8. Look for Reviews: Ask people or search the internet for reviews of those venues, and then remove the venues with the worst reviews or stories from friends and family. Make a brief written note of each venue.
9. Trim down the reception venue list to between 3 and 5 venues. Eliminate the venues with the worst reviews;
10. Venue Tour: It’s time to visit each venue to see what they really look like in person, the things available/ provided during events (e.g. floor space size compared to what you need? Are there enough of these things: chairs, speakers, fans and/ or air-conditioners (ACs), standby backup generator, toilets, etc.). If there are, are they all working, and working well? I wrote a post listing all the important questions to ask when visiting and inspecting potential event venues, sort of like a checklist that will make things easy for you. Definitely check it out.
11. Ask Questions and Do a Venue Walk-through/ Observation and Inspection: Meet the venue staff and ask vital questions that will give you an idea of the suitability and fit of their venue with regards to your wedding vision and needs. Without asking the right questions, you risk renting a venue you may regret, so be sure to read my post where I shared a list of questions to ask.
12. Site Inspection: While still at the venue, ask to see the particular venue space, and make note of what you see. Your goal is to see with your eyes and get a feel of the space. As you look around, ask them to explain the things that will be provided inside the venue for the event. Ask to be shown the following: where the guests are supposed to seat, where your high-table should be (if you’ll have that), where the dancing space is, where the caterers should set up food/ drinks, where the DeeJay (DJ) should set up, where the changing room is, where the store is/ for your team/ wedding day coordinator(s) to keep away anything that should not be seen at the main reception space].
You’ll want to use this time to inspect every detail you asked them about and see what’s working and what’s not. You also want to envision how the walls, curtains, and floor colours tie into your desired wedding venue colour combination and how you can possibly transform this venue into the vision you have in mind, as per decoration. While still inspecting the event venue, feel free to ask any question that comes to your mind, regarding your observations.
[HINT: When going to each venue, print a copy of our list of questions to ask a wedding venue and use it as a checklist when inspecting the venue. Also, use it during your final meeting with the staff of the venue you eventually choose].
13. Venue Comparison: Once you’ve done a physical visit of all the potential venues, it’s time to do a comparison of the event venues. Compare them by features and what is available at each venue, as well as the costs. Rank the 3 best venues from 1 to 3. There’s a right and wrong way to compare wedding or event venues and the wrong way ignores hidden costs of items not available at some of the venues vs those that have it. In summary, the true cost of a venue is the cost of renting the things a venue does not have PLUS the actual cost of that venue. Therefore, do your calculations to be sure that any prospective venue is really within your budget. Before the end of this post, I explained the things to consider when comparing venues against each other, and extra tips on what to compare. Be sure to read it.
14. Schedule a second meeting with your best/ most suitable venue to further confirm things (again) and get familiar with the place. Be sure to take your planner and decorator along during this visit, so that s/he can advise and make a floorplan and decoration plans.
Before this visit, make a list of questions to ask the wedding venue staff at this final meeting-before-deposit-payment. During your final venue, walk-through and inspection is the best time to ask any other questions, now that you have before you make a deposit payment. Also, ask for them to test some things for you to see with your eyes – if they are working well and adequate. Ask them that you’d like another look inside to see the venue facilities. Also ask them to test out things like lighting, sound, air conditioners (ACs), and fans, clean and flushing toilets (water available? All flushing?) to see with your eyes.
JUST SO THERE ARE NO UGLY SURPRISES, this should not be the last time you go around to inspect things in the venue. You should do it again for a few weeks to your wedding, and a few days too.
- RELATED: How to Plan a No-Ugly-Surprises Wedding in Nigeria
- 8 Wedding Reception Planning Mistakes and How to Avoid Them
15. Ease of venue to be decorated into your planned wedding theme and colour scheme: Also, during your final venue visit before you put down a deposit, check to see if the colour of non-coverable part of the venue (walls, curtains, ceilings, floor) ties into the theme and colour scheme you had envisioned? Neutral venue colours (wall, floor, curtains, chairs) are easier to decorate in diverse ways, as they can blend with nearly any colour scheme. If you feel that the existing venue decor will clash with your own colours, consider checking another venue space. Also, bring your decorator to have a look and advise.
16. What’s Your Gut Feelings Telling You? If you’re okay and really with everything, you may want to put down a deposit right away or in a few days, to lock down the venue, but read the next step before you sign the contract or receipt. At this point, trust your gut feelings. If you don’t get an emotional attraction to your first-choice venue, visit your second-choice venue to do a tour again and see how you feel about it in comparison to the first venue.
17. Get the Details in Writing: Once you find a wedding reception venue you’re satisfied with, it’s time to seal the deal. What I mean by ‘in writing’ is to make sure you have an agreement of rental of space/ contract and payment receipts. Do not part with your money without getting things in writing. Some small Nigerian venues are not wired to provide a detailed agreement, only receipts. However, you can playfully ask the venue staff to list everything (they are providing in that venue) in the back or bottom of the receipt, and then sign after that.
The details to have in your payment documents should include everything they said and agreed they will provide, their plan B (backup plan) in case there’s sudden power outage/ sudden rain if it’s an outdoor venue space, etc.), the payment schedule/ plan, and everything you discussed). Read through every line to be sure there are no previously-mentioned unexplained or hidden costs. Before you make the deposit, be sure to have another walkthrough at the venue to inspect the site and have a final meeting with the venue coordinators, in order to confirm that you really like the place and won’t regret your booking. I explained more about Plan B/ backup plan in my previous post titled what to look for in a wedding venue and questions to ask.
18. Do Not Pay in Cash: To ensure you have extra proof of payment, besides the payment receipt from the venue, I recommend that you do not pay cash. Instead, ask for their bank account and do a bank transfer or pay with through your bank’s online payment or use your payment card (ATM) to transfer to the. That way, you will also have their payment receipt and also your bank statement record, in case any problems arise later.
19. Record Every Single Payment in a Notebook or Spreadsheet: When you finally make the deposit payment for the wedding venue, remember to enter/ write it down in your wedding budget/ expenses list– to track every money you spend and be able to stay within your budget. Why most brides overspend, is because they do not keep a track of their wedding expenses in writing. You can also use your phone to record your wedding expenses and track the totals so far.
The Correct Way to Compare Different Venues When Planning a Wedding or Event
So, let’s say you have finished a tour and inspection of all the wedding reception venues and asked all the right questions, it’s time to compare the venues, in order to get an idea of the best and most suitable one. You’ll find that you can easily eliminate some of the venues right away, maybe because you just don’t vibe with the surroundings. But you may find that you’re torn between 2 or 3 venues and unable to pick one. That’s where a venue comparison will help. You need to write things down to do this. You can write at the back of the printed venue questions or write notes down on a spreadsheet or a note-taking app on your phone.
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