The Big 3

You’re engaged! You called all your family and friends, you posted your bling on Instagram and you found the perfect coordinator… now what? It’s time to start working on the Big 3; venue, date & budget. Your venue is the backbone of your event, it will set the tone and style of the wedding and will often be one of the largest expenses. To choose the perfect venue there are a few things you should do first.

Azurae Shults

Borrowed & Bleu Columnist Azurae Shults

1. Build your guest list 
Talk to both of your parents and have everyone make a must-have list. Etiquette used to say that whomever is hosting (aka paying for the wedding) has veto power on the guest list. Nowadays a lot of the old etiquette rules don’t really apply. I’ve found that families do better now when everyone builds an A list and a B list and compromises. Once the venue is chosen then you come back to the list to determine how many guests everyone can safely invite. I always say you should expect 80% of your guest list to attend- so don’t over invite!
2. Make a list of must-have amenities
Some examples may look like this:
Must have an outdoor ceremony location
Must have an indoor space in case of rain or extreme wind
Must allow hard alcohol
Must have vineyard setting
3. Determine a wedding budget 
This is an area that is helpful for all involved. If money is no object then skip this step! But for most, a set budget will prevent over-spending. The price of venues range from $7,000-$12,000 in the greater Paso Robles area. Please note: there are plenty of venues that are outside of this range but this is a good guideline for starting out.
Once you’ve gotten through the Big 3, you’re ready to shop!
If you are working with a coordinator then he/she will recommend venues that fit your criteria and take you on tours to see the space and present layout ideas.
Good questions to ask when touring a venue are:

  • Do they require a coordinator?
  • When do we have access to the venue? When do we have to be out?
  • Does the venue provide rentals?
  • Does the venue offer a bridal cottage?
  • Can we do a rehearsal the day before?
  • Does the venue require shuttles?
  • Does the venue follow the 10 p.m. curfew?
  • Does the venue allow outside alcohol?
  • What are the venue’s insurance requirements?
  • Does the venue book more than one event in a weekend?

Make sure you go into this process with a date range in mind. The more flexible, the better! Give the venue some dates to check when you inquire but don’t tour venues that can’t accommodate your date!
“Wedding Season” used to be from about May-September, but that certainly isn’t true anymore. With the large influx of wedding demands in this area, venues are opening their calendars year-round.
December through February is slower and sometimes you can earn an off-season discount. If you’re aiming for a wedding between April-October I recommend planning at least 10-12 months in advance. The majority of brides are giving themselves a year or more to plan. If you wait too long a few of your first picks could be taken!
I hope that with the help of a local coordinator you will be able to sit down, get through the Big 3 and find a venue that checks all of the boxes! If you’re planning a 2019 wedding, now is the perfect time to secure a venue and a date!

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Azurae Shults
Ciel Bleu Event Design