One of the integral parts of selecting a wedding venue in Michigan is the site tour! Your venue will serve as the foundation for your perfect wedding, so you can’t leave it up to social media posts and website galleries alone. A site tour is your chance to walk the grounds, get a feel for the energy, meet the onsite team, and truly picture how your wedding will look and feel with all of the surroundings.
But, touring a Michigan wedding venue involves far more than just walking around and taking pictures of the space. You’ll need to be strategic in the questions you ask and the details you inspect before making your final choice.
Whether you’re planning your dream Michigan wedding in Lansing, Grand Rapids, Detroit, Ann Arbor, or Kalamazoo, here’s a guide to a site tour that will make your choice easy.
Do preliminary research before booking your tour(s).
Visiting a Michigan wedding venue that is way outside of your budget or doesn’t match your overall design aesthetic is a waste of your time. Before booking a site tour, make sure you confirm that all of the details meet your expectations: budget, maximum guest count, geographic location, aesthetic, and package requirements (i.e. whether offsite vendors are allowed or not). Initial research prevents disappointing surprises and ensures that every site visit factors into your final decision.
Schedule your tour at a similar time as your wedding (when possible).
The look and feel of a wedding venue change with the positioning of the sun throughout the day, as well as by season. If possible, try to book a site tour at a time that lends itself to similar lighting and seasonal settings as your wedding day.
This is particularly important for outdoor weddings, as Michigan weather can be unpredictable at certain times of the year. If you’re having a brunch wedding in summer, an evening site tour in the fall won’t show you how your big day will feel. While it might be tricky to get the seasons right (particularly for shorter engagements), ask the venue coordinator the best time to view the space in relation to your wedding date.
Request a tour during another event’s setup.
There’s a big difference between seeing a Michigan wedding venue as a blank slate compared to one that is dressed to the nines for an upcoming wedding. Touring the property while it’s decorated and preparing for guests will give you a better look at how the space is transformed, even if the event’s design aesthetic is different than your own. You’ll also get to see how the team works together to execute the wedding seamlessly.
Ask about unique wedding elements you’d like to include.
If you plan to host additional entertainment activities or other elements onsite, speak to the venue coordinator about logistics. For example, where would they suggest you place custom lawn games to promote interaction and keep guests engaged? Or, if you have a food truck in mind, ask about policies and permits in addition to the best place to satisfy guests’ late-night munchies. The same goes for photo booths, strolling musicians, and other non-traditional elements that must be considered for space.
Check the parking area and walk to the event space.
Accessibility is a vital part of a successful wedding, particularly if you plan to invite elderly guests or loved ones with disabilities. Make sure to visit the parking area during your site tour to confirm that it can comfortably accommodate your headcount. Then, walk the route your guests would take to the ceremony site or reception area to ensure it’s easy to navigate. If you have concerns about parking or distance, inquire about alternate solutions like valet service or guest shuttles.
Inspect the bathrooms for cleanliness.
Often underlooked but very important, a bathroom’s level of cleanliness goes to show a wedding venue’s attention to detail. Pop into an onsite restroom to ensure it measures up to expectations and is fully stocked in terms of hand soap, toilet paper, washcloths, and other essentials. While there, check for ADA accessibility as well — especially if you will have guests with wheelchairs or other accommodations.
Request to see the onsite lighting.
Some venues are well equipped with great lighting made for events — bistro lights, uplighting, and other decorative details can save on renting equipment and booking lighting specialists elsewhere. Other wedding venues are limited on lighting, offering only standard overhead fixtures that create a stuffy, corporate feel. Lighting isn’t a make-it-or-break-it decision, as you can easily transform a space with rentals. However, confirming the onsite lighting available will inform your budget and planning process as you move forward.
Revisit any leftover questions from your research.
Your time onsite with a venue coordinator is the best opportunity to clear up any details left hanging from your initial research or email correspondence. Ask about contingency plans, power capacity, additional services provided, noise restrictions, alcohol guidelines, and any other logistical questions that need to be answered before signing a contract. Don’t hold back!
A site tour is your chance to envision your perfect wedding at your dream Michigan wedding venue. Make the most of it!
Ready to book a site tour at The Northfork Estate? We’d love to show you why our stunning outdoor wedding venue is the perfect fit for your Michigan wedding! Get in touch with us today — we can’t wait to hear all about your wedding plans!