By Casey Watson

As soon as couples get engaged, many questions begin to come their way. When should we get married? Where will the event take place? Can we afford our dream wedding?

There are so many different wedding venue options in the market that the task of making your choice can seem daunting and overwhelming. To ease those early planning jitters, here are five helpful steps to start planning your picture perfect wedding:

Step #1: Establish your budget.

You and your fiance should decide which parts of your wedding celebration are most important to you and how you would like to divide up the funds you have available.

Step #2:  Create an initial guest list.

Choosing a small, intimate affair or a large extravagant celebration will help you determine which venues will meet your needs. Many locations have guest count maximums, so knowing how many people you plan to invite will narrow down your search.

Step #3: Decide on the theme you are both envisioning.

Would you prefer indoor or outdoor? A barn or vineyard? Ballroom event space or an intimate garden? These types of questions will help you seek out venues that meet an ambiance that suits you both best.

Step #4: Contact venues that fit your criteria to determine availability.

Every venue will have differing availability, so being flexible with your date will help keep your options open especially once you find the venue that suits all of your wants thus far.   Once the budget, guest list, and theme has been established, it’s good to know that most venues book anywhere from 12 months to 18 months in advance.

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Step #5: Compare available venues and amenities to determine the best fit.

The final step in making your decision should be based on what types of amenities and inclusions/exclusion the venue offers. It’s good to take the top three venues that you are most serious about and compare them side-by-side to make an informed decision. This is also the perfect time to go online to read reviews of the venues and to look at photographs to help you envision your special occasion.

Once you have narrowed down your choices, schedule site visits. Contact the venue to set up a tour and get a preliminary proposal. Each venue will have information on their packages, and so have questions ready!

Best of luck and happy venue hunting!

Casey Watson, Sales Manager at Linden Row Inn.  Linden Row Inn is a historic wedding venue and inn with beautiful indoor and outdoor space as well as guest accommodations for Richmond weddings.