The minute we got home after our vacation in Florida, I had all sorts of energy but no direction. I couldn’t ask my girls to be my bridesmaids, I couldn’t tell anyone a date, I couldn’t get a photographer, I couldn’t decide what I needed…until I got a venue.
So I turned off Pinterest, I stopped looking at all those pretty pictures of weddings on The Knot, and I started focusing on ONLY venues. I spent hours looking at pictures and googling Vegas venues. I could be wrong, but I think that googling a venue in Vegas is a little different then googling one in almost any other state. I mean…can you get the “Elvis Hound Dog” Wedding package for $260?
So, for every “las vegas wedding reception” input, I got quite a few “vegas” packages and “elopement” packages. Thanks…but no thanks, that’s not really my style, and I was more of a Johnny Cash fan than Elvis anyways.
I looked up the wedding options at nearly every single hotel on the Strip. Funny…none of them posted their prices. So I emailed about 10 of them to get their packages and pricing. I also emailed a couple hotels off strip (thinking the price would be lower…not necessarily the case) and a few venues that are specifically designed for weddings and banquets.
Based on the pricing that I was sent back, and the pictures they provided…I set up 7 appointments to see all of the venues…in 7 days.
Yah….I am not sure I would really recommend that, especially the 3 we saw on Sunday and the fact that the ones during the week we had to run from straight from work. Oh yes, I always dreamed of going to my first wedding venue in uniform…. But we are on a bit of a time crunch because we need all the major lifting done before I deploy next month – we had exactly 2 months from engagement to deployment to make decisions.
That may sound a bit overwhelming, and ok, it kind of was (Shai would probably say it really was) but it did make it easier to compare everything when each venue was fresh in our minds. We were able to compare the feel of each venue a lot better without a week or so in between hazing our memories. And we went into these appointments pretty organized
It is a lot thinner now, but my handy dandy binder had the printed out pricing packages for every venue I researched – even the ones we didn’t visit. Once we decided, I thinned it out a bit.
We had our list of what we really wanted (I talked about some of those in my budget post) and we armed with questions….and Shai took notes – lots of notes.
I have to take a moment here to give serious props to my amazing groom. It was truly fun for me to go to every single venue and have him be so 100% involved and interested in the whole process. He learned so much from our first venue, asking the consultant all sorts of questions that I already knew but didn’t even think to see if he knew, that he formed an incredibly thorough list for the following appointments. Almost every single appointment he would look to me and say “What else do we want to ask” as he took a page or two of notes. Love him.
So we wrote down all of the notes in the “venue” section of the notebook and then did a price break down based on what they would provide and what else we needed or wanted. From there, we were really able to narrow down our top three.
I should mention that almost every single venue we looked at provided an “all inclusive” package which combines things like food, alcohol, officiant, DJ, some photography, flowers, and moderate décor….more or less based on the venue. I had not expected so many places to have this option but it was certainly a huge draw for us. If we were having a bit smaller wedding, they could have saved us a lot of money. If you are looking somewhere with an all-inclusive package but don’t want to use their DJ or officiant or whatever, they will often provide you a credit to spend there in exchange. Great to know!
The first venue we looked at was not the best of experiences. The consultant who I scheduled the appointment with wasn’t even in the state and didn’t think to call or email us to let us know she would not be there. She ended up getting out 5 voicemails and emails and sending down an assistant who had been in the job for one week to walk us through. Being so new, she was not able to answer a lot of our questions and promised an email with all of the answers. I am still waiting on that email. Next.
The second venue was a really wonderful one, but more than that, the consultant was a freaking angel. She was so willing to work with us with what we wanted and give us free upgrades where she could. The hotel has two packages – the rooftop ceremony with indoor/outdoor rooftop reception and the pool ceremony with indoor/outdoor pool and restaurant reception. I wanted the rooftop ceremony but the pool reception was twice as large and had huge potential. She was willing to let us have both venues for what I wanted at no additional cost. Truly amazing. Ultimately the idea of guests outdoors in January dissuaded us from selecting that venue.
Really from there, every single consultant was wonderful, and we were incredible consistent in our venue-viewing time. Each appointment lasted exactly an hour except for the last one, which lasted 30 minutes because we were utterly burned out on appointments.
Two of our top three venues put a hold on our date so we could have 2 weeks to think about it. I would definitely recommend trying to get this for anyone considering multiple options because it allows you to take a breath and step back before making any decisions.
When we finally had to decide between our top two, we were really deciding between a beautiful venue that was more reasonably priced, and the wedding venue we were absolutely in love with that was at the very top of our budget. Ultimately we went with the top of our budget. That much money always makes me insanely nervous but I really think we picked the best venue not only for ourselves, but also for our guests (standby on a future post about that!)
So what did I learn?
- That trying venues is a lot like trying on wedding dresses — you can try on hundreds if you want but you are just going to confuse the hell out of yourself.
- Don’t rush a decision. Give yourself time to process everything you have learned and make a calm decision
- Calculate the price yourself – they will send you their “all inclusive price” or the “basic price” but there are going to be hidden costs (I’m looking at you cake cutting fee) and things that you really want (photography upgrade, photo-booth, upgraded centerpieces or linens)
- Make sure you can really survive the cost. Don’t look at venues that you know are out of your budget and then find yourself rationalizing the unreasonable. Look below your price point and maybe one (like my case) that could be a stretch and see what you can do
- Don’t stress. Really, don’t stress too much, just have fun with it. How many more times can you have people show you around like a damn princess telling you everything they can do for you (at a price)? So just be happy! Give that groom a kiss and in my case, some more paper for notes. 😉
Did you have a terrible experience looking at venues? Did you know it was the one when you first saw it? Let me know your experiences in the comments below!