For week two of the bridal wedding series, we are talking about choosing the perfect wedding venue. This is one detail of wedding planning that sets the mood and style of your wedding day and plays a huge role in your wedding experience for you and your guests. Today we are talking with Hannah from one of the top venues in Cleveland Oh, The Lake Erie Building. Hannah breaks down this process and helps make it seem less intimidating. She walks through the questions to ask when touring venues, and what to look out for when choosing your perfect wedding venue!

You definitely want to bookmark this one!!

Meet Hannah

Hi friends! My name is Hannah and I am the director of events at the Lake Erie Building. I’ve been guiding others through wedding planning for seven years now and have helped more than 300 couples walk down the aisle. I am a certified wedding planner through the Bridal Society though most of what I do these days is strictly from a venue standpoint. Outside of work, I reside in a southern suburb of Cleveland with my husband of six years, our two dogs, and 18-month-old daughter. I love to garden – I’m growing a huge flower garden this year – and I also really enjoy baking.

Lake erie building wedding venue and florals
Photograph by: This Lovely Light

Choosing The Perfect Wedding Venue

So you’ve recently got engaged and Aunt Sally keeps asking when is the big day? A question that’s a bit difficult to answer until you find your venue. The venue is usually the first piece of the puzzle and the most stressful. It seems that venues are popping up on every corner offering something different at vastly different price points. Even though you have a vision in mind for your wedding day, how do you choose the perfect wedding venue?

Make a list of the venues that catch your eye. Next you will want to email or call them for more information. Before scheduling a tour, make sure you know their price, capacity, and what dates are available. If any of these three points are outside of what you’re comfortable with – don’t tour that space! It’s okay to tell a vendor, I’m sorry but that’s not going to work for us. I also strongly recommend touring alone, as a couple – at least at first! Once you’ve selected a location, that’s when you should bring your parents, siblings, and aunt Sally back to see the space and start daydreaming of décor.

Questions To Ask during Your Venue Tour

When you are touring, make sure you get a rundown on everything that’s included and everything that’s not. Hannah recommends to bring a pen and notebook to keep notes in or ask to record the conversation you have with the venue coordinator, so you can go over everything once you’re back at home. Make sure you come prepared! Here are a few questions she recommends to ask:

  1. Are tables and chiavari chairs included?  At the Lake Erie Building, we include tables and chiavari chairs for all your guests whereas some venues are simply the space and everything else needs to be rented in.
  2. What does the bridal and groom suites look like? This helps you plan out if this is a space you would like to get ready in or if you need to consider another location. If you are getting ready photos done, does it have good natural lighting for your photographer.
  3. Are there preferred vendors you are required to use? For example, some venues have a list of caterers that are required for you to use. Some couples love this and some others like to bring in their own.
  4. Are you allowed to serve alcohol? Yes, there are venues that don’t allow alcohol. If so, you need to ask can you bring it in or do you have to get it through the venue’s vendor.
  5. Is there an additional fee for a ceremony onsite?  Most venues offer two spaces for ceremony and reception, but there can sometimes there can be a fee to have your full wedding day there.
  6. What time does my event have to end and what time does everything need to be out of the space?  Make sure you take notes on this. Each venue has their own guidelines for this. So come in beforehand with an idea of how late you want your reception to go til.
Lake Erie Building wedding ceremony exit
Photography by: This Lovely Light
Photograph by: Mallory and Justin

The Planning Process with Your Wedding Venue

Once you have chosen your perfect wedding venue, give them a call or email to let them know you’d like to book. 

Following the booking process, you will start setting up your planning meetings. This is where the fun begins! Your first planning meeting will mostly like occur six months prior to your wedding date. This may seem too far in advance, but this gives you the ability to book your core vendor team and really narrow in on the details. Remember your wedding coordinator is here to help you along the way!

What To Expect at a Planning Meeting

At a planning meeting, you can expect to go over your vendor selections and walkthrough of the whole space. Going over the floor plan for your wedding day.

At the Lake Erie Building, all our floor plans are custom. This is where we sit down with you to discuss your wants and needs, and go over the vision boards and ideas you may have. Don’t be afraid to bring in any items you want to hang or have included in the space. This not only helps you to brainstorm with your venue coordinator, but start to see your vision come to life.

Hannah also recommends that you ask your venue coordinator if you are able to see the venue when setup for a wedding. She has found that this helps her couples understand the spacing of the venue and to see the space in different lighting. Most likely when you tour the space, it will be empty and during the day. So if you are able to see the space during a wedding event, you can see what the lighting will look like during your reception.  Granted it’s not always possible to accommodate these requests, it never hurts to ask!

Lastly, if your venue is providing the catering, this is likely when you’ll have your tasting and select your menu choices. This is a great time to bring your florist, photographer, family, or anyone that may be helping you make the space your own! communicate with your venue who you are bringing to the taste testing, so they can accommodate everyone.

The final planning meeting usually occurs two weeks prior to your wedding. This meeting generally includes the finalizing of plans and going over what to expect on the day(s) of your rental. This meeting is Hannah’s personal favorite! It’s when everything sets in and the couple realizes that they’ll be in the space just a couple weeks later celebrating their marriage!

Lake Erie Building wedding ceremony exit
Photography by: Lizzie Schlafer

How To Enjoy the Wedding Planning Process

Wedding planning can be stressful, and as cliché as it sounds, make sure you take the time to enjoy it! Hannah shares a few ideas for this:

  • Have a first look. Most couples like to stick to traditions, but having this time with your fiancé(e) before you make it official can be really calming. And I promise your walk down the aisle will still be just as special. 
  • If you haven’t seen the reception space set up for your specific event, ask to see if before the rest of your guests. Make sure your planner and photographer are on board so the room is ready to go when you arrive! 
  • Dance your feet off! Get on that dance floor – there will never again be a wedding that will have this specific group of people in attendance. So be on the center of the dance floor all night. This will encourage your guests to get out there and dance too! AND to go along with this, make sure you hire an amazing DJ – don’t skimp here – they keep the party going! 
black and white lake erie building wedding couple

Stay True To Yourself

If I could give one piece of advice to every couple, it’s stay true to yourselves! Between Pinterest and Instagram, I almost feel like weddings have turned somewhat into a competition of beauty. This inherently isn’t bad, but can easily tie a couple into a wedding that’s trendy and maybe not necessarily “them”. Have the wedding that is uniquely you, no matter what that looks like. Remember when choosing your perfect wedding venue, your wedding should be a celebration that highlights you as a couple and your love story!

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