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Have you heard? It’s Engagement Celebration Week! Whether you’ve been engaged for two days or twelve months, we invite you to join the party and celebrate like you said yes yesterday. Upload a proposal or ring shot to our hashtag, enter to win giveaways all week on Instagram, or take 20% off our wedding planner with code JOYFULLYENGAGED. We can’t wait to cheer you on!!

The first item most brides look to book is the wedding venue — and with good reason! Your venue sets the tone for everything that is to come, it often helps determine your wedding date, and it can take up a large chunk of your wedding budget. Many brides or grooms also often have a sentimental attachment to the spot they choose to say “I do,” so (as with many wedding decisions) there’s an additional emotional factor to consider.

Since we know many of you are at the beginning of your engagement (how exciting!!), we wanted to share some of the most important things to consider when choosing a wedding venue! To do so, we invited three of the event planners at Keeneland, one of Kentucky’s premier venues, to offer their tips, and combined them with some of the best info from the Joyful Wedding Planner. We’ve sprinkled a few lovely photos from Keeneland’s various venues throughout, too!

Honey Heart Photography

1. The Particulars of Your Wedding. Know your (approximate) guest count, (desired) date and (approximate) budget before starting the search. It’s okay to not have them all set in stone, but you want to have at least a ballpark for each! If you have any must-haves (great view, garden setting, white walls, etc.), write these down, too. Use this information to make a list of possible venues, then narrow it down to your top picks before scheduling tours.

Honey Heart Photography

2. Your Love Story. Do you have a special tie to a location or city? Your wedding should be filled with your unique love story, and your venue is a great place to start! The Keeneland folks love hearing from brides who met their fiancé on property, grew up coming to the track, or were proposed to in between races.

Nina and Wes

3. Catering. There are several benefits of choosing a venue with an in-house catering company (especially if it’s a fabulous one, like Keeneland’s!). Having the food prepared by an in-house team means you don’t need to create a kitchen from the ground-up, you usually don’t have to worry about renting china and silverware, and you know your venue and catering team will work together seamlessly. Of course, if you have a specific caterer you’ve been dying to work with, or you have a particular vision in mind (like food trucks), you’ll want to look for a venue that allows outside vendors.

Lang Thomas

4. Coordination. At Southern Weddings, we believe that every couple should have at minimum a day-of coordinator, even if it’s just a trustworthy and organized family friend. Whether you’re planning to hire a full-service planner or not, make sure that you meet with and get along with the venue contact who will be on site during your celebration! Ask what level of involvement they’ll have with your planning, too.

VRV Photographie

5. Venue Specifics. The frustrating thing about the wedding venue search is that you’re usually comparing apples to oranges, because every venue builds their packages differently and charges accordingly. Make sure to gather as much information as possible! In addition to our basic questions, below, here are a few next-level Q’s:

— How long do we have the venue on the day of our wedding? Will we have access early to set-up?
— Does our rental include tables, chairs, china, a dance floor, a stage, or any other rentals?
— How will our venue coordinator assist us?
— Do you have enough parking to accommodate our guest count? Do you require valet, and is it additional?
— Restrooms: are they big enough and nice enough for your taste?
— What is the rain plan?

6. Photos. Does the venue itself photograph well? Are there pretty spots for portraits? If not, is the surrounding area accessible, and a good fit for your aesthetic?

Honey Heart Photography

Thanks to the ladies at Keeneland for chiming in today with their expert advice! And remember: as you sift through information from your top picks, make visits to each, and consider your options, don’t be afraid to ask questions, get proposals, and use the expertise of the on-site coordinator!

Sending wishes that you all find your perfect wedding venue match as quick as a Kentucky thoroughbred! :)

This post is brought to you by Keeneland, a gorgeous wedding venue and iconic race track in Kentucky. Thanks for your support of the brands who make Southern Weddings possible!

emily Written with love by Emily
1 Comment
  1. avatar Ryan reply

    LOVE seeing our photographer friends and several past clients on Southern Weddings! The planners and staff at Keeneland are second to none and it is such an honor that we get to produce wedding videos at this beautiful Lexington venue!

Southern Weddings reserves the right to delete comments which contain profanity or personal attacks or seek to promote a business unrelated to the post.  And remember: a good attitude is like kudzu – it spreads.  We love hearing your kind thoughts!

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It’s Derby Week, ladies + gents! We thought we’d celebrate this most Southern event in true Southern style, and have a whole slew of posts centered around all things Derby to prep you for Saturday’s main event. So put on your fanciest hat, sit back, and enjoy the ride!

Up first? A pair of inspiration boards. This first one is inspired by traditional Derby elements — read on for ways to incorporate them into your wedding!

Credits, clockwise from top left:

Gents, of course, should wear their finest bow tie to the festivities. We love this one, shot by Chase Kuhn. See more from this wedding on SW here + here!

Petite Lady apples give a lovely nod to equine inspiration without going overboard. Serve them as part of your dessert bar, or as a sweet counterpoint to cocktail hour (via Martha Stewart Weddings).

Creamy yellow, red, and chocolate blooms are an updated twist on classic red roses.

A red velvet cake? What could be more perfect for a Southern wedding? We love that this one is topped with spring-perfect strawberries (photo by Jessica Johnson).

For true Derby spirit, have a bugler play “Call to the Post” or “My Old Kentucky Home” right before you make your grand entrance into the reception. Todd Pellowe captured a great shot of this in action at one of his recent weddings!

The tan, black, and white look on this groom is perfect for a sophisticated day with a bit of a masculine bent. Gorgeous horse optional! (Photo by Jose Villa)

To keep things from getting overly-theme-y, keep your decor neutral. We like these jute and twine wrapped bottles, decked out with single stems (via Martha Stewart Weddings).

Lastly, passed mint juleps will give any celebration a distinct Southern flair. If you can’t swing classic julep cups for every guest, splurge on a few vintage silver trays — they’ll dress up plain glasses in a jiffy. Old trays can easily be found at flea markets and on eBay, and don’t worry about a little tarnish — it only ups your authenticity! (via Southern Accents)

Other ideas? Host your reception at Keeneland’s race track. Settle centerpieces in vintage silver trophy cups. Make escort cards out of mini prize ribbons. Pin a vintage horseshoe brooch onto your bouquet. Have a bourbon tasting bar (like Calder Clark did so beautifully at one of her recent weddings!). Send guests home with mini derby pies as favors.

We’ll be back soon with another Derby-inspired inspiration board, this one a bit more whimsical!

emily Written with love by Emily
2 Comments
  1. avatar Weekly Round-Up « Southern Weddings Magazine reply

    […] favorite Derby-inspired things, from mint juleps to roses. A brief rundown: Emily dreamed up one traditional Derby inspiration board, and one more whimsical. The whimsical board seemed to be the favorite with y’all :) Save […]

  2. avatar Winner :: Marley Lilly + Spark Letterpress « Southern Weddings Magazine reply

    […] y’all see our Derby Week posts last week? (Here, here, here, here, here, and here, in case you missed ‘em!) I hope you all took our friendly […]

Southern Weddings reserves the right to delete comments which contain profanity or personal attacks or seek to promote a business unrelated to the post.  And remember: a good attitude is like kudzu – it spreads.  We love hearing your kind thoughts!

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