Wedding Wednesday: Venue Tours - Planning, Experiences and Tips
This past weekend, Mike and I traveled out to Chattanooga to take some venue tours! Being that we are beginning planning in a town we do not live in yet, we had to fit everything into one 24 hour period. This also means that we had to make this time count as we won’t be back in town before we need to make a decision.
I did a lot of research on venues beforehand. I looked at venues and pricing in 4 different cities, approximately 40 venues, before narrowing down to the city where we can get the best experience for our money. Once we narrowed down to Chattanooga, I searched all venues in the area and picked about 10 I liked. From there, we narrowed the venues down by features we wanted and location to come up with our final 5 venues.
These 5 venues were the places we chose to see on our trip. I emailed the venues two weeks in advance, explaining that we were not from nearby and we were coming into town for one weekend and wanted to see their venue. We were very lucky that all 5 venues emailed back with different times that would work for them and us.
Our longest tour was 45 minutes and involved a full walkthrough of the venue and a personalized quote explanation in the office. One tour was 20 minutes, only 10 of which was with the venue director as she was elbows deep in setting up for a wedding about to arrive. She answered our questions and then gave us free reign to look around and see whatever we wanted.
Now you may be thinking that the more involved tour left a better impression than the other, but you would be wrong. In fact, of those two venues, we are continuing to look at the short toured venue!
We saw two venues fully set up for a wedding, two only partially set up and one completely empty.
One venue gave us a full folder with information, one gave us a couple sheets of features and menus, the other three gave us nothing.
While I asked at every venue, all were very comfortable with me taking photos.
All the people we met with were very lovely, but there were definitely a couple we immediately were drawn to more than others because of their knowledge and their “tell it like it is” mentality.
I found it interesting to see all the different styles of tours we were given. From the overly organized and almost scripted to the “here’s the space, what questions do you have”. You can tell those that are really pushing their product and those that want to focus on you or even just let their space do the talking.
Overall it was a very eye opening experience and I am glad we saw the venues in person. It really gave us a feel for the space and you got to experience some facts of the location you would not see online, such as if one had an enormously steep and rather dangerous driveway…not that we know that from experience or anything….
If you are about to go see your venue, here are a few of my big tips:
Give each venue an hour for the walkthrough. You may not need it, but you don’t want to feel rushed.
Ask first, but bring something to take photos with. It helps with visualizing the venue while you are making your decision later at home.
Bring questions and writing paraphernalia! Know what you need to ask before you get there. (See my post next week for the list of questions I used, I made my own worksheet for it and it really helped keep the focus)