8 Site Tour Tips for Michigan Wedding Venues

These tips will help you prepare for a site tour when selecting the right Michigan wedding venue.

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!

Keep Guests Comfortable at Your Outdoor Wedding in Michigan

Your wedding is a once-in-a-lifetime event for you and your partner and, naturally, you’ll want your personalities and styles to shine through! But while this joyous occasion is all about you and your soon-to-be lawfully wedded partner, it is incredibly important to remember that your Michigan wedding won’t be complete without the support of your loving family and friends. Engaged couples can convey their love and gratitude to their wedding guests by making sure they feel comfortable with a wonderful guest experience!

If you and your partner have decided to celebrate outdoors, you’ve already got the beauty of nature going for you. But how can you prepare for the elements? Keep reading to find out!

Notify guests about your outdoor wedding venue.

You’ll want your family and friends comfortable at your Michigan wedding venue, so make sure to inform everyone in advance where you intend to celebrate so they can plan their attire accordingly. The last thing you want is for your guests to show up on the day you say your “I dos” in gowns and sky-high stilettos. Yes, footwear can make or break the guest experience! If you and your partner are going for a casual wedding vibe, consider having a basket of flip-flops placed at the entrance of the venue. This way, guests can grab a pair and change into them when their dress shoes start to feel uncomfortable. This will also guarantee that they never get tired of dancing the night away!

Keep bugs at bay.

Nobody likes wedding crashers—especially pesky little bugs and critters! But with outdoor weddings, insects may be par for the course during certain seasons. After all, that is their natural habitat, and bugs are often a sign that the environment is clean and alive!

Luckily, there are plenty of ingenious ways to shoo them away so they don’t bother you and your guests at your MI wedding venue. For starters, you can set up a station for bug repellant spray or lotions at your venue, or provide your guests with individually-sized bottles with a clever note saying, “Be smitten, not bitten.” 

Another clever idea is to use citronella candles as table centerpieces. Not only can they help repel bugs, but they can also set a romantic tone for your event. Likewise, you can ask your florist to make centerpieces with flowers and plants that keep mosquitos away, such as peppermint, lavender, marigolds, and lemon balm. 

Finally, rent some fans! These will not only keep guests cool during warmer months, but they will also blow away annoying flies. Place them strategically near your buffet and dessert tables and food stations!

Protect your guests from the sun.

If you plan to tie the knot during the day, you might want to provide your guests with sunglasses that double as a memorable wedding keepsake. This will allow them to enjoy the festivities without squinting through the sun’s rays! If your Michigan outdoor wedding venue doesn’t offer much shade, you can also consider renting a tent or having some parasols ready for your family and friends to use. A hydration station is also a terrific way to help keep your guests cool all day long! Nothing can beat the heat better than cold water infused with fresh fruits, herbs, or summery vegetables like cucumber.

Keep your guests warm and cozy.

Have you finalized your wedding date yet? If you expect to have a cold-weather celebration, see to it that you help your guests fend off the chill by providing warm blankets for them to use! They will surely appreciate this sweet gesture and thank you later. You can opt for blankets in neutral hues for a rustic vibe or have them match your wedding colors!

You can also rent a heating system for your venue if there isn’t one available. If you plan on having a tent, consider adding sidewalls to ward off the chill and renting a tent heater. If you prefer your celebration to feel more open, you can place outdoor patio heaters and braziers at strategic spots. One heater every few tables and around the edges of the venue can help keep your guests cozy and comfortable throughout the whole celebration!

The trick to achieving a spectacular wedding guest experience is by incorporating thoughtful little details throughout the space. Keep in mind that, with proper thought and care, your loved ones will definitely feel special and have the time of their lives. Enjoy your wedding preparations!

Focusing on guest experience will ensure your guests remember your outdoor wedding in Michigan for all the right reasons!

And we have no doubt that your guests will love visiting The Northfork Estate to celebrate your nuptials! Give us a call to schedule a site tour and start planning the Michigan wedding of your dreams!

