheduled with a venue, prepare questions and charge your phone. It is important to ask all the questions you have when you are one-on-one with the owner or manager of the venue. You will also want to take pictures and maybe even record conversations you have with staff members so you can go back and remember everything they mention. There are tons of questions you should ask your venue before signing a contract but a few of the most important are:
  • Is our date available? If you can, be flexible with dates. It is harder to find venues available on a specific date than to fall in love with a venue and work out your calendar after. 
  • Does it meet our capacity requirements? If you can't fit your guests inside the venue, it will not work. Do not tour a venue that only holds 100 guests when you have estimated that you will invite 200. 
  • How many bathrooms are there? There should definitely be more than 2 bathrooms available and at least one with handicap accessibility. 
  • Are there catering restrictions? Do you have to use their caterer or can you bring your own? Is there a kitchen available on site or will the catering company need to bring prepared food?
Compare Amenities and Make Decisions
After you have toured a few of your top venues, look at your comparison sheet and start to eliminate venues that are not the perfect match.

If you are looking at both full-service/all-inclusive venues as well as venues where you can bring in your own vendors, you will need to compare services carefully. You can always reach out to rental and catering companies for pricing so you can make the best budget-friendly decision.

It may seem nice that the venue provides everything you need but there is usually a cost associated with this. Read all contracts carefully and be clear on what is and what is not provided before signing anything.

Did you have a hard time finding a wedding venue or was it an easy decision? Did you pick an all-inclusive venue or bing in your own vendors? Let me know in the comments below!

Travel Guide: Charleston

How did you guys spend the 4th of July? My fiancé surprised me with a trip to Charleston for my birthday (July 3rd) and it was awesome. I haven't been to this city in a LONG time so it was nice to visit again. There are so many things going on in this city and you can get explore a lot of it for free!

Since it was a surprise trip, I didn't have the chance to research and plan ahead for things to do and places to eat. We definitely made the most of it and covered a lot of ground during the 4 days we were there.

Frugal Fiancée: Wedding Budget

Remember when I told you guys that I worked for an event planner in college? Well, spending other people's money on weddings was awesome compared to what I am doing now. Having a wedding under $6,000, like pinterest suggests you can, is nearly impossible if you want to have it photographed and feed your guests something other than a McDonalds cheeseburger (the one from the value menu - no you can't even have a big mac). Today I'm sharing a few budgeting tips to keep in mind when creating your initial wedding budget.