Looking for the right wedding professional for your Austin wedding can be a challenge, and the wedding venue is among the first decisions you’ll need to make. When brides and grooms begin considering where to host their wedding, it’s not surprising for the list of potential locations to span a large range.
With or Without Ceremony Location
First things first – do you need an onsite ceremony location?
Couples hosting both their wedding ceremony and reception in one location has boomed in recent years. And it’s no wonder why. It’s convenient, you skip the hassle of driving from one location to the next, and the day’s activities aren’t stretched out. If this appeals to you, look for a venue that includes a ceremony location. You’ll find this common in venues built exclusively for weddings. However, downtown ballrooms and hotels will often have great ceremony options available. If the ceremony space isn’t exactly what you envisioned, ask plenty of questions about what your decorator or wedding consultant can bring in to modify the space.
Outdoor ceremony spots mean breathtaking pictures and fresh air and are found often at Hill Country venue locations. Still, you’ll always need to consider the alternative. Make sure you have an appropriate weather backup for your ceremony location that you are comfortable and happy with. You never know when skies will go gray.
Many couples will still utilize their local church for their ceremony, or even have a smaller ceremony in a separate location and invite the larger crowd to the reception. This means you’ll only need to consider what the potential venue means in terms of your reception.
If you don’t utilize the ceremony location on premise, check with the venue representative to see if that location will be sold separately to another couple and if there is any impact on your reception.
Catering On of Off Premise
Back in your BWP days (i.e. Before Wedding Planning), you may have never known the difference between “on and off premise” catering. That’s all about to change.
On premise catering means the venue has their own catering, or in some cases an exclusive caterer that resides onsite. This gives couples the added convenience of having to source one less wedding vendor in Austin. You’ll also easily be able to calculate the total price of your venue and catering, the two largest pieces of your total wedding budget. Many venues with on premise catering, such as hotels, wrap the price of the ballroom into the per person catering price, further simplifying the process.
A venue that does not provide catering services will require you to find an off-premise caterer. This would be any catering company that can bring the food to the venue location. Many venues will have an Exclusive Caterer List that you must choose from. Or alternately, they may have a Preferred Caterer List that gives suggestions but still allow alternate caterers. Even if a venue allows caterers that aren’t on their Preferred Caterer list, we recommend to start with their suggestions. Those caterers will be familiar with the do’s and don’ts of each venue, their kitchen layout and any quirks that may make catering at that location unique.
Before you book an alternate caterer, be sure they are familiar with the venue and get a firm price. You don’t want to find out you’ll be getting extra fees because of the distance of the venue, or lack on onsite equipment that makes catering more challenging.
We recommend deciding in advance if you’re looking for a venue that includes catering or not. This will help you narrow down your selections and final the final 3 or 4 venues you want to tour.
City or Hill Country
When looking for a venue in the Austin area, there’s one unique decision area couples need to make – city or Hill Country.
The Hill Country is a spectacular location for a wedding in the Austin area. You get all the views and all the Texas feels. The venue locations for the Hill Country range from the rustic to the graceful. These locations offer wide, open spaces and beautiful photos.
When considering a Hill Country venue for your wedding, consider not only the look and feel of the wedding reception you’re looking for, but ease of planning and convenience of your guests. Venues further out of town may pose challenges if you are the type who wants to visit in person often. There may be additional logistics you’ll need to consider for a remote location such as transportation and restroom facilities. Having a wedding coordinator will help alleviate some of these concerns. Additionally, consider the impact on the guests. You’ll want to ensure you find some type of onsite or nearby overnight accommodations for those not comfortable driving long distances back home at night.
A wedding within the city can be a great choice for couples looking for elegance and convenience. You’ll find sophisticated ballrooms and urban garden spaces among the many Austin wedding venue choices. City weddings mean guests are close to the wedding venue. This is especially helpful for out of town guests. Choosing a city wedding may mean less costs for other wedding professionals such as florists and photographers who won’t have to drive as far. Still, a city wedding may come with certain restrictions. You may have had your heart set on a fireworks finale or ending the night with sparklers which may not be allowed in a city venue. In addition, city venues, especially downtown ones, typically charge for parking.
Go With Your Gut
A pro/con list will be extremely helpful in choosing the right venue for your wedding. Still, at the end of the day once you’ve considered all aspects, don’t forget to trust your instincts.
When you’ve narrowed down your list to your final three or four venues, the next step is to visit the potential venues. Onsite you’ll be able to take in the condition of the venue, the friendliness of the staff, and meet the person you’ll be working with. Take note of how comfortable you feel in the space and with the people you’ll be working with. Observe how quickly your venue contact responds to email questions and if they do a nice follow up after the initial visit. Your gut can tell you how much you’ll enjoy working with the team at each particular venue.