How to Look at a MI Wedding Venue From the Guest’s Perspective

Getting married is undoubtedly one of the most exhilarating moments you’ll experience throughout your life. So naturally, you’ll want to share the news of your engagement with your family and friends as soon as it happens! And if you’re like most engaged couples, you’ll put a lot of time, energy, and resources into ensuring that the celebration is fun, stress-free, and unforgettable.

One of the most crucial decisions you’ll need help with as you start planning is selecting where you’ll tie the knot. As your venue typically takes up the most considerable portion of your budget, most engaged couples explore numerous options to get a better sense of what they’re looking for on their big day.

Before you sign on any dotted lines, there are a lot of things to take into consideration. Will you be able to fit all of your guests? Are there enough spots to take gorgeous photos? Will it be convenient for your vendors to load in and out? The list goes on!

As you’re considering these factors, there’s one crucial thing you shouldn’t forget about as you chat with potential wedding venues: the guest experience. Many will likely be traveling long distances and spending a considerable amount of time and money to celebrate this joyous occasion. So while it’s your special day, you should try to ensure they walk away with some beautiful memories, too!

Take a look at how you can ensure that your venue is comfortable for your guests, as well as how you can make them feel cherished and appreciated. If you want to learn how you can be the best host on your big day, read on!

Check available accommodations.

One of the most important questions to ask yourself at the start of your wedding venue search is: Where will my guests be traveling from? This will help you decide whether or not you need a venue that offers onsite accommodations.

You want to ensure that traveling is a breeze for all of your guests. Don’t leave them worrying about commuting between their hotel and your venue. If the venue doesn’t have onsite accommodations, ask the venue coordinator for nearby hotel recommendations and advice on how to best accommodate your family and friends.

Determine how your guests will arrive.

The last thing you want is for your guests to arrive at your location late due to transportation issues. If your venue is a little further from home, it’s important to consider the proximity of its location to the airport, and whether or not there’s a shuttle your guests can utilize.

Will their hotel have a car or bus that can bring them to and from your venue? Think about whether or not they’ll need to rent a car themselves or if you can provide some sort of transportation to take your guests from point A to point B. As a rule of thumb, the less your guests have to think about transportation, the better!

Incorporate fun activities.

In a previous blog, we identified six activities that can turn an Eaton Rapids wedding into a full weekend getaway. Incorporating fun activities is a nice gesture for all guests, especially those who traveled great distances and don’t visit the area often.

Think about how your family and friends can fill their weekend and what fun things they can do before and after the big celebration. For example, are there breweries, wineries, golf courses, restaurants, or museums nearby that are worth checking out? By exploring places of interest in the area, you can make your guests feel like your wedding is a mini-vacay!

Consider any special needs.

You want everyone to be comfortable and have a fantastic time at your event, so it’s imperative to identify if there are people on your guest list with special needs. The last thing you’d want is for anyone to feel excluded. So try to follow up with some of your attendees to check if any of them use wheelchairs, walkers, crutches, or other mobility equipment.

Consult with your coordinators on how to make the venue easily accessible to everyone. For instance, the Northfork Estate provides a golf cart shuttle from the parking area to any ceremony and reception locations. This way, your guests don’t have to walk – even though many choose to do so to tour our beautiful grounds anyway! You have many accessibility options available. All you have to do is ask.

Looking at your Michigan wedding venue through guests’ eyes can help you create a celebration they’ll remember forever!

At the end of the day, your guests attend your wedding because they’re excited to celebrate your love and this next chapter of your life. Keeping them in mind as you plan is one of the best ways to express your gratitude!

Looking for more on how to host a wedding that’s unlike any other? Let’s chat!

9891 North Fork Way, Eaton Rapids, MI 48827

We’d like to thank our photographers who provided gorgeous photography on our website: Michelle Lippert Photography and Emily Hary Photography