We have all heard of the classic phrase “you don’t know what you don’t know”, right? Well, I don’t know about you, but when it comes to the most special day of your life- that isn’t the motto I want to live by. As a professional planner, I never want my clients to feel as if they didn’t have the answer to something imperative in the planning process, just because they didn’t know what to ask. Insert venue inspection template guide here 😉
Last week we discussed the importance of priorities in our Tip of the Hat Blog Post; Choosing the right Wedding Venue. Now that you have had a chance to get those priorities established, let’s dive into the venue inspection template I use as a foundational element in my planning toolbox. When you have narrowed down your venue options, the answers to these questions will help you make important decisions and will serve as a guide for venue-specific details that are needed throughout the entire planning journey.
A venue inspection checklist includes things like accessibility, appearance, indoor facilities, measurements, vendors, rules and requirements, and accommodations. Yeah, you say “those are the topics you should always cover when selecting a vendor”, well yes of course, but my venue inspection checklist truly delves into each category in very specific detail, nestled in the frame of mind that no detail is too minor. My extensive venue inspection checklist is inclusive of over 125 line items to take into consideration. I know, I know, it sounds mundane, but this ensures imperative details such as tax and service charge potential, permits, corkage, measurements, restrictions, and capacities don’t get overlooked. While I will not uncover the entire template on today’s blog (stay tuned for a freebie coming soon [ ; ), I do want to arm you with critical thoughts and questions to have in your back pocket as you make your way to signing the venue contract dotted line.
Let’s dive in!!!!
Appearance: Appearance is a big one. Likely, if you have this venue in your final venue selections, it is probably safe to say that you are a fan of the overall appearance of the venue. But let’s be real- that’s just surface talk, let’s go deeper!!
When you are walking around the venue, how does it make you feel? Are there comfortable walking paths on the property accessible to all the property grounds, are the clocks set to a current time, or have the batteries been dead for a year? How does the parking lot look; well kept or is there trash that needs to be picked up? These answers will give you a pretty keen insight as to what to expect behind the staged pretty google pictures.
By the end of the visit, you should evaluate the overall condition, standard, and cleanliness of the property. Think about how it compares with other venues you’ve seen.
Don’t forget to ask about and consider future renovations and developments at your potential venue. I have seen it happen when a venue remodels midway thru a couple’s planning process at the very space the couple had fallen in love with (sometimes with no notice at all to the couple), changing it from say a beautiful white blank canvas space to a full-out modern-day barn space. Not. the. Same. And you don’t want to be blinded by this kind of change. It is not an inexpensive fix.
Rules and Requirements: Okay, I know I know – No one likes rules and if you are anything like my husband, you may be thinking “rules are made to be broken”. LOL- He is a big kid 🙂 Seriously though, these are important rules and were actually made for a reason and against contrary belief, not made to be broken. So, here are some of the rules we are talking about; Are you allowed to bring in an outside caterer? If not, are there in-house tastings provided? Is there an F&B minimum? Are you limited on bar options? Is the cake included or can that be outsourced?
Noise Restrictions are another big one! Are there any noise restrictions? Does the sound have to end at a certain time? Does that time vary from outdoor to indoor space? Are there decimal restrictions? Is there a limit on the number of band crew members in a certain space? Are there available AV units on-site?
Your send-off is also one of the big areas that I would suggest understanding the rules on. Is it your dream to have a big sparkler send off underneath a show of fireworks? It is absolutely possible, but it certainly isn’t as simple as Cinderalla makes it look. More often than not, there are restrictions when you are playing with fire. 😉 Your venue may have restrictions on things such as real/fake flower petals, candles, balloons, sparklers, confetti, etc. It is better to know up front rather than buy a bunch of goodies to send you on as Mr. and Mrs., all for them to be against the rules and a waste of your hard-earned dollars!
Vendors and Facilities: Your wedding day is made up of a dream team, specific to your day. It is important to know who is required or preferred from the venue’s perspective. Who are you allowed to bring/hire in? Remember in this case, sometimes more is not the merrier. Trying to get 27 individual companies on the same page, who have never worked together before, for a large-scale event, is a challenge. not one that can’t be accepted, but it is, in fact, a challenge. The vendors on your venue’s preferred list are oftentimes vendors who have worked there in the past, are familiar, and have mutual respect and trust. While these attributes may not seem like a big deal – I PROMISE YOU they are! Knowledge is power in this case and when you are familiar with something or someplace or lack knowledge in that territory, it can increase time and raise unproductivity levels.
Think of it like cooking your favorite recipe in your own kitchen; by the third time you have cooked that recipe, you have it nailed down, are smooth sailing, and are just tweaking things that add value. Verse the opposite situation such as cooking the recipe for the very first time, at your friend’s house in their kitchen; That’s more like trying to figure it out on the fly in unfamiliar territory. Make sure whatever team you have hired, is NOT going to be seeing the venue for the first time on YOUR Wedding Day!! Other things to consider here are what may be included with the venue or what you will need to hire? Does the price include tables, chairs, floor-length linens, stage, dancefloor, av equipment, etc? These things do add up as you stack them on as additional expenses, so understanding this cost upfront will be your friend throughout the planning journey.
While again, this is not the all-inclusive venue inspection template, I do truly hope it gives you some profound insight on top priority areas that will get your brain moving in the productive research phase leading you one step closer to saying YES to the Wedding Venue of your dreams!!!
Stay tuned on the blog to grab your very own free copy of the printable venue inspection template. You can print it out and take it with you on venue tours, serving you as a helpful resource while you make big decisions in the wedding planning journey ♥