How to start your wedding planning NOW

I know that times are uncertain at the moment, but being an eternal optimist I choose to focus on the positive and look ahead to the smell of sweet summer air, never-ending sunsets, and ice-cream truck songs.

If your wedding was postponed or you just starting to plan for your wedding in the future, read on for real-life tips for a fully online (aka quarantine) wedding planning. Yes, some of the wedding planning steps can be taken virtually. Today’s post is on budgeting and choosing a venue.

First things first

Budget right and choose your dream venue.

Talk to your partner and decide if his/her family will contribute and what percentage, then come up with a $ amount that you can and are willing to spend and also a buffer $ amount in case you want to upgrade certain things or services along the way (trust me it happens!)

Once you have that number, divide it in half, that’s the money that you will spend on the wedding venue (food and drinks, the cake is usually included as well, but if you want something unique and custom you will need to use some of that buffer money here.) Once you have your $ number for the wedding venue, divide that number by the number of guests you will be inviting. That’s your per person price. Now comes the fun part, start looking online for your perfect wedding venue, look for real customer reviews, real wedding videos, and photos, cost per guest (although these are rarely accurate when posted online they can give you an idea if the venue you are looking at is in your budget range). You can also use the app 360 Site Visit to tour some venues virtually.

I suggest making a spreadsheet with venue name, address, phone number, and space for your notes and questions to the venue rep. Then start calling or emailing. Here is what you ask them about: 

a) What dates do you have available? (in the season and year that you are looking for)

b) What is your minimum guest count on those dates? Sometimes Friday and Sunday weddings have lower guest count requirements. Early afternoon weddings (12 pm to 5 pm) are also cheaper and have a lower guest count than evening weddings (usually 6 pm to 11 pm).

c) Can I add menu enhancements in lieu of the possibility of not meeting the minimum guest count?

d) What is the price per person ‘plus plus’? (which means that price includes service charge and taxes-that doesn’t mean tips, those will be added on later)

e) Are there any other fees that might be required? (ceremony fee etc.)

f) Are outside vendors allowed? (some venues only use their partner vendors, which in itself might not be bad, but you can’t price shop and you will be forced to spend what they are asking for)

Once you have your sheet completed with all the details, you will be able to make a preliminary decision on which venue would make your heart skip. Give your dream venue a call/send an email and ask what would the next step be. Since we are in a social distancing, they should have a plan in place to possibly take a small deposit until you are able to see the venue in person.

Photo credits in order of posting: Cody Raisig, Samantha Lauren, Joseph Delgado