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Happily Ever After is a faith led mother/daughter team that cares deeply for our clients. We will go that extra mile to ensure our brides experience with us surpasses their expectations and dreams.

a mother & daughter planning duo

We are Lynn & Jessica.

Vendor Series: A Planner’s Perspective (Venue)


Hello loves! We are sorry we’ve been MIA with this blog series. If you’ve been keeping up with us on social media, you know that we just took part in a style shoot, and boy, was that time consuming! But fabulous none the less. Now that it’s over, we can focus on this blog post about choosing your venue! We feel that choosing your venue is often the hardest decision you will make in the planning process because it sets the tone for the entire event. This is a big deal! So we’d like to shed some insight on how to make this process a little more enjoyable. PS if you have brought on someone to do full planning for you, they take a lot of the “burden” off of your shoulders. They call ahead to make sure the venue fits all your needs/requirements and then helps you set up site visits and answer any questions you may have!

You may or may not know, that wedding venues are a dime a dozen, and there is a broad spectrum available. Here in the Raleigh/Durham area there is a wide variety, but these venue types are likely available in most major towns and cities. Before beginning your venue hunt, ask yourself what style (or styles) speaks to you most. Try to envision your wedding day as best as you can and narrow down a couple of venue types that best suit your style. Some of the venue types are (but not limited to!): plantation style homes, urban warehouses, rustic farms, ballrooms, backyards, gardens, museums, restaurants, vineyards, lodges, conference centers, resorts.. and the list goes on and on! You can even look outside the box at places that you normally wouldn’t think of for a wedding. We have a couple of weddings on deck that are actually at airports!

Once you hone in on your venue style, there are a plethora of things to consider and we’ve tried to map them out for you as best as possible. We find that the most common requirements couples are looking for are the following


Hopefully before you’ve started choosing any vendor, you’ve come up with an estimated budget for your entire wedding. If you haven’t, stop and do that now! If you have unlimited funds, it isn’t as imperative, but we still feel it’s important. When looking at venues, be sure to find out the price first before you visit. If it doesn’t fit into your budget, we do not suggest you even visit. If your budget is negotiable, then that is a different story. But wouldn’t it be a bummer to fall in love with the place and not be able to afford it? That’s torture!


Once you’ve determined it to be in your budget, the next big question: is your ideal date available? Some of you might be flexible with dates, which will certainly give you a higher chance of finding a venue much faster. But if you have a certain season (or even a specific date) in mind, ask about it and then determine how to proceed.

Guest Capacity

If the venue can accommodate your date, find out if they can accommodate your guest count. Some venues are limited with how many people they allow. If you have a high guest count (200 or more) you might have a trickier time finding a venue. There are venues out there that can house this number, however!


Next is location. This may not be very important to everyone. But do consider how far your guests will have to travel to get there. If you have out of town guests, are there hotels nearby? If any of your guests have to fly, how far away is the airport to that hotel? Do you need to provide transportation if your guests are without cars? All of these things need to be considered when choosing a venue.


Are you looking to choose a venue that can accommodate ceremony AND reception? Most venues can, but double check to be sure. If you are wanting the ceremony off site, are you willing to handle the logistics that go into this? Think about the distance between properties and how your guests will get to and from locations.

Rain Plan

If the wedding you envision is outside under a beautiful blue sky (or night sky), you have to think about a back up plan incase the weather isn’t so “wedding friendly”. We know, we know, it’s NOT going to rain on your wedding day.. but, if it does, you must be prepared! Ask the venue what their rain plan is and how that is handled if that plan needs to be executed. (Hint: having a coordinator/planner really helps here!)

Preferred Vendors

Lastly, you’ll want to ask if the venue has a limited list of vendors to choose from. Usually the only vendors that often tend to be preferred are caterers, rentals, and planners. Preferred vendors are different than recommended vendors. Sometimes venues will offer a list of vendors they have worked with before and recommend, so the list is meant to be more of a guide. If they require you to hire a vendor (caterer for example), you MUST choose a caterer from that list. This may not be a factor for you. The one instance it may be is if you’re dead set on a vendor before choosing a venue. For example, you may hire us before finding a venue, and if we aren’t on the preferred list for planners, we may not be able to work there. Some venues actually have in-house planners and may not allow any planners to be on board. Crazy, we know. This is why you must check this out ahead of time.

Now that you have narrowed down some venues that best suit your needs, you will then  need to schedule a tour to see the properties and ask some additional questions.

Some of those may include:

-Alcohol policy

-Rental time period

-Rules and restrictions

-What all is included (tables, chairs, ect)

-Private room(s) for bridal party (not essential, but a nice perk)

-Deposit requirement and payment schedule

-Cancellation policy

-Special Event Insurance requirements

-Rehearsal options


-Noise ordinances

By this point, you should of at least narrowed down a couple of venues your heart is set on. Now it comes down to making the decision to book. In our experience with previous clients, we have noticed that venues book fast (like in a matter of hours fast), especially Saturdays. The longer you wait, the higher risk you run of losing that venue as an option for your date. This can be devastating, and we have seen more than once a deflated spirit because of this. If you love it, and all of the requirements you need are met, snatch it up as soon as possible!

Once your venue is locked in and your date is on their calendar, the planning process can really take off and become a fun adventure. If you have any other questions regarding venues, or need help finding one, we’d love to help you!

Happy planning!

xoxo Lynn & Jess




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