From Runge to Ricker: Picking a Venue {Pt. 3}

Picking a venue is a crucial part of wedding planning for obvious reasons, it is where you will be having your big day! However, a a lot goes into picking a venue. Such as the number of people you will be having, the style you are going for, and what they offer. 

You wouldn't have a "classic" wedding in a barn or a "country chic" wedding in a beach cabana. 

The venue is also one of the more costly things to a wedding. When John and I were talking venues, we decided a couple of things. 1. we wanted to ceremony and venue to be the same place/on the same property. 2. we wanted a country club 3. we wanted an outdoor ceremony and an indoor reception. 

Living in southern Florida, there is no shortage of country clubs which was good and bad for us. We had it narrowed down to 14 places.

We both kind of hard our hearts set on one specific place on the list but didn't want to miss out on what some of the others had to offer so we spent two days going from place to place. 

Throughout the days, we eliminated some of the places without going to them (The Hyatt, Yacht Club, Marina Jacks, Meadows, and The Founders Club). We also came prepared with a list of questions to ask each one. (Beware, there are A LOT)

Ceremony Venue 
Venue:           Phone Number:         Contact:

What dates are available in the month I’m considering?

What’s your weather contingency plan? 

How many guests can the location accommodate?

Can they waive or decrease the ceremony site fee if the reception is also held there?

What is the ceremony site fee?

Are there any music restrictions?

Are there any photography/videography restrictions?

Are candle lighting ceremonies allowed (such as unity candle ceremonies)?

Are there any restrictions regarding confetti tossing or bubbles?

Is there a set up fee for decorating?

What are the clean-up requirements? Is there a clean-up fee?

Is there a bridal suite or another area where the bridal party can get ready?

Is seating provided? Or do I need to rent chairs? And if so, what is the cost?

What time can my vendors start setting up on the day of the wedding? Is it possible to start the setup the day before? How early can deliveries be made?

Is an aisle runner provided? If not, how long of an aisle runner do we need?

Is there a canopy, arch, and linens available to use?

Is there a wedding coordinator provided?

What rental items are necessary?

Can I schedule a rehearsal? When can I schedule it?

How many hours will we have the site for the rehearsal?

Does the venue have liability insurance?

What is the payment / deposit policy?

What kinds of payment do they accept?

What is the cancellation / refund policy?

Reception Venue

How many people can this location accommodate?

How long will I have use of the event space(s) I reserve? Is there an overtime fee if I stay longer? Is there a minimum or maximum rental time?

Can I move things around and decorate to suit my purposes, or do I have to leave everything as is? Are there decoration guidelines/restrictions? Can I use real candles?
What time can my vendors start setting up on the day of the wedding? Is it possible to start the setup the day before? How early can deliveries be made? 

How much time will I have for decor setup? 

Does the venue provide assistance getting gifts or decor back to a designated car, hotel room, etc. after the event has concluded?

Is there an outdoor space where my guests can mingle?

Do you have an in-house caterer or a list of “preferred” caterers, or do I need to provide my own? Even if there is an in-house caterer, do I have the option of using an outside caterer instead?

If I hire my own caterer, are kitchen facilities available for them? NOTE: Caterers charge extra if they have to haul in refrigerators and stoves.

Are tables, linens, chairs, plates, silverware and glassware provided, or will I have to rent them myself or get them through my caterer?

What is the food & beverage cost on a per-person basis? What is the tax and service charge?

Do you have a separate place for a cocktail hour while the bridal party takes photos?

Since we want to do a plated dinner, do you require assigned tables and seats or just 

Can we do a food tasting prior to finalizing our menu selection? If so, is there an additional charge?

Can I bring in a cake from an outside cake maker or must I use a cake made on the premises? 

Is there a cake-cutting fee? If I use a cake made on site is the fee waived? 

Do you provide special cake-cutting utensils?

Are there restrictions on what kind of music I can play, or a time by which the music must end? 

Can the venue accommodate a DJ or live band? 

Do you offer on-site coordination? If so, what services are included and is there an additional charge for them? 

Will the coordinator supervise day-of? How much assistance can I get with the setup/ decor?

Does the venue have liability insurance? 

Can I hire my own vendors or must I select from a preferred vendor list?

Do you have signage or other aids to direct guests to my event?

Who will be my main contact, can I meet them? How can I contact them?

To no surprise, we decided on the place that we both already hard our hearts set on: The Lakewood Ranch Country Club in Bradenton, Florida.
Literally this place is like a fairy tale complete with a Bridal Suite and Man Cave. I can not wait to marry the man of my dreams in the picture perfect place. #rickerpartyoftwo

Do you think I left anything out? What were you're qualifications for a wedding site?


  1. I love the country club you picked! We had a time picking our venue! When we first got engaged we had our hearts set on this castle that is about 20 minutes from where we live. I had always dreamed of getting married there ever since I was an intern for a wedding planner and did multiple events there. But after we visited it, we knew it wasn't right for us. There are so many factors and I think you covered them all!

  2. Wow that is a lot of questions! Glad you found your perfect venue.

  3. Congrats on picking a venue! Apparently that's the hardest part (unless you and your FI can't agree on a cake you like... but that's when you pull the bride card ;) )

    Looks gorgeous and you clearly put tons of effort into making sure it was the right fit for you! Congratulations!!!

    Laura @Cook, Wine and Thinker!

  4. Gorgeous venue! That's right down the road from my in-laws and I've been to weddings at several of the places on your list.

  5. That looks like a beautiful place for a wedding! Congrats on finding it, the venue is the biggest piece of the puzzle I think!

  6. Wow that venue looks gorgeous! It's such a big deal picking the venue so congrats! Now the fun begins! :)

  7. Your venue is gorgeous-your wedding day is just going to be magical, I cannot wait to see pictures :)

    When my husband and I were picking our wedding venue...we actually knew which one we wanted before we were even engaged! What's most important is that the venue reflects the two of you, and ours certainly did!

    I would love for you to stop by my blog sometime and check out some of my Wedding Belles posts, I think they could come in handy for you with your upcoming wedding :)

    xoxo, SS

    The Southern Stylista

  8. That looks like a gorgeous venue! Still so happy for you!!

  9. This is really a wonderful post.


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