It took me forever to find my wedding venue but guys it was well worth the wait. WE FINALLY HAVE THE DATE!!! May 12, 2018 I get to marry my best friend in the whole world, at the most beautiful venue I’ve laid my eyes on.  I could not be more EXCITED!!  This week I signed the contract for the Grand Ivory, a newer venue outside of McKinney, TX. I felt like I was at Barbie camp when I pulled up to this venue. Everything is laid out in the most quaint, adorable way. We will have the ceremony in the covered chapel which has the BEST lighting and of course if it rains (or is scorching hot for some reason), we will have shelter. The reception will be in the massive homestead. Take a look at the pics. 🙂 We also got a couple of shots back from our engagement shoot with Haley Ringo. She is THE BOMB photographer, you must check out her work. I love the ways she edits here photos. They’re not too dark or moody but still dramatic.

Next stop in wedding planning. Asking my bridesmaids and picking the colors! Wedding Venue Dani Austin engagement photosWedding Venue Dani Austin engagement photos

Dress: Free People Dress (Size XS) // Bracelet: Kendra Scott  

Pics of our venue: grand ivory wedding venuegrand ivory wedding venue grand ivory wedding venue grand ivory wedding venue

Photo credit: Grand Ivory

I had no idea the process to find my venue would be SO complicated and time consuming. No one really tells you what to look for, what questions to ask, and if you don’t have experience planning big events, it just feels downright confusing! That’s why I wanted to put together this wedding venue guide for you guys. If you missed my post about how to plan a wedding on a tight budget, make sure to check this post out! I’ve had great feedback so I hope it can help other people out!

It’s comparable to shopping for a house. I’d find venues on Wedding Wire I liked and had to reach out to each individual contact to ask these TWO CRITICAL QUESTIONS. #1 What Saturday do you have available in March, April, or May? #2 Can Hazel dog be the flower girl? (Hehe). No but really, here are some of the biggest points to consider when shopping for the big day.

The wedding industry is OLD SCHOOL. When it comes to choosing a venue, rates can become quite complicated. It’s not like shopping for a house where you can see the listings and prices liste online to compare comps and find the best deal. Venues typically don’t post their rates online so I had to wait for an email or phone response after I would reach out. (This could take 2-5 days, sometimes longer). Patience (and persistence) is a virtue!

Have questions written down, ready to ask. Bring a notebook! Each venue offers different sets of incentives. Some come with chairs, some require you to use their own caterer, others are open vendor policy so you can build your own venue from the ground up (which is what we are doing because it is more cost effective.) There is so much information given to you at each venue once you set up a tour. Trust me, you want to write down everything because it will be almost impossible to remember and when you start to compare costs. Date availability—cost for a Saturday during off season? Cost for Sunday during peak season? BLAH. There is so much. 

Here are some questions I’d ask when you go into your tour.

What day do you have available? CAN WE GO AHEAD AND PUT A SOFT HOLD ON THAT DATE? Yes. I’ve gone through a tour with a date in mind and by the time the tour was over another bride took the date available. #Savage

How many people can this venue hold? You want to know your guest list so you can receive accurate quotes on everything. 

Remember your budget. Break down your overall budget by category, prioritizing more funds for vendors that are a higher priority. 

How long can I have the venue? What’s the charge for going over? Trust me you do not want to be rushing and running around like a crazy person the day of your wedding. The venue I chose allows us to have the venue 11am-11pm.

What is included in the venue price?

Do you partner with your own vendors that I have to use or can I bring in my own? Can I have the list of preferred vendors to reach out to?

How much is the deposit and when is it due? Is there a payment plan option if I need it?

Is a rehearsal included in the price?

Is there a bridal changing area/get ready area or will I need to have an offsite location for that? What does it cost to use the house on site? You will make sure it’s realistic for you and your bridesmaids to get ready there or not.

What’s the weather contingency plan? A lot of venues will charge you to rent a tent and this can get expensive!

Can things be moved for my decorating purposes or do things need to stay where they are (this may not apply if its just an open garden)

If I bring in my own caterer are they able to use your kitchen facility in the house or how does that work?

Do you provide tables, linens, silverware, plates, etc or do I need to outsource them or choose a caterer who has them?

Can alcohol be included in your package or do I need to bring in my own or through a caterer?

How many restrooms do you have available for where my wedding would be?

Where can people park? Is there valet for an additional cost?