HOW TO FIND THE
VENUE AND SUPPLIERS
You start of course with a good dose of inspiration. You begin to put together a vision of the day, so you’ll know what to look for to find the right wedding venue and suppliers that will help you achieve that.
In my previous article – “Where to start planning your wedding” – I talked about defining your style and story for your wedding. How to translate that into your wedding and how to prioritise everything before you begin planning. By following these steps you’ll understand what you need and want for your wedding better. And that will make it easier to search for the venue that is a perfect canvas for your vision. It will help you find the right suppliers, communicate your ideas and style, properly and consistently, and it will make your decision process a breeze.
I’m going to assume that you’ve read that article and will jump right in, to give you some tips on how to find the right venue and suppliers for your wedding. If you haven’t read it, please do (you can read it here), because it ties in with this one.
The process of finding a venue and suppliers that will make your wedding vision come to life, is in my opinion just as important as figuring out what you want from your wedding day. So, let’s look at a few steps you can take to make sure you do that right.
Focus your search
Irrespective of how well you know what you want, you’ll still have to do a good deal of research to find a great place and the right people to hire for your day. It’s not enough to settle on the first finds and hope that everything will come out just right.
Yes, on very rare occasions it’s possible to click with someone right away and you know it in your gut that they are right for you. But most often, you’ll have to talk to several people before you can decide.
Something to Consider Before you Start
When it comes to wedding professionals, it’s important to understand that everyone has their strengths. And most people will also have an inclination/passion for a certain style. I for example, like to work on weddings that focus on romance, natural elegance and understated luxury, that are also fun and brimming with personality. I use eclectic decor, gorgeous florals, and add local, cultural touches, to create a timeless look and experience that is specific to the couple and the family they are bringing together.
Distinctive details with personal meaning and a beautiful aesthetic are my thing. On the other hand, I have colleagues in the industry who love to keep aesthetics simple, and focus on creating upbeat, super fun, no-fuss celebrations. And others who are all about impeccable looking, black-tie, ultra-luxury kind of wedding. Does that mean that we can’t create other types of weddings? No, of course not. But our work becomes truly awesome, when we work with couples whose dream wedding is what we do best. And in one way or another the same is true for any supplier you’ll hire.
So, aim to find those suppliers who understand your vision and whose passion is what you want. That doesn’t mean though, that they must have created your exact wedding, for a past couple. It’s rather about their overall style and approach to weddings, aligning with your vision. And of course, having a good rapport with them is essential.
The same applies to finding the right wedding venue. Some venues, for example, might have the perfect look, but their terms or the cost could limit some of the things that you want to do, like decorations, entertainment, etc. Some compromise is inevitable with weddings, but it’s up to you to decide what you’re willing to compromise on. So, pay attention to the details.
Where to search for wedding venues, suppliers & inspiration
Finding the visual inspiration to help you communicate your vision to them, is a first step. And there are several ways to go about researching for your wedding. I suggest you make a plan and try all of them, so you can decide which combination is right for you. There are advantages and limitations to each method, so it’s important to look in multiple places.
Google is a great resource, but you need to be quite resourceful with your searches and look further than page one. Use it to find venues, suppliers, and help articles. Other search engines will work just as well of course, but you will get slightly different results with each – this is the researcher in me speaking, by the way. I personally found that often you can get the best results in the most unexpected places, so dig deep :).
Some of the apps are great visual search mediums, which is ideal for finding wedding inspiration. I suggest you start with this one as you’ll be looking for inspiration first anyway. For weddings, Pinterest and Instagram (and Facebook to a certain extent) are the best places to look for inspiration, save imagery and ideas, and create vision boards. And often that can help you find wedding venues and suppliers as well.
The list of wedding blogs today is very extensive. Each caters to a certain style of weddings and/or aesthetic, and in many cases to certain locations as well. There are regional blogs, national blogs, national with destination features blogs, and international blogs. All of them focus on providing inspiration and advice for your wedding. But the real weddings and editorials they feature in their articles are also a great place to look for suppliers whose work you love. And most blogs also have a directory with a handful of wedding suppliers and/or venues who cater to the style of weddings featured there.
You’ll find wedding blogs as you start searching for inspiration, both through search engines and social media. Here are my top favourite blogs -you might like some of them:
Not quite as many as the wedding blogs, the directories differentiate mostly by location, not aesthetic. They’re a good resource to find a long list of venues and suppliers by location, but you should know that while you’ll find some suppliers/venues in several of them, you won’t find certain suppliers in any of them. Also, some will feature everything, from venues to every type of supplier and shops you’ll need to look for. While others focus just on venue features.
Here are a few examples of some of the larger wedding directories that you can check out. I’ll leave it up to you to decide which ones, if any, are right for you:
3. The Knot
4. Easy Weddings Australia
6. Weddings Abroad Guide
UK & International
Coco Wedding Venues
how to search
If you’ve gone through the first steps (see the article I mentioned at the start of this post), then the research should be really easy. From the list that you’ve created to describe your 7 wedding elements, select the words that stand out and define your overall wedding style and atmosphere. Use those in your searches.
