Updated: Nov 13, 2020
Congratulations, you're engaged!! You've got the ring, the magical memories, and the amazing Insta posts to prove it wasn't all just a dream. Now what? Well for most couples, the first step is picking the venue, where all the magic will happen! In Orlando, as in most cities around the country, there are a LOT of venues to choose from, and it can be overwhelming. But that's why this blog is happening, to take the stress out of choosing a venue! Without further ado, here are 5 things to consider when choosing where to get married!
1. It has to feel right! This seems obvious, but your wedding is about you, celebrating with your friends and family, and having the best day ever. You will get a lot of well-meaning advice and "help" from those around you, which can be overwhelming at times, but remember that what you want is the most important consideration. So the place where all that happens just has to feel good, like home or your favorite destination, wherever you can let go and live in the moment. Maybe that's a barn, a manor, a castle, or just the beach, and you may discover there's more than one place that works for you. Once you get that feeling of being in the right place, though, all the other work and choices you have to make will seem well worth it as you visualize your big day !
2. Is it the right size? Now that we just told you about all the magical feels you will have when you set foot on the right property, it's time to get practical. And the most basic question, is it big enough for your wedding? If your wedding will be a smaller, more intimate affair with 60 guests, you don't have much to worry about, as almost any venue will work. But if you're inviting 300 of your closest friends, you're going to have way fewer options. There are some venues that have multiple areas on site (Mission Inn Resort for example), so if you fall in love with a particular place, ask the sales folks if they can make it work for a super large party. Chances are, with a golf course or large resort, you'll have options that work for any size. But if you have your heart set on a smaller place, you may need to pare down the guest list a bit!
3. Price (and what's included)! This may seem obvious, but it's important to take into account how much your dream venue will cost, and if you can afford it! We've grouped this in with "what's included" because that can really affect your bottom line. If a venue is more than you are budgeting for, but includes chairs, linens and has in-house catering, that certainly changes your calculus. On the flip-side, if a venue seems really cheap, make sure you ask for everything they include. Once you add up rentals and other stuff that may not come with the venue, you may find the pricier venue is actually a better deal.
Don't be afraid to ask questions and ask for a written estimate that details everything the venue gives you for the wedding day. That may or may not include a wedding coordinator (more on that soon), tables and chairs, linens, bar service and catering. If bar service and catering are included, be sure to ask about minimum amounts you must spend, and check out what's on tap. If you want a particular drink or craft beer they don't keep, will they get it for you or do you have to choose from their standard stuff. Do you even like their food offerings, and will you get a chance to taste it before you commit? Do they have the color linens you want, and are you allowed to get them from another vendor? Do you love their chairs, or would you need to rent covers to make them fit your vision? A lot of questions to be sure, but it's all part of the math, and it really pays to do your homework on this part!
4. Space and spaces! Something that is often overlooked when selecting a venue is getting-ready spaces. Will your bridal party fit in the space provided, along with all the dresses, hair and makeup artists, and family members stopping in to see you? Is there space for the guys to do their thing too? Are there any spaces at all, or will you be getting ready at home or a hotel? We have seen hundreds of venues over the years, and everyone is different with respect to these spaces. We've actually seen the accommodations for the guys be larger than the bridal suite!
So don't be afraid to ask for a full tour, see the space for yourself, and ask what kind of modifications can be made. Can they move out some of the furniture if it's cramping your style? If there is not a wet bar in the room, can they bring in a rolling cart to keep your people refreshed throughout the time you will be preparing for the festivities? And does the venue provide a butler or attendant that can help you throughout the day? These are all important considerations, and may even swing your choice to a venue you hadn't anticipated booking!
5. Wedding Coordinator or Venue Manager? Surveys of couples planning their weddings have shown that the first or second vendor they choose is their wedding coordinator/planner, with the other one being the venue. If you decided to choose your venue first, keep in mind that some will include a "month-of" coordinator while some just offer a venue manager. What's the difference, you ask? A venue manager is only concerned with the venue itself, generally making sure the lights are on and the building is ready for your event. They will not help you plan your wedding, or line you up for your ceremony, or set out your decor. Their concern is the building and only the building. An example of that here in Orlando is Dr. Phillips House. You must hire your own coordinator to do all the logistical things that turn your wedding into the stress-free dream day you've imagined. Some venues will offer an actual coordinator, however, who will work with you during the lead-up to your wedding, learn all the details of your decor and ceremony, and be there the day of to make sure everything runs smoothly. Basically what every coordinator does, it just happens that they are part of the package you get with those particular venues. Dubsdread and Highland Manor are a great example of this, as they employ true coordinators so you don't need to shop for one on your own. If you choose a venue that only has a venue manager, you're probably getting ready to start looking for a coordinator, and wondering what to consider. You're in luck, as our next blog entry will be about exactly that. Check back here soon for that one! So now you have a lot more to think about and keep in mind when choosing your perfect wedding venue. Take a look at our main blog page to see profiles of some of Orlando's most prominent and well-loved venues, and get in touch with us if you have any questions about them or the services we offer! See you back here soon for more!
*All photos credit of their owners/photographers. *There is no paid advertising in this article. All vendors we mention by name are because we have worked with them and trust them to be a good resource for anyone planning a wedding in Orlando.