As you embark on this planning journey you’ll realize the first question vendors ask you is, “When’s your wedding date?” And regardless if you’re chosen a meaningful date or are flexible with the date openings at your favorite venue, you won’t be able answer that question until you’ve officially booked a space. This means the hunt for your venue is one of the first items on your wedding to-do list. With so many incredible venues in Kansas City it can be a daunting task to narrow it down and pick just one, so let’s chat through a guide to finding the perfect venue to bring your vision to life and officially set your date!
The first place to start is by envisioning the guest experience you want your loved ones to have on your wedding day. Do you want them to “oooh” and “ahh” over a stunning church before driving to your jaw-dropping reception hall? Or do you prefer to nix the transportation between the two and find a venue with both a ceremony and reception location onsite? Is close parking important to you or walkability to a nearby hotel? Do you picture any interactive guest activities such as a cocktail hour taking place – whether that be indoors or outdoors? Close your eyes, take a deep breath and be a guest at your wedding. What do you see? These are the qualities that should go on the “must have” list as you begin hunting for a venue that can deliver the type of guest experience you are dreaming of.
Once you have a clear picture of the experience you want your friends and family to have, begin thinking about the venue aesthetic. Do you want an urban loft, a sprawling estate, or a rustic vibe? You may be able to quickly narrow down the general feel for your wedding aesthetic, so continue to narrow the focus even further by thinking of the décor you’ll need to bring your vision to life within each venue. Do you need to bring in drapery and/or lighting? Will you need to install a dance floor? Or bring in furniture? These items should be accounted for at the beginning of your venue hunt as they have a big impact on your budget.
At this point you’ve likely narrowed your search down to a handful of Kansas City venues so it’s time to determine what really sets them apart. The following amenities vary from venue-to-venue. Your ideal space doesn’t have to have it all, you simply need to find one that checks the boxes of the wedding day experience you desire. Here are some common preferences that will help you compare and ultimately decide upon the venue that best suits you.
- Is there a suite onsite for getting ready and dressing?
- What style of parking is provided (private lot, garage, valet, street, or none)?
- Is there onsite lodging or a partnership with a nearby hotel for accommodations?
- Is a ceremony space onsite and, if so, is a room flip required?
- Is there enough space to host a cocktail hour?
- Are tables, chairs, and linens provided?
- Are there additional in-house décor options that can be used, such as centerpieces, an arbor, signage, etc.?
- Are there in-house services, such as coordination, that can be secured?
- What are the rules regarding catering and bar services?
- What are the fees related to the venue separate from the rental fee (service fee, ceremony set-up, extra hours, etc.)?
- What guest count can comfortably be seated within the ceremony and/or reception space?
Lastly, a factor in your decision-making process may be vendors that are, or are not, able to be used within your desired venue. You will see a few words thrown around as you inquire: open vendor policy, preferred vendor policy and exclusive vendor policy. Generally speaking, an open vendor policy means if a vendor is licensed and insured, they are allowed to provide services at that venue. A preferred vendor policy means the venue will provide you with a list of options you can choose from. There may be an option to choose a vendor outside of the provided list, but this will likely result in a fee. An exclusive vendor policy means the venue has chosen the vendor in that category – whether it be bar, entertainment, catering, etc. – that is allowed to provide services in their facility. Asking clarification questions throughout the inquiry and touring process is always a good idea when it comes to vendors, vendor lists and policies.
Congratulations! You are now you are armed with the proper way to begin your search for the perfect wedding venue. As you tackle the first step in your wedding planning process know that there is no such thing as a silly question! Ask the same questions at each venue tour to ensure you can compare offerings, services and pricing accurately. And, most importantly, have fun!
Pictured Venue: Hawthorne House
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