Sometimes it is hard to determine if what you see on a wedding venue website is truly how it appears. Mostly because you know that the pictures on the website are very much staged. Sometimes, what they show in a location isn't even something they offer! I can't tell you how many times that has happened. Quite deceiving yes, but proper preparation will pre-empt any disappointments. If you're planning a destination wedding, it's particularly scary to have this question running through your head, "What if it's not really what we think it is?". Even if you are able to make a scouting trip, you may be limited on time and need to narrow down your choices prior to actually getting a site tour. So what to do:
Google. Google is your friend. Simply do a search on "insert venue name wedding" and chances are that you'll have oodles pop up. Even better, also check out Google images.
Going down the list of links you'll probably see links to the actual venue- skip those. You've seen that already. Rather, look for blogs by wedding planners, brides, florists and photographers. Why? Because these professionals have documented the venues in some shape or form. You're going to get a real view of how the ceremony and or reception venue you're considering really looks like at a wedding. Just keep in mind that what you're looking at may not be what you want to see; every wedding is unique to each couple and you're bound to see some that don't reflect your taste in the slightest. I know this is hard, even I struggle, but try to look past it. You're also going to notice that some weddings at a venue look the same one after another. That's a sign. Notice it. Ask why – it may affect your decision.
Also keep in mind that what you see is not always available. Rooms may have been painted, new banquet chairs may have been purchased, special lighting may have been used, and furniture may have been rented and brought in by a wedding designer. Oh- this is a good way to come up with some questions for your venue coordinator to find out what is and isn't included and/or allowed. For instance, in one wedding you see on a wedding planners website there are royal tables (rectangle tables of 10-12), and then on a photographers website you see all round tables of 8. You can then ask the venue coordinator if both those options are available to you, if there's a charge for it, or if you'll need a designer to come in and handle the logistics of that kind of thing. The key is to ask.
A quick tip: The Catering & Sales Manager at the locations you are scouting for your destination wedding will think the world of you if you send them a list in advance of questions they can offer answers to while on your tour. Give them a few days to get prepared and get the answers. This will make your time spent much more efficient and enjoyable and will allow you to determine if the location is perfect for the celebration you're planning. Remember, they want your business, so give them the opportunity to sell it to you!