I want to tell you a story about the couple that spent MONTHS trying to find their dream wedding venue.
My friends – let’s call them Sue and Paul – were a fickle couple. Now this is normal for anxious fiancés, as they struggle to get on top of their wedding planning checklist.
After they got engaged back in 2016, they searched Google for months for ‘unique venues yarra valley’ and ‘wedding venues yarra valley’.
They visited a few, and then at the last minute, picked one of their least favourite because it was the only one that was available.
And they had a beautiful wedding in the end, but they still had that glimmer of regret in the backs of their minds as they tried to forget that their wedding venue wasn’t really their ideal choice.
It’s the best possible example of FOMO, but this time it matters, because it’s your wedding.
Your time is not replaceable.
When you deliberate over decisions that can be made easier with planning and forethought, you give away one of your finite resources – time.
And you can’t get that back.
I see couples just like my friends Sue and Paul who assume their favourite wedding venue will be available come their wedding day. So they take their time making up their minds, because they’re not sure how to filter through their list.
I want to help you speed up this process, so that you don’t miss out on the perfect backdrop to your perfect day.
That’s why I’ve created a list that requires a bit of effort, but in the long run, will help you save time.
FMPV’s venue filtering formula
The process is split up into two parts – Part A will help you collect the data you need to create a short list, and Part B will help you refine this shortlist even further.
Before you go on your tour:
Step 1: Get your itinerary
There area number of ways for you to begin your wedding tour.
You can either create one yourself using our directory of Yarra Valley and Dandenong Ranges venues, allow us to create you a custom, self-guided tour, or be treated to a unique, chauffeured experience where we hand pick the best locations for you, and personally take you to each.
Explore our options over here!
Step 2: Read online reviews
We live in a culture where we have so much information at our fingertips, so take advantage of it. For each wedding venue on your itinerary, make sure you go to five places for a bit of online snooping:
Google. Just type in “your wedding venue + reviews” and view the Google Business reviews. These are the search results with orange stars.
Yelp. Although it’s much bigger in America, Yelp is sometimes a valuable mine of Australian reviews.
Facebook. Check out their Business page and see what people are saying.
Instagram. Explore their comments section, and see how many people are following them.
Facebook groups. Join groups that are geo-specific, or check out Like Minded Bitches Drinking Wine. Be warned: the wedding venue owners might actually be members of these groups too, so be careful with how you word what you ask.
Looks for both negative, positive and neutral comments. What are people saying about the bathrooms? If they had a special on six months ago, is that special still valid? Remember these comments and make them a part of your questionnaire (see below).
Part B: The wedding venue questionnaire
A few days before your tour:
Once you’ve organised how you’ll go about completing your wedding tour (see the start of this post for our different options), it’s time to compile some questions.
Wait…Do I have to ask every single one of these questions?
This questionnaire may be customised to suit venues where you’ll have both the ceremony and reception. For example, you might want to omit some if you’ll have the ceremony and reception separately.
I want to stress here that you don’t actually have to verbally ask each of these questions! But you do need to find out the answer to each questions to help you decide which venue is the best for your wedding. If you don’t want to feel like you’re interrogating them, you can find out the answers to these by looking at the FAQs on their website, or they might even answer a question on their FMPV directory listing.
When is peak season for you?
What are the price differences for different days and seasons?
How soon in advance should we book the wedding venue?
Is there a discount for advance bookings?
How many weddings do you have per day?
How long does a booking last for?
What are your busiest days?
If we want exclusive use for the day, do we have to pay extra?
How long do we have to use the venue?
Does the rehearsal dinner cost extra to book?
Are there separate rooms for the ceremony and reception?
If yes, how far apart are they?
Do you have a floor plan available?
Do you have a marquee?
Do you organise the seating, or do we?
What’s your max capacity?
Do you have chairs/tables for hire?
Are we allowed to bring in our own chairs/tables from an external vendor?
Is their space for reception, or will we have to book elsewhere?
If we have to book elsewhere, do you have a deal with nearby reception venues?
What type of tables do you have (shape, size)?
Is the venue wheelchair accessible?
Where do guests park?
How many parking spots are available?
Is there a train station/bus stop/shuttle service nearby?
How many toilets are there?
What’s your backup plan for poor weather conditions?
Is there a cloakroom available?
Where can we store wedding gifts?
Is there a wedding coordinator and what exactly do they do?
Is the venue near any good hotels?
What childcare facilities are available?
If the venue is in a residential area, are there any noise restrictions?
Can the venue accommodate a DJ or live band? Are there any restrictions?
Where’s the best spot for the entertainment to set up?
How large is the dance floor?
Do you have a sound system with speakers, or will we have to hire our own?
Do you have microphones for speeches?
Can I hook my computer, phone or tablet up to your sound system?
Vendors, food and rentals
Do you offer catering?
Can you accommodate special dietary requirements? Vegan? Gluten Free? Halal? Kosher? Fructose free?
If catering is available, can we trial the menu first?
If not, are you affiliated with other vendors?
Can we use other vendors for catering, and is there an extra charge for this?
What facilities are available if I use an external caterer?
In terms of seating, tables, plates, silverware, glassware and alcohol, is this included in the cost or hiring the venue?
Is there a cake-cutting fee?
Do you have a liquor license?
If I’m not bringing in my own alcohol, how is alcohol priced, and is there a charge for bar staff?
Is there a bar minimum that must be met?
What is the average bar tab for my size guest list?
How early can vendor deliveries be made?
How early can we get to your venue to set up?
How long do we have to clean up/tear down?
Are there samples of the rentals available to look at?
What are the restrictions for decor (including what you can and can't toss, lighting restrictions, what you can hang from the ceiling and on the walls, candles, glitter, rice, etc.)?
Financials and legailities
Can you provide an exact break down of fees?
Is there a discount for an off-season date or Sunday through Friday?
How much is the deposit, and when is it due?
When is the balance due?
What forms of payment do you accept?
What is your cancellation policy?
Is the deposit refundable in case of cancellation?
Do you have liability insurance?
Do you accommodate same sex civil ceremonies?
Is there a minimum spend?
Is there first night accommodation (honeymoon suite) for the bride and groom?
Is there overnight accommodation for the wedding party and the parents of the bride and groom?
What is the cost of overnight accommodation?
If you don’t offer accommodation, do you offer a deal with hotels nearby?
Is the bridal party able to get ready at the venue?
What spaces are available for privacy? If you need to take a breath or talk to your best friend in peace, can you go somewhere quiet to do so?
Is there air conditioning or heating?
We recommend copying and pasting these questions into an external Word document or Text Edit file for each wedding venue. Once you have all of the answers, it’s then time to weight up the no’s, the yes’s and the costs to find which venue suits your needs best.
Download our pre-prepared checklist right here
Best of luck with your search!