Rules of Engagement: Venue
First things first. Before running out and buying the dress you have been eyeing in the magazines for months, or picking your colors, guest favors, and sending out save the dates…you should probably find yourself a venue. I’ve been amazed at how many people I have encountered who have picked out their date but didn’t have a venue selected yet. I am guilty of this myself as I was determined that Chad and I were getting married on October 26, 2012, but had no venue secured. To me it didn’t matter - the date was perfect. Chad’s birthday is April 26th and mine September 26 th, 26 is something we both share and I loved the idea of us adding our wedding date to that list. Plus I wanted a Fall wedding. What is troublesome is that there are so many of us out there who just assume we can pick a date and worry about finding the perfect location later without fretting about its availability because “of course it will be available for me, the stars will align for my perfect day!”
To me prioritizing meant telling my girls that I wanted them in my wedding party, coming up with a color scheme, booking my flight to California and setting up appointments for food tastings, dress fittings and coordinators. Basically, everything I just told you to hold off on doing. The husband is from California and it seemed like a fabulous place to invite our guests to join us for a weekend of fun. I was a little nervous with the idea of leaving our wedding planning in someone else’s hands that lived over a thousand miles away from us. Never mind that California has crazy wildfires in late October and that the Malibu home that I had been eyeing was right on top of a hill where it would surely fall victim to the intense winds blowing smoke everywhere. In addition, my wedding party with their dates had grown to 26, this was having a big impact on accommodation options. Oh! I can’t forget to mention that our budget seemed to be getting bigger and bigger as everything in California was 2x times more expensive than Texas. Which meant we would have to seriously cut our guest list (in half). Needless to say my first two months into engagement were not going so well. It was a Lindsay cluster.
So, we regrouped, re-prioritized and looked at Austin venues. We discussed what was important to us - what mattered. Chad and I lived in Houston at the time and had fallen in love with the Texas Hill Country when we had traveled to visit my parents who lived near Lake Travis. The idea behind California was that we would give guests a unique Californian destination experience in a beautiful location. Think ray-bans & beach boys. This meant that our Austin venue must: fit at least 150 people, mesh with the Hill Country/ Austin vibe and allow us to hire outside catering/vendors in order to save costs. If we were going to be having guests come to the Hill Country, we wanted to treat them to a real Texas Hill Country experience. So Mom and I hit Google and searched for days to find venues in and around Austin (smartest decision we made.) The next weekend Mom, Chad, and I went and toured our favorites. After about 10 minutes at VWR, we knew it was the venue - it was perfect.
However, VWR did not have anything in October available, and I mean nothing - no Fridays, Saturdays or Sundays. In fact they didn’t have a single open day for the rest of 2012 and it was only February. I remember my mouth hitting the floor with astonishment that they were booked so far in advance and recall being slightly confused when I didn’t immediately say “ok, thanks anyway” but instead asked “so, when is your next available Saturday?”
Suddenly the date was inconsequential, I had found something I wanted more. I needed a Saturday, because we wanted to host our guests for the entire weekend - everyone was traveling in from out of town. VWR was already booked into the summer of 2013 and we jumped at the first available day, Saturday, June 8, 2013. We booked on the spot. The minute I signed that contract I felt like the slate was washed clean and I was given the opportunity to start fresh from the mistakes I had been making. And that felt fabulous. Don’t make the same mistake. Find your perfect place before you pick your date. You will be much happier in the end.
Things to ask yourself when selecting a venue:
- Do you love it?
- Do you have flexibility in the time of year you want to get married or year?
- Is it realistic for your budget?
- Will it work for your needs?
If you answered NO to any of the above, it may not be the place for you.
It’s important to have a general idea about what you want to spend on your wedding, but as a general rule, this likely will change. Before allocating your budget determine your venue and then move forward from there. Keep in mind the venue is the stage for your wedding. I'll cover budgets next time!
FYI- Mark your calendars! VWR is having a winter open house on January 4, 2014! Come
& visit with me and tour the venue. Enjoy delicious drinks & eats and amazing vendors will be in attendance to meet!
If you have any questions just ask! I’d love to hear from you!