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Wedding 101: Finding Your Venue and Vendors

Image Credit: Joe Payne Photography at The Oaks at Salem

Wedding 101 is a series that we have created to help with all your wedding planning needs. Part three takes an in-depth look at venues and vendors, and the questions you should keep in mind while searching for the ones you want for your special day.

Your wedding day is one of the most important days of your life, so of course you would want it to be as perfect as possible. You can envision exactly how you want it, but how do you bring this vision to life? How will you find the venue of your dreams? Who will help make your wedding perfect? In this article, we will take an in-depth look at picking your venue and choosing your vendors.

Picking the Right Venue for You

There are a variety of venues out there, and they all are operated differently. Some operate year round while others only operate during peak seasons, which are normally April to June and September to November. Some venues will have weddings any day of the week or perform multiple weddings a day, but other venues will only do one wedding on the weekends. It really all depends on the size of their staff and if the venue is strictly used for just weddings, or if it is used for other events as well.

The venue you choose should be a testament to who you are as a person and the things you like. When searching on, try searching for venues using keywords that could be used to describe you or things you like. Words like rustic, elegant, beach, and outdoor can bring up thousands of choices. When searching for venues, try to narrow your search down to your top 3-5 choices. These venues are the ones you will tour and get a closer look at. While searching for venues and touring them, try to keep these questions in mind:

Does the venue fit your budget?

Are they a good match for you as a person and your interests?

Is it available for any of your potential dates?

Can the venue be used for both your ceremony and reception or just one or the other?

Does the venue have the space for the number of people you invited?

Is the venue all-inclusive, have a list of preferred vendors, or can you choose any vendors?

Do they have a deposit and payment plan you can use?

Is there on-site parking?

How many hours or days are you able to use the venue? Is there a charge for extra time?

What services are you paying for, and are there any extra fees or services you could pay for?

Is there an inclement weather plan?

Is there an onsite coordinator? Will they be there the day of? When can you meet them?

Are there any restrictions when it comes to decorations?

Does the venue provide anything in terms of decorations, tables, chairs, tablecloths, plates, silverware or will you need to bring these things?

Is alcohol allowed at the venue? If so, is it provided by the venue or does it have to be provided by you or the caterer?

Will you need to provide event insurance?

If something were to occur, is there a way to change the date of the event or to cancel the event?

If you have guests with disabilities, is the venue able to accommodate them?

Choosing Your Vendors

Vendors are the next in your search for your big day. The main ones you may be looking for are a caterer, florist, baker, photographer, DJ/entertainment, and hair/makeup. While searching for your venue on, you may also look at the partner’s section and find all your vendors that are local to your area. Some venues are all inclusive and have everything you need on site, and others may provide a list of vendors that they recommend for you to use. You want to make sure that all your vendors are approved by your venue and that the venue allows them to be there. Just like you did with your venues, it is best to pick a couple of potential vendors to talk to. Make sure to schedule tastings with your potential bakers, try to tour the nurseries of your possible florists, check out the photographers’ and beauticians’ portfolios, and look at the menus for all the caterers. Here are a few questions to keep in mind while looking for vendors:

Are the vendors able to envision the same thing as you?

Does the caterer charge per person, or have an overall general price?

Are you interested in a buffet style reception or providing menus?

Does the caterer provide h’orderves during cocktail/social hour?

Does the caterer provide alcohol and a bartender to serve it?

Does the caterer provide plates, tablecloths, silverware, and glasses?

Will the caterer serve food or will it be self-serve?

Can the caterer and baker provide food and cake for those with allergies?

Are there any hidden fees or service fees that you may have to pay for?

Does the photographer provide services for engagement photos and bridal portraits, or just service for the wedding day?

What style of photography are you looking for?

Do you want a videographer as well as a photographer?

Do you want a traditional cake or something different?

How many bouquets, corsages, and boutonnieres do you need?

Will the florist deliver the flowers or will they need to be picked up?

Do you want a variety of flowers or just a few?

Are you interested in a DJ or live entertainment?

Using these questions when searching for venues and vendors will help you make your choices easier. The venue and the vendors are the parts that your guests are more likely to remember, so it is best not to rush your decisions. Try to make sure they are a good fit for you and your partner and it will make the day even more special!

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