When Should You Have a Wedding Venue Site Visit?
Hint: You should have some idea of your final guest count before you do this.
While you can book a venue sight-unseen, few couples choose this option—and for good reason. As Valarie Falvey, owner of Kirkbrides Wedding Planning & Design in Cleveland, Ohio, explains, "the goals for a venue site visit include seeing the true appearance and aesthetics of the location, but also getting acquainted with the [venue's] rules, pricing, logistics, and setup," which are all important pieces to planning the perfect wedding day. Whether or not you've been there before, once you've officially selected your venue, you'll want to come back at least once before your wedding to finalize the finer details.
But when should you do that? And how many times is it reasonable to return? According to Falvey, "A site visit should be done as soon as the estimated guest count is figured out." That means you can start looking at the space in terms of what you'll need for your celebration. The timeline of when to have a post-booking site visit varies from couple to couple, but you'll want to do your best to get there at least once before your big day. Should the venue be within driving distance from your home or somewhere that you visit more frequently, it's always better to go more than once, especially with critical vendors like your wedding planner, florist, and photographer, Falvey says, but "don't try to include too many people," or you might have a hard time making decisions.
Be sure to ask to see the furniture—or pictures of the furniture—as well as "tables, chairs, and linens, as this will help determine your true final price if you need to add in the cost of renting these items," Falvey explains. You should also ask if there are "any timing restrictions, what the minimum food and beverage spend requirements are, and browse menus with pricing," Falvey says. And "check out the room you can get ready in and the bathrooms," Falvey adds, which can help you get a complete picture of the venue.
Falvey recommends seeing the venue both during the day and at night, and ideally at the same time of year when you plan to tie the knot. "Make sure you are going when it's light outside," Falvey says. "Many couples work during the day during the week, so an evening appointment in the late fall or winter for an outdoor venue wouldn't be helpful because you'd be touring in the dark," conditions opposite of what your wedding will be in—and completely unhelpful when it comes to actually seeing the space. If you saw the venue for the first time during the day, ask if you can go back right around sunset to get a better idea of what guests will experience.
As for how many times you should visit the venue, that'll vary from couple to couple. While it's definitely not realistic to see a space on a weekly basis, it's more than reasonable to work with your venue coordinator to arrange anywhere from two to five planning visits, depending on their availability. Should you really feel it's necessary to go back more often than that, work with your venue to visit on off-peak days, like midweek.