I Do! (Not Know Where to Begin) Month 1: The Venue Hunt


Hi friends!

Jill here again. In case you missed last week’s introduction, I just got engaged and am starting the wedding planning process while sharing all the real time details and steps with all of you! I hope that this can give you some direction in planning your own big day, especially if you’re an everyday girl with an average budget just like me. Today we’re talking all things venue-hunting. Buckle up, because this one has some bumps in the road!

Before we got engaged, our original plan had been a fall 2020 wedding (October 10th to be exact, because how cool would it be to say your anniversary is 10/10/2020?!), but upon engagement we decided to try and get things together for an October 2019 wedding instead. Well, friends, that was probably one of the most stressful weeks of my life. I reached out to 20+ venues, all of which were already completed booked solid for October 2019, many of which already were partially or completely booked for October 2020 as well. On top of dealing with the venue search, we were being overwhelmed with love and support from friends and family -- which is great, don’t get me wrong -- and the chorus of “when’s the wedding?!” already beginning one week in.

Off to venue hunt!

Off to venue hunt!

We hit a point where we pretty much accepted that it was going to be a 2020 wedding and that there was a good chance that it wouldn’t be on 10/10 either. From there, the pieces sort of fell into place. It’s amazing how life works out when you just accept that things will be what they will be! We re-visited our list of venues that we liked, narrowed it down to a handful that were in our ideal budget and location zone and reached out for their availability. For round one, two of the three had 10/10 open and a third had a later October date available, so we set up venue tours.

Melissa, Parsimony’s Owner and Creative Director, impressed on me the importance of viewing multiple locations of different caliber and style to really get a feel for what we want and what our options are. That being said, if you don’t have the budget for a $10,000 venue, don’t go see it. Because chances are you’ll fall in love and then be crushed when you can’t afford it or you’ll compare every other venue to what you saw there. That last condition crossed quite a few options off our list! It’s also extremely important to review what is and isn’t included in your venue fee. Are tables and chairs included, or will you have to rent those separately? Can you bring in whatever vendors you want, or are you stuck choosing from a preferred list? Does the venue host multiple weddings a day, or are you the sole occupant for your day? If catering is only in house, do you have minimum spending amounts? You can download the full list of questions I asked here. The cost of catering can really come into play quickly with your budget as well. Many of the places I started to look at had low venue fees, but astronomical food minimum spending requirements that knocked them out of the running. That’s fine for some people with larger guest lists and budgets, but we just aren’t looking to drop $15,000 on food for one day. This is why it’s really important to know what is included with your venue fees. Is it just for the space, or is catering included? It can be really deceiving to see a venue with a super low fee only to find out something like this where it’s crazy pricing for the in-house catering. Definitely keep that in mind during your venue hunting process!

Exploring venues in person proved to show a huge difference at times from what you see online. It’s almost like house shopping where you look at the space and think “hmm, they must’ve really gotten up into this corner to get a great angle to make this space look so large online.” Smaller spaces, deteriorating conditions at times… it was certainly an eye-opener! Driving all the way out to places, having a great tour, only to be told that they actually aren’t available on the date they said they were, but that they have a Friday open instead. It was definitely a frustrating process at times. After our tours, we had a favorite of the three. It was a beautiful location, checked most of our boxes, was budget friendly, and had 10/10 open. But something just didn’t feel totally right. We took a few days to really think things over and weigh our options. It’s difficult when you feel like you’re up against a clock and dealing with a budget. Was this the best we were going to get for our price point? Can we overlook the things that didn’t really align with our vision for the day? After reaching out to a few more venues, we decided that yes, we thought this was probably going to be our best option, so we asked to see a copy of the contract to start reviewing.

Then, my mom threw us a curveball.

This, my friends, is a perfect example of “it doesn’t hurt to ask.” My mom had mentioned a specific venue to me on multiple occasions and I basically just assumed it was way out of our budget from places in the same area. Well, my mom decided to put in an inquiry to find out some more information. And man, are we glad that she did! Not only did they come in right around (if not slightly under) the same price point of the first option, but it was absolutely beautiful. We immediately set up a viewing to go see it in person. And let me tell you, it did NOT disappoint. Like I said, the price point was right where we wanted it but our dollar went much further at this place. I think it actually checks all the boxes on our list. While it’s a little further out of our initial radius, we easily conceded that point for all the added pros it has over the other locations we looked at. I really think it’s going to be the perfect location for our wedding!

Moral of the story: it doesn’t hurt to ask and never settle! Go with your gut. If it doesn’t feel right, don’t do it. Sure, we would have had a wonderful and beautiful wedding at the first location, but the second place really just blows things out of the water. Ask questions, review your options, and really just don’t give up! Researching a variety is key if you ask me. We went from looking at a big venue that can host up to almost 200 people to a venue specifically designed for smaller, more intimate weddings that max out at 90 people. Not only did the spaces seem to fit what we were looking for more, but because they’re expecting smaller groups, it was priced much more accordingly.

Not only did we find a perfect venue (for us) but we got our date… 10/10/2020. Things have a funny way of working themselves out. All that’s left is to dot the I’s and cross the T’s and we’ll officially have our venue!