The Top 10 Things to Look for in a Wedding Venue BEFORE Signing the Dotted Line

Planning your wedding is such a wonderful and exciting time! From dress shopping with your best girl and guy friends, to cake tastings, Pinterest pinning, and so many other exciting things! On the other hand, however, it can be somewhat overwhelming with so many little details to bring together. It’s like learning to speak a new language overnight, and without help, who knows where to even begin? 

Don’t worry, we know what the process looks like, and we’re here to make it fun, simple, and easy for you! We’ve created this list to help you shop for that perfect fairytale wedding venue, with complete confidence and ease.

1. flexible payment plans

The first thing you will do when starting the planning process will be to determine your wedding budget. Once you have a solid plan on where your money is going, you’ll want to try to stick to that as closely as possible throughout the journey. 

With that in mind, you’ll want to determine whether your potential dream wedding venue provides different payment options that will work with your budget. This will help to reduce the upfront cost so you can lock in your date as soon as you know it's the right venue for you! 

Arrowwood - only 20% down to book, then 4 additional payments of 20% throughout the contract

2. no hidden fees

When you sit down to discuss the details with your wedding venue, be sure to ask what’s included in the price of the venue. Many venues sneak hidden fees that surprise couples down the road.

Ask questions like these:
a) Is there a cleaning fee?
b) How much is the security deposit and when is it due? 
c) Are there per-person surcharge fees? 
d) Are there service fees? 
e) Taxes? 
f) Gratuity?
g) Is there an admin fees?
h) Is there a corkage fee? 

There can be quite a few additional fees that are not included in the sale price, so make sure you cover all your bases and ask for complete transparency--don't get surprised down the road!

Arrowwood - no cleaning fee, no per-person surcharge, no taxes, no gratuity, no admin fee, no corkage fee; all included in our venue fee rates!  $500 refundable security deposit collected 30-days out from wedding date and fully refundable.

3. open vendor policy

The vendor policy - possibly the biggest determining factors in booking a wedding venue. 

Most wedding venues and hotels require you to use their caterer and bar packages. Which means, your low wedding venue pricing, just skyrocketed. Often the average per person catering cost is around $85/person, not including the bar package.

Bar packages are minimum $3k, depending on your guest count, drink choice, and hours served. Not to mention that Corkage fee, we mentioned above. 

The bottom line: find a venue like Arrowwood, with an open vendor policy but provides you with plenty of resources and recommendations on vendors who can service up your big day for half the price! And, if money isn’t a concern, open vendor policies gives you the option to pick the food that YOU want, anyone is an option! 

Arrowwood - Open vendor policy with the exception of the bartender and security (required w/ alcohol). We provide a "preferred vendor list" with our high preferred vendors, that are affordable and know the venue, but you can use anyone you'd like, without an additional fee. 

4. limited restrictions

Make sure your fairytale wedding venue is actually, your fairytale wedding venue. Too many restrictions can make you feel like you’re a business transaction, rather than a bride enjoying your special day. 

Find out what the wedding venue's alcohol policy is. Can you have alcohol in your bridal suite and groom's lounge? Is liquor permitted? Is smoking allowed on-site or are your smoking guests shunned to the parking lot? Are live bands welcome? Cold sparks and pets? Do they require wedding insurance for you or your vendors?

These are all important things to think and ask about. Find a venue with very limited restrictions so you can relax and enjoy everything you’ve been planning for the past year plus! 

Arrowwood - we are a laidback venue, with a space welcoming you to create, YOUR dream wedding. Our couples are welcome to have drinks in the getting ready suites prior to the wedding. Guests are welcome to smoke where you deem (outside), live bands are pre-approved prior to 9PM, cold sparks allowed (in safe areas), pet friendly, kid friendly and wedding insurance no required (unless a high-risk vendor).

5. good reviews

Booking a venue with good reviews is an absolute MUST. Be sure to dig deep into the venue’s reviews, and find out how their customer service is. What do past brides and grooms say about their communication, experience day of, staffing, scenery, etc. 

Also ask around, have people heard of it or been to it? What is their honest opinion? Don’t be afraid to join some groups on social media and start asking around! 

Arrowwood - 4.8 rating out of 480 reviews! That is pretty outstanding!

6. in-house offerings

7. lgbtq+ friendly 

Look for a venue that offers the things you’re looking for, all in one place! For example, if your expertise doesn’t lie in decor and you don’t feel like piecing together a theme, find a venue like Arrowwood that curates and sets up the decor for you!

Find a wedding venue that gives you the option of a one-stop shop for all your wedding planning needs. The goal is to make it as stress-free as possible, so you can enjoy every second of it!

Arrowwood - offers a large portion of it in-house, then has preferred vendors for anything they don't do in-house. To list a few, decor package, coordination, overnight accommodations, entertainment with llamas, beer burro, yard games, smores bar and plenty of fun and unique rentals!

Not only is it important to book a wedding venue with exceptionally friendly staff, but also a staff that makes LGBTQ+ couples and their friends feel welcomed and loved! 

Make sure to put your feelers out and don’t be afraid to ask outright if your potential venue will make everyone feel at home! This is one of the most important parts of your wedding day. Make sure you feel comfortable and welcome on your day.

Arrowwood - it is embedded in our culture to provide a warm and welcoming space anyone that enters our whimsical retreat. 

8. contingency rain plan options 

This one is especially important for completely outdoor wedding venues. Does the wedding venue provide a contingency plan for the inclement weather? If so, what are thier solutions and how are they carried out? Will the venue do the flip and is there an additional fee? What time does the decision have to be made?  

Arrowwood - we will wait until the last possible minute for our couples, so our brides can get their dream outdoor ceremony if they desire, and in the event of unfavorable conditions, we will get with the newlyweds-to-be, to confirm what they would like us to do for their ceremony, as we have multiple set up options protected from the rain, that still have an outdoorsy feel! 

9. bridal suite & grooms lounge 

I know this one seems like a no-brainer, but there are surprisingly quite a few venues out there that do not offer a place for brides and grooms to get ready on-site! If this is a must on your venue checklist, then be sure to tour and find out if they do have both spaces. In addition, be sure that the groom is satisfied with his lounge, as a lot of venues tend to skimp out on the grooms lounge and give all the attention to the bridal suite! 
Also, make sure there is enough space for all of your wedding party to get ready in each room! This is a must for brides and grooms with larger wedding parties.

Arrowwood - there are two getting ready areas that provide all and more for a fun and restful day getting ready. See our saved stories on IG for more pictures and a video.

10. does it match your aesthetic? 

Perhaps the most important item on our list! If it checks all those other boxes but doesn’t match your fairytale dream wedding vision, is it the right venue for you? Your wedding venue should make you feel like you found THE venue of venues. It should just feel right. Just like the lifetime partner to be!

You know that show, “Say Yes to the Dress?” It should feel like the moment you find THE dress. Don’t settle for a venue simply because it fits the budget, choose it because it brings to life your wedding dreams!