Thinking About A Wedding Venue? 5 Things To Do Before Signing On The Dotted Line

If you're planning a wedding, one of the first tasks that needs to be finalized is to choose a venue -- many of which fill up fast -- that will provide the right atmosphere for your celebration of love. But, it's also not a decision you should rush into, for this very reason. So, how can you have it both ways? By understanding what you need to know and do before you sign that deposit check for a venue. Here's a handy list of five things to do first.

Check Your Credit. Looking at your credit may not be something most couples do before beginning their wedding planning, but it should. Why? Because your venue is one of the biggest wedding purchases you'll make, and you may be able to rack up credit card points on a good rewards credit card. Those points, in turn, can be used for future wedding-related costs or to help beef up the honeymoon. Check your credit, find a good rewards card, and use it strategically to pay for large expenses like the venue (paying these costs off when the bill arrives, of course).

Drive the Route. Knowing how far your venue is from your other wedding day (or weekend) activities -- as well as how traffic and weather are during different times of day -- will help you decide on a location. It can also help you figure out how difficult it will be for guests to find the venue, whether you should stay more locally the night before, and how convenient it will be to buy things in a wedding-day emergency. 

Pretend You're a Guest. Spend a little time playing the role of guest at your wedding and reception. Start with arriving by foot or car, finding parking, then finding the wedding itself, navigating the room with tables, dancing, finding the bathrooms, and enjoying the views. It's best to do this type of dry run with a few friends and at the same time of day that the wedding will occur. Play-acting as guests will help you make sure you find a venue that's large enough, simple to get to, attractive at the right time of day, and easy to enjoy. 

Ask for a Couple of Perks. Before you secure the venue, you have more leverage to ask for a few added benefits or freebies. Once you are contractually obligated, the management is likely to be less inclined to include bonuses. Consider asking for things like extra workers, a bartender, use of outdoor space, extra cocktail time, or free parking. Then, make sure any additions you work out are included in the contract before signing.

Negotiate Help. Your venue should be the first line of contact when it comes to hiring help. Make sure you know what kind of help will come with your space rental -- including set up, break down, and assistance during the reception. In addition, ask about including specific assistance with things like parking cars, decorating, moving guests for cocktail hour, and getting the bridal party ready. Finally, ask your venue for recommendations for outside vendors -- photographers, florists, bakers, or hair and makeup stylists, for example. Vendors who are familiar with the wedding venue can make things simpler and more beautiful on the wedding day -- especially if you live in a different area.

By following these guidelines when deciding on and negotiating a venue like Castle McCulloch, you can help ensure that you find a space that not only makes you happy but will also be just right for everyone on your big day.