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8 Things to Look For on Your California Wedding Venue Tour

You have the ring on your finger, and you’ve told your friends and family about your engagement – probably making them cry with joy! Suddenly, the hazy dream of a wedding you had as a child is now just around the corner.

We know you’re excited about finding your perfect outfit, tasting cake with your partner, and picking out the floral arrangements, but don’t get ahead of yourself! The very first thing you need to do is nail down your venue.

The venue is the starting point for your planning, which puts quite a bit of pressure on choosing the perfect one. But it’s important not to get swept up by the gorgeous photos and instead see the location for yourself before signing on any dotted lines. This way, you can get a feel for the space and meet the onsite team.

When you scout a venue, remember that it isn’t just about sightseeing and taking Insta-worthy photos. Instead, you should come into it with a purpose to make the most out of your visit!

If that all sounds intimidating, don’t worry. This blog will detail a few things you should look out for when touring wedding venues.


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Make inquiries

Before you even think about booking an onsite tour, you need to do your research. You don’t want to make a trip out of it only to find out the environment doesn’t match your vision, the price is outside your budget, or the venue can’t hold your entire guest list.

When you get in touch with the venue coordinator, have a few questions prepared, such as:

  • How many hours is the rental?
  • What is the maximum number of guests?
  • Are there equipment/event packages?
  • Do we have to spend a minimum amount?
  • Is there an exclusive hire option?
  • What is your cancellation policy?

Of course, these are simply a starting point — always ask about specific things you want so you know your venue will be able to bring your vision to life!

Book at the right time

We know your wedding isn’t for another few months, but try to have an idea of the time of day and season you want it to take place. Most engaged couples plan their wedding up to a year in advance, so you have plenty of time to scout!

It’s a good idea to plan your site visit at the same time of day and the season you chose for your wedding to see the lighting, get a feel for the temperature, and understand what the space will be like on your special day. This way, you know whether you’ll need add-ons such as heaters, fans, or special lighting.

Tour while another event is setting up

It pays to check out each venue more than once. For example, on your first visit, you can go around the grounds while no events are taking place to take in the whole space. Then, ask the venue team if it’s possible to check out the site while their team is preparing it for another event.

The picturesque, sweeping landscapes will look different without the equipment and decor set up. This second tour will also give you a feel for how the staff works together. Are they able to keep everything orderly? Does the event feel organized or chaotic?

Ask about lighting and equipment

If you were able to tour the site during another event, you might have already seen the lighting, sound, and other equipment in action. If not, try asking if they can show you what onsite options they have available.

If the lighting or sound equipment doesn’t meet your expectations, it may not be a dealbreaker — you can easily turn up the ambiance with rentals. But checking out their systems will give you a better idea of whether you need to rent or not, so you start budgeting as early as possible.

Walk around

Though you’ll be taking plenty of photos throughout your tour, it’s about more than just looking at the main ceremony and reception spots – you’ll want to cover the entire venue. Remember that this is where you’ll be taking photos that will last for years to come, which is why walking around the grounds is so important. 

Head to the parking area to check whether it can accommodate all of your guests. Then, walk to the actual ceremony or reception site. This will give you an idea of your guests’ comfort. If the main area is hard to find, you may need to put up floral arches or decorations along the way. If the walk is too long, you can ask about shuttle services for elderly or less mobile guests.

Take a look at the restrooms

One thing you should never skip out on during your venue tour? The restrooms. You’d be surprised how much a dirty bathroom can impact the success of your event, especially if you and your guests have to hold your beautiful outfits away from leaks or messes.

These often-forgotten places are the true marker of a venue’s attention to detail. For example, check if everything in the restroom is clean and functional and if the toilet paper, soap, and other essentials are fully stocked. You can also check if their bathrooms are accessible for people with wheelchairs or other mobility aids.

Ask about unique wedding elements

While you’re at the site, it’s good to check whether it can accommodate any special requests you might have. For example, maybe you want a photo booth or prop that people can take pictures with, like a dressed-up vintage carriage, or space to set up lawn games. Talk to the venue coordinator and ask whether your requests are feasible or what compromises you can come to if they’re not.

Make inquiries (again!)

Lastly, be sure to ask more questions. While you’re touring each venue, you’ll learn a lot about their policies and the space itself. This may help you think of additional questions that hadn’t come to mind before. Whatever it is, don’t be shy! Ask them all and allow the venue coordinator to address your inquiries firsthand. It’s better to speak up than agree to something you don’t fully understand.

Your venue is a vital part of your wedding, so follow these tips before saying, “I do!” And to our engaged couples in California, we invite you to visit us at Los Willows Wedding Estate. Reach out today so we can start making your dream wedding a reality!

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