You've found someone you want to marry — now it's time to figure out where to have your wedding. The right location, vibe, price, and a plethora of other factors make this arguably the most important decision in the wedding planning process. Throw in a ton of great venue options in Austin, and your head will start spinning faster than you can say "I do."
That's where Juliana Ross comes in. Her family owns two Austin venues, Brodie Homestead and Allan House. Ross grew up in the industry and now serves as director of events, so we looked to her expertise for picking the perfect Austin venue that will lead to wedded bliss.
Location, location, location
In Austin, it's possible to have any type of wedding. You can escape to the Hill Country for a rustic reception, host a modern wedding in a gallery, or keep it weird by tying the knot at an unconventional spot. Whatever direction you go, don't forget to keep in mind how your guests will be getting to and from your wedding.
Ross recommends taking travel logistics into consideration when booking a location. "There are tons of beautiful venues in the Hill Country, and it's a huge wedding location destination spot now. But if you want your wedding guests to have an Austin experience, it's kind of hard to get to those spaces."
Keeping everything centrally located may mean your guests cab walk to events. Consider renting a bus if your wedding is far away from where guests are staying.
Timing is everything
Typically, couples book their venues a year in advance and go for a traditional Saturday wedding. However, your budget could benefit from an atypical timeline.
"In Austin, there are a lot of outdoor venues and spaces, and people want to be outside," Ross says. If being outdoors isn't high on your list of priorities, you could save money by booking a venue during the offseason: summer or winter.
You can also save by picking an "off night of the week" — going with a Friday or Sunday wedding tends to be cheaper. "A lot of people do the wedding on Thursday and have activities planned for Fridays and Saturdays for their guests," she says.
While planning a wedding in less than a year might be too stressful for some, if you're up to the challenge, it could result in serious savings. "I wouldn't typically give deals if it's a year out," Ross says. "But Fridays and Sundays that are still open in four to six months, we might give some discounts."
Do your homework
With so many options in Austin, Ross says to do as much research online as you can. "Looking at reviews and researching all the different venues in Austin will definitely help narrow down the venue search process and likely save you a lot of time."
Ross also recommends using resources like The Knot, Wedding Wire, and online catalogues to find great vendors. "You can pinpoint what you want by selecting different categories to show you a list of vendors that meet your specifications," she says.
Put your Instagram and Pinterest skills to good use too. Look up weddings around Austin to find venues and vendors you like. Ross says more and more often she's getting clients that contact her after seeing one of her venues on social media.
Check the fine print
"Don't just sign because you really love the place," Ross says. "Make sure you know what you're getting into — not just for hidden fees. Know what you, as the client, are expected to take care of and exactly what the venue includes."
That goes for vendors too. Hire professional vendors whenever possible to ensure everything is truly perfect on the day of your wedding. "Make sure you know what you're getting yourself into," Ross says. "There are a lot of people out there who claim to be professionals, but don't have the experience."
Don't forget about booze
It's up to you and your spouse-to-be to determine what your style is when it comes to alcohol at your wedding. Whether you want free-flowing libations or a simple Champagne toast, ask for a full rundown of the alcohol policy of any venue you're considering.
"Some venues will take care of their own bar services and possibly provide the alcohol, and that might have more of an upcharge." Ross says. "Other venues will likely allow you to bring in your own alcohol and just have a licensed bartender serve it, which will save you a lot of money."