Now that it’s 2013, I’ve finally gotten off my behind and started planning my wedding.  As I go through the process, I’m going to try to document it here as well as my wedding website, just in case it helps you too.

Step 1: Find a venue

Kent Manor, wedding venue

Photo from my visit to Kent Manor, Stevensville, MD

For me, this actually comes before setting a date.  In my area (DC/Baltimore/Annapolis), everything tends to fill up super quickly for the timeframe that we were looking for (end of August-beginning of November) so being flexible makes a big difference.  I realized right away that the venue would probably determine the actual date of our wedding.  That’s fine with us, because we don’t really care when it happens, just that it happens sometime before the end of 2013 🙂

So, how do you find a venue?

Kent Manor, wedding venue

Photo from my visit to Kent Manor, Ceremony site, Stevensville, MD

First start thinking about your must-haves. It’s a good idea to have a sense of how many guests you’d like to invite and how many you think will actually make it. This determines the type of venues that are available. For me, I was shooting for 150 guests, and “scenic” – something beautiful that would look nice in pictures. You should also have a general sense of how much you want to spend on the venue itself, and if it will host both your ceremony and reception or just one or the other.

Next, start researching. Pinterest is super helpful, as well as websites such as the knot and wedding wire.  I started a Google doc spreadsheet with the following information:

  • Name
  • Website
  • Contact Info
  • Availability
  • Rental Cost
  • What Rental Includes
  • Visit Scheduled
  • Notes

This will help keep everything organized once you start visiting places and making your final decision.

Finally, start visiting! It definitely helps to get a big block of locations done at once, so that everything is fresh in your mind as you go from one location to the next.  Be sure to take notes as you go, and pay attention to availability, accessibility, what’s included in each rental fee, and even how well you get along with the staff member who meets with you. This person will become your main point of contact, so it helps to get along with him or her.

If you’re going to be married in a separate location, you’ll also need to make sure you arrange it with the staff there. Many religious venues have strict requirements or need you to reserve the ceremony months in advance.

Do you have any other tips for finding a wedding venue or reception site?

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