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You’ve probably heard us say this before, and we’ll repeat it till the cows come home, because gracious, it can save you so much stress: don’t book any of your vendors till you’ve signed on the dotted line for a venue!

I will be the first to raise my hand when I say this may be easier said than done, though. When I was wedding planning, my now-husband and I had an immediate bead on our officiant and photographer, and were eager to confirm the dates with them. But, our venue search took MUCH longer than we ever suspected! (And ended — long story short — with John scrolling Google Maps satellite view to find a patch of coastal land where we could pitch a tent!) I can’t imagine the headache it could’ve caused if we had put down deposits on other vendors before securing the place where our “I dos” would take place (and, of course, the official date!).

Along with setting your date in stone, your venue will likely have more of an influence on your wedding than any other decision–it will determine the style and aesthetic, your guest count, and even the timeline of the day. Below are a few tips for making this important decision!

Start with Google. While venues that market themselves to weddings generally have a lot of information online, unusual or “off the beaten path” options may be harder to find through a simple search. Try searching for phrases like “North Carolina barn wedding” or “Atlanta ballroom wedding”–those terms are likely to bring up posts on wedding blogs (oh hi! :)) and photographers’ blogs, which can be a great way to both find new venues and see how others have used the spaces.

Compare apples to apples. When you’re booking a venue, you’re often booking more than just the space–you may also be booking their in-house staffing, rentals, catering etc. All venues calculate their prices differently, so as you research, try to organize the information in a way that’s easy for you to understand and compare. For example, one venue may seem exorbitantly more expensive than another at first, but when you learn that the first price includes a month-of coordinator, valet parking, and use of their extensive rental inventory, while the second is just use of the space, the first may actually be the more affordable option.

Visit your venue one year in advance. If you can, try to visit venues as close to a year in advance of your wedding date as possible–it will give you the best insight as to what you can expect in terms of landscaping and scenery.

Get it in writing. Especially if you are asking for particular allowances, such as hanging a certain type of decor or arranging the space in a unique way, be sure to get the venue’s agreement in writing. That way, even if there’s staff turnover during your engagement, your provisions should be safe.

Here are a few important questions to ask venues you’re interested in–pin the graphic below so you don’t forget! (P.S. If you have our Joyful Wedding Planner, you’ll also find this list in there to bring to your appointments.)

I’d love to know–what made you say “yes” to your wedding venue?

emily Written with love by Emily
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    We’re just tickled to get to introduce y’all to a new set of Blue Ribbon Vendors, because we know any one of them would be a joy to you if you choose to work together! We’re using a few of our favorite BRV interview questions to help you get to know these lovely ladies and gents. Click through to their listings to find out more about them!!

    Name: A.J. Dunlap Photography
    Category: Photography
    Where you call home: Raleigh, North Carolina
    Favorite part of a wedding day? The moment just after a couple is pronounced husband and wife. It never fails, every single couple gives the biggest smiles and joy radiates from them!

    Name: Kelly Parker Smith of Hello World Paper Co.
    Category: Invitations & Paper Goods
    Where you call home: Belleville, Illinois
    Favorite part of a wedding day? The cake! White on white cakes with simple details are my absolute favorite!

    Name: Jesilyn Kay Calligraphy
    Category: Calligraphy
    Where you call home: Austin, Texas
    How I got into weddings: I have always been drawn to creating beauty in whatever craft or project I decided to take on. The wedding industry is ultimately about creating beauty and joy that will be cherished in memories forever, so it was a natural fit to find myself working here. I am blessed to work with clients every day who want beautiful details to add to their big day, and it’s an honor to be able to provide that for them. I truly love it!

    Name: LC Custom Vacations
    Category: Honeymoon Travel
    Where you call home: Atlanta and Savannah, Georgia
    Favorite thing about weddings in the South? The hospitality! I love weddings where everyone is treated like family. It is really special to see two families become one.

    Name: LULA Hair & Makeup
    Category: Beauty
    Where you call home: Raleigh, North Carolina
    Best piece of advice you can give to brides and grooms? Laugh as much as possible.

    Name: LulaKate
    Category: Fashion
    Where you call home: Charleston, South Carolina
    How I got into weddings: My best friend’s sister got married early on in my career and was asked to do the bridesmaid dresses. After saying no a number of times, I was finally convinced and the rest is history! My first wedding took place in a barn in the mountains of NC. The dresses were a beautiful persimmon orange. It was a great way to get my start in the bridesmaid world!

    Names: Rebecca Rose Creative
    Category: Invitations and Paper Goods
    Where you call home: Winston-Salem, North Carolina
    Favorite part of a wedding day? The moment the doors open and the bride walks down the aisle is always so special. We dare you to say you’ve never shed a tear at that moment!

    Name: Southern Season
    Category: Venue
    Where you call home: Chapel Hill, North Carolina
    Favorite thing about weddings in the South? All of the thoughtful details that go into the planning. And lots of flowers and lots of dressed up people!

    Name: Strasburg Children
    Category: Fashion
    Where you call home: Nashville, Tennessee
    Best piece of advice you can give to brides and grooms? Always forgive. Try not to mess up big, but if you do, remember that we are all just people.

    Name: Tracy Enoch Photography
    Category: Photography
    Where you call home: Dallas, Texas
    Favorite part of a wedding day? Bride and groom portraits, when they have a bit of time to themselves and I get the opportunity to document their natural excitement!

    Check out all of our favorite vendors in the Blue Ribbon Vendor Directory! I also want to mention that we’re working particularly hard to expand some of our areas of slim pickings–namely Arkansas, Mississippi, Oklahoma, and West Virginia. If you would like to recommend someone (or nominate yourself!) for any of these states, please email kristin at southernweddings.com!

    kristin Written with love by Kristin
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      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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