What happens if you can’t physically see the place you’re planning to say ‘I do’? While it may seem like a big leap of faith to pick a venue online, many venues are starting to offer virtual tours as an alternative for engaged couples who can’t visit in person.

“We love doing virtual wedding tours. Clients do not have to be in the same place when they tour, and they can also loop in family members to see the venue. Through the pandemic, we have booked dozens of couples after doing a virtual tour,” says Melanie Marchand, sales manager for Red Gate Farms Wedding and Events.

So, even if you’re getting married hundreds of miles from home or stuck in quarantine, you can still find your wedding venue – with a little help from modern technology and these expert tips.

1. Establish your must-have’s

Before you start researching venues, you’ll first want to make sure you and your partner have discussed what you want and need. The essential details include size, location, price, dates and style. That way, you don’t waste your time or fall in love with a venue that can’t accommodate your budget or guest count.

2. Don’t rely on a recorded tour

“Ask to do a live tour, not a recorded tour,” says Marchland. “Recorded tours can be deceptive because anything a venue doesn't want you to see can be clipped out.”

3. Prep for the tour

To ensure your virtual venue tour is a success, be sure that you have the right set up at home. That means having a fully charged device, ensuring your WIFI is fast enough for a live video stream, and eliminating any distractions (i.e., silencing your phone, turning off the TV), so you can focus on the tour.

Also, practice using tools like screen capture or screenshots, so you have photos and a recording of the tour to reference later.

4. Read the reviews

A beautiful website and virtual tour are great, but the best way to know if a venue is a good fit is by reading reviews. Check out testimonials from real couples about their experience and look at photos of how they set up their event, advises Marchland.

5. Ask plenty of questions

“Feel comfortable asking questions. The venue should be willing and eager to answer any questions you have about the process of planning your biggest day ever. Do not be afraid to ask for help!” says Marchland.

Some good example questions include:
• What does your venue provide with the costs? Could you provide a list of inclusions?
• Does the venue offer other rental items?
• Can the wedding date be transferred if there is a pandemic or other emergency? Is there a charge to move your date?
• If the venue is outdoors, what’s the backup plan if the weather is bad?

6. Check out Google Maps

One advantage of visiting a site in person is you can see more than just the venue itself; you also know how accessible it is, how far it is from the hotel or airport, etc.

Luckily, you can do much of this virtually thanks to tools like Google Maps, which cannot only tell you travel times but also allow you to view the surrounding area using Street View.

7. Read the fine print

Before you sign on the dotted line, go through the agreement with a fine-tooth comb. Check to see what fees are refundable, and for how long – that way, you know what the cutoff date is for you to change your mind. Make sure any arrangements you’ve made verbally (renting equipment, getting into the venue early, etc.) are written into the contract.

And if you’re still having doubts even after you’ve done a virtual tour and seen reviews and photos, trust yourself. Ultimately, it’s your wedding and you shouldn’t feel pressure to commit to a venue that doesn’t feel right.

©CTW Features