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So you just said YES to the big question and you’re getting started narrowing down dates and researching Washington Wedding Venues for your big wedding day! As you jump on the rollercoaster ride of wedding planning, one of the first big items to check off on your list is the LOCATION where you’re gonna get married. Are you envisioning a chic urban wedding with tons of style and glamour? Or a relaxed country soiree surrounded by scenic landscapes and PNW vistas?
Your venue will determine so many elements of your wedding day, and create a few more questions for you to answer: How will your guests get there? Will they need accommodation nearby or does the venue itself provide accommodations? How many guests will the venue accommodate? Will you need to hire or rent additional elements like a tent, tables, chairs, etc? Phew! The venue is the first big piece of the puzzle to getting the whole show on the road! (Ahem, after the fiancé, of course.)
As you get started on your Washington Wedding Venue hunt, you’re probably becoming a Google power-user and getting real familiar with search terms like LOCATION + WEDDING VENUE + PRICE RANGE. This is a great place to start developing a list of possibilities, but next you’re going to have to go out and visit these places, or communicate via phone/email with the venue owners or managers. There’s nothing better than a site visit to get your questions answered and start discerning if the vibe of a particular venue and its staff will be a good fit for a wedding. And if an in-person visit isn’t possible, as much as millennials hate getting on the phone, I’d strongly encourage a phone, Facetime, or Skype call with the venue to get a sense of the people you’ll be working with for such an incredibly important day!
After ten years in the industry, I’ve seen the best and worst of what local Northwest Washington Wedding venues have to offer, and there are a few elements that separate the good venues from the great ones. I put together a list of questions I’d be asking if I were planning a wedding with all the knowledge I’ve gained over the last decade under my belt!
What is unique about your Washington Wedding Venue? How long have you been operating? How did your business get started? I find you can learn a lot about people and their values by asking to hear their story!
How many weddings do you host per year? Do you do multiple weddings on a given weekend? If the venue hosts weddings on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, that could limit the time you’ll have available for setup, cleanup, and your rehearsal.
What does your venue offer? What’s included in the base cost and what are the available extras?
Is there getting-ready space available on-site or will you have to find an alternate location to get ready? If you’re not local to the area, that could mean renting a hotel room or AirBnB to get ready in. If the venue does have getting ready space, what does it look like? Will it look good in photos? Is it well lit?
Do you have different rates for peak season/off season dates? Friday/Saturday/Sunday? Weekdays? If you’re on a tight budget, or your dream Washington Wedding Venue is out of your price range, don’t hesitate to ask if they have a lower rate for off-peak dates or weekdays! Peak season varies by region; in the Pacific Northwest most popular wedding dates fall between May and October; a venue may offer a lower rate during off-peak months as business tends to be slower. If peak season is your dream, ask about a Friday, Sunday, or weekday rate. Peak-season Saturdays will always be the most expensive dates to book.
Are there multiple options for ceremony and reception sites? Some venues have more than one location for setting up your ceremony or reception area. What are the pros and cons of those areas?
Is there power available for sound equipment?
What are the restroom facilities like? Some venues may have great facilities on-site. Other venues may recommend you hire a vendor to provide portable restroom facilities. If they do, ask if they recommend a particular vendor.
Does the venue have rentals/furniture/equipment available for our use?
What happens in case of rain on our wedding day? Does the venue have a tent or covered spaces available?
Do you require any insurance for the couple? For vendors?
Do you have any restrictions on which vendors we’re able to hire for catering, bartending, deejay, etc?
Do you have a preferred vendor list of businesses who’ve worked at your venue before and are familiar with the venue’s specifics? Even if they don’t require you to hire certain businesses, a preferred vendor list can be a great starting place for finding business that have a good working relationship with the venue! And if they don’t have a good working relationship with outside vendors, that can be a red flag. Wedding pros are usually happy to talk up the other businesses they have a great time working with.
Any rules or restrictions for outside vendors like catering, bartender, photographer, videographer, deejay? Beyond who you’re able to hire, are there specific rules or guidelines for those vendors to operate on the venue property?
Are there any additional costs outlined in the contract? Everyone has a budget, and everyone is trying to make a living. Make sure you’re on the same page with your desired price range, including any fees outside of the base rate. This could include cancellation policies, automatic gratuities, and more.
Ask to speak with one or two recent clients for the inside story! If the venue is great to work with, couples won’t hesitate to rave about it. However, if they mention any major issues in dealing with the venue owners or staff, dig a little deeper and see if there’s a trend or if it was a one-time issue.
If you have any reservations about booking with a venue, do your research! Contact some recent clients, and search on Google and Facebook to see if anyone has posted negative reviews. Search in a few local wedding planning Facebook groups (most big cities have them) using the name of your venue to see what people are saying about working with them.
If the Washington Wedding Venue you have in mind is newer to the wedding market and they don’t have many reviews yet, you’ll really need to do your due diligence, read their contract carefully, ask lots of questions, and prepare to do a little more of the heavy lifting in terms of bringing in outside vendors and services. You’ll definitely want to consider hiring a wedding planner to help in coordinating vendors and thinking about all the things that need to happen on a wedding day! If you aren’t familiar with the area and the local industry pros, I’d strongly encourage a planner or coordinator. A newer venue may not have dealt with many of the “what if” scenarios that come up on wedding days, and may not have a game plan to handle unforeseen events.
On the other hand, a venue that’s been around for 5+ years will have a huge amount of experience to draw on when it comes to handling the unexpected on a wedding day. They’ll know exactly how to answer questions like “what if the power goes out?” “what if there’s a freak hailstorm?” “what if we have a guest who needs special or handicapped accommodations?” “what if there’s a medical emergency?” Many venues won’t see all these things as their responsibility beyond providing a physical location for you to have your wedding, but imho it’s this kind of logistical forethought that separates the okay venues from the great ones. Great venues have well-thought-out accommodations and supplies on hand to handle all manner of situations and circumstances to help a wedding day run smoothly and efficiently.
And while you’re here, here are a handful of my favorite Washington State Wedding Venues!
Did you enjoy this post about what questions to ask when booking your Washington State Wedding Venue? Don’t leave without checking out a couple gorgeous Washington State Weddings!
Adrien Craven is a passionate and wildly creative Pacific Northwest wedding photographer. She specializes in natural light wedding photography and is best known for romantic, timeless images of couples against the backdrop of the scenic beauty of Washington State and the greater Puget Sound. With a heart of service and friendly demeanor, Adrien is able to connect with her clients and help them to feel beautiful and at ease while in front of the camera. Her photographs are often described as timeless, romantic, and full of emotion. Interested in booking Adrien for your wedding day? Get in touch here!