As a wedding photographer, I tell all of my brides “ Venue First, Photographer Second, Dress Third.” These three things tend to be the hardest and difficult to nail down, and after meeting soooo many brides over the past few weeks that are still looking for the perfect venue, I thought maybe I could help! Before becoming a wedding photographer I spent over 10 years in the hospitality industry and I have quite a bit of experience when it comes to planning events! So with that being said, here are a few things to consider when choosing your venue!

Logistics - Ya know.. the all the boring and logical stuff.

Aghhhhh I hate starting with this paragraph, but IT'S IMPORTANT! Let’s start with budget, you need have some idea in mind about what you can spend. There are sooooo many options here in the Lubbock area and they can range from a few hundred bucks to several thousands of dollars. Knowing how much you are able to spend will really help you narrow down your options Since we are getting the topic of money out of the way quickly, also make sure to ask about deposit/retainer information. 99.9999999999% of venues require some type of deposit to hold your date, and most of them are non-refundable so make sure you ask plenty of questions about this to make sure you are all on the same page before signing a contract.

Venue capacity is also very high on the list. If you know you are inviting 300 people, save your self some time by weeding out the ones who only hold 200. On this note, make sure to find out what the capacity is for different types of setups. The venue might hold 300, but not with a dance floor and a photo booth setup!

A few other things to ask about that fall into the logistic category are:

Transportation - Parking, Handicap Accessibility (we would hate for everyone to remember your wedding as the day Grandma broke her hip), Does Uber or Lyft run at your venue?

Season/Time of Day: Remember to think about what your venue will look like in the season you are getting married as well of the time of day. The venue will look much different on a February morning than an evening in August.

Rain/Wind/Snow - You know… those things that sometime happen all in one day here in West Texas! Be sure to ask about how the venue has handled bad weather situations in the past.

On that same note, I’ll end the boring stuff with Heat/AC questions. If you don’t want your guest using your cute little programs as a fan, be sure to ask if your venue has adequate heating and cooling.

Vibes

Ok, now we can get to the fun stuff! Are you looking for a formal night with your closest friends and families, a rustic barn wedding, a bohemian dream, or a mix of it all. Lubbock has a mix of it all! A great way to get a feel for this is to do some Instagram stalking. Look at both the photos that the venues post as well as the photos they are tagged in, this will give you an idea of the different ways your venue can be decorated to fit your style! While are Instagram stalking, go ahead and check out the other vendors who are tagged! You will most definitely find all sorts of cool ideas!

Here is a quick break down of venues that fall into separate categories:

Rustic - Horseshoe Knot, Cotton Creek Barn, Double B Party Barns, Four Bar K, Stone Creek Events, Kitaloo Gin, Fullford Barn, The American Wind Power Center

Bohemian/Eclectic - The LUHCA, Sophia’s Place, Mc Phereson Cellars, Social House Venue and Events.

Formal - The Watson Building, The Overton Hotel, Hilton Garden Inn, Llano Estacado, The Texas Tech Club, Lubbock Country Club, Lake Ridge Country Club, Hillcrest Country Club, Bella Vie, Legacy Event Center, Frazier Alumni Pavilion

Somewhere in Between - Eberley Brooks Event Center, Spirit Ranch, The Castle Event Center, Autumn Oaks Events, Twin Lakes Wedding and Event Center, Caprock Winery, Ransom Canyon Event Center, The Willow’s Event Center.

I apologize in advance if you are a venue reading this, because I know I missed someone somewhere, so if I missed your venue reach out and send me the info on it!

DIY, All Inclusive, or Somewhere in Between?

This is a tough one and many factors play into it. Ask yourself these three questions… Do you love DIYing? Do you have time/man power to do all of the things? Are you really going to save money by doing this yourself? Lots of venues have the option to take care of all of the little details for you! This is awesome for those who have crazy schedules already and who better to take care of your wedding than someone who does this everyday? My favorite new trend is also the places that offer (either for a fee or complimentary) access to their “closet” of decor. This is an AMAZING way to save yourself a TON of money. Plus… what in the world are you going to do with 20 candles, 30 vases, and 10 lanterns after the wedding is over. The third option is to do everything from start to finish. If you are super crafty and love a good DIY project, this is a dream come true!

One thing to definitely ask about thought no matter which bride you are is what is included with the venue. The cost of tables, chairs, and linen add up quickly.

Food and Beverage

This is an area you want to know the rules on. The venue has both city and state laws that pertain to this area and don’t be surprised when you find a few restrictions.

Alcohol: Who provides it? Who serves it? Who hires the person to serve it? What type of alcohol can we serve? Texas has many laws and regulations regarding the sale and purchase of alcohol. Also don’t be surprised to find out that the venue might also require security to be hired.

Food: Does your venue cater, and if so what is the food and beverage minimum? Also do they have an idea of the average price per person? Do they allow outside catering, and if so is there a preferred list you have to follow?

Randoms

Guest convince, hotel proximity, adequate power supply for DJ/Photo Booth, A/V Equiptment Rental/Capability on-site, Bride/Groom Suites for getting ready and are they big enough for your wedding party, Lighting (your photographer will love you for this. For example, if you love light and airy photos, a dark and dimly lit barn in December might not be the right fit for you.)

If you are still here, Thank you! I know this is a lot, but these things are things every bride needs to think about when looking for a venue! I hope this helps! Also if you would like more info on wedding planning, shoot us a message for a VIP invite to our upcoming Bridal Bootcamp!

xoxo-

Ashley

Ps… Feel free to dig around our blog to see photos from weddings at Eberley Brooks Events, Twin Lakes Wedding and Event Center, Le Chateau Venue, Bella Vie, The Mallet Event Center, Double B Party Barns, The American Wind Power Center, Llano Estacado Winery, Hilton Garden Inn, and The Castle Event Center.