Finding a wedding venue is one of the first steps you’ll take in your wedding planning. And it can be overwhelming! Austin and the surrounding area has numerous wedding venues to choose from, each with its own special charm and amenities.
Once you’ve narrowed down the list to your favorites, it’s time to start visiting each one to find your ideal fit. The process is time consuming, but crucial.
It helps to know in advance how to make your venue tours productive, helpful and smooth. So we recently sat down with Erika Tucker, Event Sales Director at Vintage Villas. She shared her best tips to make your venue tours effective.
Avoid wasting time and breeze through your venue tour with her expert advice!
#1 – Make a Guest List
Creating a guest list in advance may seem like a daunting task, but it’s an important first step in your wedding planning.
Erika explains, “Most couples only have a vague idea of their guest count. Making a list now helps immensely.”
And writing down your guest list may not take as long as you think. Start with family members, move on to close friends and add the rest. Remember, you aren’t sending invitations just yet. If there are a few unsure additions, you’ll have plenty of time to negotiate later on. But you’ll be miles ahead of most couples to a real guest count.
#2 – Know Your Non Negotiables
When you’re buying a home, realtors recommend you each make a list of your must-have, must-nots, and non-negotiables. Erika advises that you do the same for your wedding venue.
“The idea is to avoid surprises,” says Erika. One of you may have your heart set on a beautiful view, the other wants onsite lodging. Believe it or not, Erika tells us many couples haven’t had these conversations in advance to understand what the other envisions for the wedding.
For example, Vintage Villas has an incredible view that is truly unique. If a great view is crucial to how you picture your outdoor wedding ceremony, be sure to tell your fiance. That way, you can strike wedding venues like downtown hotels off your list.
Take the time to have an honest conversation in advance to make your venue tours productive.
#3 – Know Pricing in Advance
Before you head into an hour-long wedding venue tour, you want to know what you’re getting into price-wise. And we don’t just mean a copy of the wedding packages
One detail lets you know the team at Vintage Villas is experienced and knowledgeable, is that they create a detailed proposal and estimate for every couple prior to their venue site visit.
“We want couples to be sure, up front, what their bottom line looks like to host a wedding at Vintage Villas,” says Erika. An experienced team will do that before you ever step into the ballroom.
There are many variables when it comes to the cost of your wedding. For example, Vintage Villas is an all-inclusive wedding venue that includes catering, bartending, linens and staff. The price you receive is a turnkey price for all services.
If you are looking at a wedding venue that doesn’t include catering, your estimate will only be a portion of the total reception cost.
Some wedding venue locations, like Vintage Villas, have onsite lodging as well. If you are wanting a wedding weekend experience, or the ease of staying onsite, ask for rates up front to be added to your quote.
Once potential couples are onsite for their wedding venue tour, Erika and her team ensure everyone has a copy of their estimate and understands the details.
#4 – Don’t Bring a Crowd
We get it – you love your bridal posse. They’ve planned a memorable bridal shower and are shelling out the big bucks on a bachelorette party in Cancun.
But this isn’t the time to bring the entire gang along.
If you want a productive wedding venue tour, keep the attendees to only that are a vital part of the decision-making process. “You want people who are crucial to the process,” says Erika. This means the couple getting married and anyone else who has a financial stake in the final decision.
“Finances are going to be discussed in detail,” reminds Erika, “so only bring those who will be a part of the open dialogue about cost.” This advice quickly narrows down the list. And a smaller group means a more productive meeting.
This may mean only you and your fiance attend your venue tours if no one else is financing your wedding. But that doesn’t mean your friends and family should feel left out. Remind them that once you choose your ideal wedding venue, you’ll have plenty of follow up walkthroughs for design and planning. And that’s where they can help the most.
#5 – Keep a Checklist for “After” Conversations
There are numerous little details that may arise during your wedding venue site visit. Ceremony elements. Reception flow. Even where to seat Great Grandma.
You won’t, and can’t, decide all of that in one venue site visit. Stick to the task at hand and focus on asking pertinent questions about the venue, understanding the amenities and discussing costs.
Erika recommends keeping an ongoing “Questions Checklist” during your venue site visit on all those little details that come up. The questions will need to be asked and decisions made at some point, so keep a separate piece of paper exclusively to write these questions down, and put them aside for later.
#6 – Find an Expert…and Trust Them!
Vintage Villas has been in business since 1997, and they know weddings. They’ve seen it, they’ve done it, and they’ve made it all happen.
There’s a certain level of peace and comfort that comes from working with a wedding venue that is not only beautiful, but has a solid reputation.
When you meet with Erika or one of her team members for your site visit, they will already be familiar with you and your wedding. They can picture the flow of the event from start to finish, and can help you navigate any potential pitfalls.
Visit the Vintage Villas website to learn more about their wedding services.