Venue Shopping

I'm thrilled to already be working with five pairs of interesting and dynamic new clients for 2010 Vision package weddings.  My goal is to make sure they all have a venue booked (or close to it) by the time I go away for my wedding and honeymoon.  So far, they have chosen some stunning venues: the State Room; the Fairmont Battery Wharf (brand new property); and the Hyatt Harborside. Two of those three have wedding ceremonies planned at the gorgeous Old South Church.  I love that my clients have excellent taste - it makes my job so much fun!

The venues for the other two clients are still in the works, but one is going to be a gorgeous Cape Cod wedding, with an oceanview ceremony at the bride's parents house.  Very cool.  The energy that new clients bring is always very exciting.

One of the first steps in planning (after you set your budget and guest list) is to go venue shopping.  I highly recommend you go venue shopping with no set wedding date in mind.  Finding a place to get married is one of the most stressful parts of planning - it's such a big deal, really - especially if the venue also provides the food, another really big deal!  And there are so many choices which makes coming up with a short list fairly overwhelming.

So how do I make this process nearly painless for my clients?  It depends on the couple, but I generally start the process by asking a ton of questions - I kind of see it like a Choose Your Own Adventure challenge to be conquered:

  • Do you prefer urban or rural?
  • Need or strongly prefer a view?
  • Need or strongly prefer outdoor space?
  • Do you have a big drinking crowd?
  • Do you have a lot of guests from out of town/out of state?
  • Is your preferred aesthetic classic New England/historic; clean and contemporary; or very modern, funky and stylized?
The answers to those questions give me a good starting point.  But, in some cases, when the client doesn't yet have a vision what their wedding will look and feel like, I bring my big binder of venues and my laptop to their house and we look at options side by side.  I have tons of venues in my binder + dozens more websites bookmarked.  We typically have some wine and look for inspiration amidst the options.  I tend to be pretty good at coming up with a excellent short list of spots to check out, and usually my first or second guess is on target.

Then, since I already know budget, timing and other expectations, I get off and running by creating a spreadsheet of possible venues with the relevant questions answered.  The couple narrows down the options and off we go on site visits, which I typically try to schedule back to back, so everything is fresh in your memory and you don't have to take much time off of work.  I'll explain how those work another day...but my clients like it when they are made to feel extra special on site visits.

So, what's your favorite venue and why?  I'd love to hear about unique or unusual sites.

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