Over the last 5+ years we have secretly been taking notes on venues, how they operate, what sets them apart, why couples choose their space, etc. Over the next couple of months we will be giving you INSIDE DETAILS on different venues in and around Charlotte and how the heck to choose the right venue for you! This will be a series titled - Clockwork’s Venue Guide.
In my opinion there are 3 MAJOR FACTORS when looking for the perfect venue for you and your fiancé. Each factor has components that will help guide you when researching and contacting venues. When working with Clockwork we usually use this format when narrowing down the 100+ venues in and around the Charlotte area. Grab a coffee, glass of wine or a box of cookies and a notebook. Take notes, even ask questions below. We are here to help!
1. THE VISION! - does the venue align with my vision.
What the heck do we mean “align with your vision”. Well simply, choose a venue that looks like, feels like and gives you the same vibes as your Pinterest board. Now, let's just clarify... Your venue may or may not have all of the checkmarks on your list or look exactly like your board but as you get into planning you realize there are a top 5 must-haves and how to prioritize your checkmarks. If I was asked what my must haves were, it would be as follows:
1. Photography - these are memories you will have forever, don't shrimp out
2. Environment/Venue - this is canvas that will help me create the most beautiful event
3. Flowers - help soften and add color to the canvas
4. Music - brings the ENERGY and sets the VIBE!
5. Food. - is yummy, belly filling & satisfying.
With that being said, if the venue is in your top 5 (usually is) then make sure your vision matches the venue.
Modern - If you’re looking to have a modern day, look for sleek lines, dramatic lighting and structure. Quite a few hotels and museums can achieve this effect. Often times couples include trends like Traditional and Class in this category.
Photos by Rob + Kristen | Venue - Urban Garden by Ritz-Carlton Charlotte
Bohemian - Now, this movement has been around for a little bit but has transformed into 2 different categories. There is a Boho Wedding & Boho Chic. Boho Wedding can feel like an enchanted woodland forest with lots of wood and texture and Boho Chic mixes that romantic woodland forest and adds some structure with industrial metals. Breweries, Old Warehouses, and Non-Conventional spaces can really be transformed into your boho wanderlust.
Photos By Angela Tucker Weddings | Venue Loray Mills
Rustic Chic - Being in the Carolinas, we often see this term Rustic Chic but that can also play into many different avenues of style. My definition of the trend includes southern & vintage elements. I don't like to use the word Country because that is a WHOLE different thing but incorporating soft textures, greenspace and lots of vintage rentals really define this mood. There are tons and tons of barn styles spaces that are in and around the Charlotte Metro area. With that being said, be sure the venue has as many of the things you want included already. There are also a TON of estates that host special events like weddings, that lean towards the Rustic Chic or Vintage wedding you're looking for, just make sure that there is enough space for your wedding guests.
Photos By Erin Kranz Photography | Venue - Alexander Homestead
“Don’t try to put a round ball in a square box.”
2. Do your research!
Google venues. It's imperative! Photographers, Videographers and Planners often blog about venues they have worked or shot. Some key words I like to use are:
“________ (venue name) wedding photography”
“Wedding Photography at ________ (venue name)”
You can do the same thing but with videography. Venues don’t update their websites as often as photographers upload photos. Using this as guidance will allow you to see if any updates have been done to the venue and view the venue in a different perspective.
Check social media outlets. Social media is honestly my favorite mode when searching for venues, I feel like it’s almost a live stream of information and that material can be shared with a vast audience. Look at hashtags and tagged photos. You could get inspo on different areas to shoot at the venue. It’ll also help guide you when choosing a space for different aspects of the wedding.
Read Reviews. Please please please read reviews. I encourage my clients to write reviews on all of the vendors that we worked with because it will inform other clients what to expect. Be sure to include things like:
- Were they easy to work with?
- Did they answer your questions, when you had them?
- Did they put you in touch with reliable wedding vendors (if your planner didn't)?
- Did they do everything they told you that they would do?
Also be sure to see if they mentioned any specific things they struggled with, people that were difficult to work with etc. Many clients will use WeddingWire, TheKnot, Google and Facebook to review their wedding vendors. This is such an important thing that clients tend to do only AFTER they've booked their wedding. BIG NO NO!
Don't Forget "Plan B". Find out the poor weather plan, also known as the “Plan B” or the backup plan. The dreaded backup plan is never the original but knowing what the Plan B is could drastically change your mind on choosing the right venue. MORE TIMES than I want to admit couples only relied on the original plan and then sacrificed their whole vision because of bad weather. Venues in our area have drastically changed the Plan B to a more reliable permanent structure which has helped couples choose the right space, however some venues still do not have covered areas if it rains, snows, sleets or it’s just too cold outside.
“An investment in knowledge pays the best interest”
– Ben Franklin
3. Budget, what does it really mean?
When talking about budget with clients I like to write everything out, what they think something costs, what they have already spent and how can we maximize what we have available.
There are so many “Planning Budget Guides” out there that it can be very overwhelming for couples to decide how to spend “X” amount on what.
Typical Budget Guides like this one from WeddingWire include:
However, some venues include some or all of the major components. FIND OUT: What does the venue include?
Does it only include the bare space?
Is food & alcohol included in the rental rate?
Does it include tables & chairs? - Then ask yourself do you want to upgrade any of those tables/chairs?
Does it include a basic linen (only black & white) or a solid poly linen?
Does it include any additional rentals (lanterns, lighting, etc)
Each Venue offers different things. Venues that include an “all-inclusive package” or “add-on’s” may be great for your budget because they have these items in house. Couples can find a bottom line number like $12,000 for the venue, scary.... but at the end of the day if the venue is including major items it could potential reduce your overall budget!
Planner Disclaimer: The WeddingWire Budget Guide is not as accurate as working with a planner and this is a great example of how a budget planner can be misguided. However the tool is a great resource but their base valuations are not spot on.
At the end of this series we can definitely go more in depth about budgeting your wedding planning finances, but for now…
“Work Smarter, Not Harder” - Allen F. Morgenstern
There are quite a few more things that are important when finalizing your venue but we wanted to make sure you have a strong basis when searching for the perfect space. It's important to remember that at the end of the day marrying your best friend should ALWAYS remain priority and all the other fluff will fall into place.
Stay tuned for our series comparing different venues, different styles and how they might be the right venue for you!
With Love, Kayla