12 Things To Look For When Selecting A Venue

The business of life is the acquisition of memories.

Mr. Carson / Downton Abbey

I recently met with a couple that has narrowed their venue search down to two hotel resorts.  Since I familiar with both, they asked which I liked better. I felt a tad cornered! I’ve officiated at each many times and I think they will have a better than average experience at each. BUT, I do think one venue is superior to the other – and not for the reason you might think.

Each has spectacular views and each has had weddings that are splashed all over Pinterest and Instagram. However, my impression is that the folks who work at the venue I prefer are happier than those who work at the other venue. 

Huh?  How do I know this? 

Purely observational.  At the venue I recommended, team members are friendly, attentive and consistently one-step ahead of everyone’s needs. Team members at the other venue are good at what they do, but I always have the sense that for them this is a “job.” There is that “something extra” that’s missing from their interactions.

I’ve been thinking about my preference and have been mulling over what is it a couple should be on the lookout for when selecting a venue.

Here is my list of the little and not so little things you want to pay attention to when scoping out a venue for your celebration –

  • When you pull-up to the entrance, is the valet prompt and smiling?  Do you have the sense that they are focused, friendly and interested in helping you?  The valet sets the tone for what awaits you. 
  • If the venue does not provide valet, is the entrance inviting and is parking accessible?
  • What is the venue’s motto?  I know of one hotel whose motto is, “We make the impossible possible.”  And their service reflects that motto!
  • How does the catering manager present themselves?  Does the manager ask questions so as to clarify and refine their sense of you?  Do you feel relaxed in their company?  If not, then bolt!
  • Ask the catering manager, “What do you most enjoy about working here?”
  • Can the venue guarantee that on your wedding date there will be no construction or nearby concerts taking place during your outdoor ceremony?  Does the venue have a “Plan B” if for any reason a Plan B needs to be orchestrated?
  • Is there a special room for the bride?  Concierge service for bride? 
  • Does the catering manager follow-up with you within 24hours?
  • Visit on the day of the week you’ll have your wedding and consider the overall “vibe” of the place.
  • Are you and your guests a personality fit with the venue?  Is this a place where you and your guests can be “you” and not put on airs?
  • What do your vendors say about the venue? 
  • Verify your impressions with reviews found on Wedding Wire or The Knot.