To find inspiration, don’t look for the exact image of what you’re trying to achieve. Instead search for the right vibe and style. Select images that speak to you on an emotional level as well. Think about how they make you feel.
Also, look outside of weddings, in fields like architecture, design, fashion, art, nature, etc. Whatever you find inspiring. It’ll be easier to create something original when you’re not starting from a pre-existing look. And I’m not saying that everything about your wedding has to be original – it would be unrealistic. But you should focus more on what you like in general and what makes you tick, rather than looking at what others are doing.
Use your descriptive words to find hashtags or boards, on Instagram and Pinterest. Or if you’re searching on blogs and directories, look for your words in descriptions and articles. You won’t always find something relevant. But when you do find a hashtag or board that has consistently good images, that you find inspiring, follow it and start saving the best ones. If you find images that you love, or words that speak to you, check out who’s behind them. Besides inspiration you might also find a supplier.
As you start to find venues and suppliers, look everywhere for evidence that their approach and style are what you’re after. Look on their platforms for images, statements and advice that speak to you on a personal level.
The selection Process
When choosing your venue(s) or suppliers, always aim to have a few options to pick from. Review websites, social media profiles and talk to the people behind the business. But most importantly try to have a phone or video chat, if meeting in person is not possible. A few words over the phone, or in person can make all the difference in telling if you are a good fit. Your priority list will give you an indication of who you should aim to see in person before committing.
The venue is the one thing that you really shouldn’t book without seeing in person. Look at every space you are considering in detail. Photos can look wonderful, but they can often be misleading in terms of space and details, which you’ll have to appreciate in person. The same goes for service and presentation.
Preferably you should also have a tasting with the caterers before booking them. Even if they come highly recommended, you still want to make sure that they are right for your wedding. You’ll want to evaluate presentation, taste, style & service.
How to Choose
Think of questions you want to ask each person, service or venue you contact, and write them down. Check their website and social media first, and for the unanswered questions talk to them. Focus on what is most important to you as well, don’t just ask generic questions.
For each service ask the same set of questions, and then evaluate all the selected suppliers and venues for the same values, perks, skills. Concentrate on your style and priorities – think style match, your interaction with them, budget, drawbacks, etc. Use a grading system to decide how they all score in each category. Those who fare the best in all or most categories will be your normal pick. Although I have to say that often, in doing this exercise, you’ll also get a strong gut feeling about one that you prefer.
The best advice I can give you is to aim to work with people who listen a lot and look genuinely excited hearing your vision. And look for bespoke services, because that will mean everything will be tailored to your requirements and vision.
communicate your vision right
I cannot emphasize on this enough. The right wedding pro will be able to do wonders for your special day. But it’s a tough thing to create something to your liking, or that has personal value, if you don’t communicate your style and vision right.
You want, of course, to work with people you can trust to do an amazing job without any handholding. You don’t have to give precise instructions. But the more they get to know you and the clearer you are about your ideas, what you like and what you don’t, the more of your personality and style will come through on your wedding day. So, communicate everything clearly and consistently to everyone.
How to Communicate your Ideas and Vision
Use plenty of words to describe your style and how you envision the day, so every person working on your wedding gets the right message. Be methodical and where possible provide a small document with a brief that your suppliers can use as a guide. Having everything in writing, consistent and well organised will allow everyone to review the same details along the way and make sure the result is on point and cohesive.
You don’t have to spend too much time preparing this though. Create a template document and just change the photos and the descriptions as relevant to each segment of your wedding. You can use Word or PowerPoint to create the template. This way you won’t spend ages emailing everyone all the details.
Offer the logistical details (like timings, locations, numbers and sizes, etc.) as well as a description of the style you’re trying to achieve, and your likes / interests that you wish to use in your wedding. Use the descriptive words you’ve written down at the beginning of this process (i.e. when communicating to a caterer, use the words you selected to describe the catering section of your wedding). And where relevant, add a selection of imagery that you have saved when looking for inspiration. If you save your inspiration images on Pinterest boards, make sure to share those with your chosen suppliers. Ask them to use those images as a starting point and aim to create something bespoke to you.
Finally, make all communication, including the brief, relevant to their services / product only. Not everyone will need to get all the details. And not everyone will need to see images or know your choice of colour palette.
I honestly don’t believe in “shoulds” for weddings. I think a wedding is just about the couple and what makes them happy, no matter what that is. But I do believe in being organised from the start, writing things down, doing your research properly, being crystal clear on who you are and what you want, being able to get that across to others and choosing to work with the right people. These things are the sure way to having an awesome experience on your wedding day – whatever that looks like.
In your searches, you’ll come across plenty of advice on how to plan your wedding. I read a lot of articles myself, because it’s part of my job. A lot of them are entertaining, inspiring and give some pretty sound advice. But not everything’s gold. So my last piece of advice to you, is to take everything with a pinch of salt. Use your instincts and don’t get caught up in “shoulds”.
Now, go on and plan that wonderful wedding of yours.
Have a great day,
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Original image by Inna Kostukowsky