When planning what is probably the biggest party of your life, your venue deserves weighted consideration with attention to detail. While often (at least initially) an intuitive decision, there are more than a few practical aspects of planning, you simple can’t afford to overlook. Picking the brains of the professionals behind chic (and immensely popular) New York venue, 501 Union, we wanted to know the best way to approach a venue site inspection and what all-important questions you need to ask to bring your reception ‘vision’ to life...
So you’ve said Yes! and the elation has settled (sort of), and it’s time to start planning for the big day. The first box to check off is the venue. Locking down your venue means you’ve officially got a wedding date and can start diving in deeper to securing vendors and bringing it all together. Maybe you’ve had your eye on a dream venue, or maybe you’re looking at a few different options. It’s a big decision, but don’t fret, we understand your wedding may be the first big event you’ve ever thrown. As one of Brooklyn’s most sought after venues, we’ve got all the inside tips on how to choose the right venue for you and what to ask during your tours.
First you’ll need to have an estimated guest count. Ask the venue for their capacity sweet spot where guests aren't cramped or the space doesn’t feel overwhelming. Then check their website calendar for availability. And then of course, there’s pricing. Venues typically have a tiered price structure based on season and day, so if your dream wedding venue seems out of budget, you never know what could happen if you choose an off-peak date. Saturdays fill up first, sometimes 12-18 months in advance, so if you’re into a Friday bash or chic Sunday brunch wedding then you’ve opened yourself up to plenty more options. Or even consider a dreamy winter wedding!
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How hands-on do you want to be? Is it a full service venue that handles everything from the bouquets to the timeline, or is it a raw space that gives you ultimate creativity in design and flow? See what types of caterers work in the space. Food trucks are a popular option, but not every venue can accommodate them. Some venues have a trusted, dedicated in-house caterer while some offer the freedom to bring in one of your own choosing. That goes for all vendors, too. At 501 Union, we pride ourselves on the flexibility to choose your own vendors to bring your vision to life. One very important question to ask: How many other events will happen on the same day as yours? Do you have a fully private rental, or are you only allowed onsite after another wedding has finished?
A wedding is possibly the first time you will host a large, important event, so you may be surprised to learn all the less-than-glamorous details that go into it. Did you realize you'll need event insurance? Or that it really takes a large team of reception staff to operate the day? Ask the venue what all is included in the rate: number of hours including setup and breakdown, staff, furniture, tableware, and other amenities, and who is responsible for clean up?
We want every couple to feel excited about their venue, so choose one that feels right for your needs and taste. If you just lost the date on your dream venue, take some time off before you visit the next one so you don’t feel like you’re settling. Or if you arrive at your dream venue but start noticing red flags or making a ton of compromises, then it’s likely that things won’t get much easier. You're booking a venue for more than just its aesthetics, but also the people and staff who you need to connect well with in order to make your big day and the planning process run smoothly. Once you've found your perfect venue, congratulations! You're one step closer to marrying the love of your life!