Congratulations on choosing Barcelona as your wedding destination! Apart from being an incredible destination for holidays, it also offers plenty of beautiful wedding venues for you to choose from.
But before we dive into todays topic. Let’s just recognize the fact that it IS a bit scary to plan something as important as a wedding from afar. I think it’s perfectly normal. You are not able to re-visit the venues, and in some cases you are not even able to see the venue before confirming it. Scary!
I suggest you start with researching venues online, and narrowing it down to a few venues that you really like. Stalk the venues on social media, google them and see photos from other peoples weddings. Follow local photographers or videographers on Instagram, they might have shot a wedding at your venue. If you can’t find anything when googling venue name + wedding, I suggest you try to google it in Spanish instead, it would be: venue name + boda, or bodas. ‘Boda’ means wedding in Spanish.
Some venues are just not so focused on international couples and don’t market a lot in English. However, most venues do have at least some information in English on their website. The venues who work a lot with international clients for sure will have the entire website also in English.
Things to consider before you choose venue
Besides the aesthetics of the venue and the price, there are also other things that are good to consider before making up your mind. Here is a list of some quite important things to keep in mind:
- Transfer time to get there from Barcelona (I don’t recommend more than 30-40 min transfer tops)
- Accommodation; do they offer accommodation, or is there any accommodation close by?
- Do they have exclusivity with any vendors or are you free to bring anyone?
- Do they speak English, and will they be comfortable planning the entire wedding in English? (this question is particularly interesting in case you are planning everything on your own, without a local wedding planner)
Before your venue sourcing trip
Before you decide which venues to visit, you should contact them for quotes and ask them for availability. You don’t want to waste time on venues that are not available or not within your budget. Remember that getting married on a week day instead of during the weekend can save you a bit of money.
If you are flexible with the date, which luckily often is the case with destination weddings, you can give the venues a few possible dates and check if any of them are available. Ask them if they can hold the date for you until you have visited them. Just keep in mind that the venues will not hold the date for too long without a down payment, so you can not wait too long to visit. Now it’s time to book your flights to Barcelona for your first site inspection!
And what if we’re not able to travel to visit the venues?
Obviously, traveling is not always an option, I understand that. Specially if you are living on the other side of the globe, it’s not as easy to just escape away for a weekend to Spain. If you are from another European country it’s of course much easier.
Photos, video clips and virtual tours are great tools. Particularly during last year more and more venues have added virtual tours to their websites which is great and can give you a good overview.
If you can’t visit the venue before booking it, you can still visit at another point during the planning process. If you are flying in later for a menu tasting or makeup/hair trial, you can visit the venue at the same time.
If you know someone who lives at the destination, you can also ask that person to visit the venue for you. They will be able to give you their honest opinion.
Something I always offer my clients, is visiting the venue on their behalf, giving them a full tour of the place. This is a great option if you don’t know anyone who can do this for you at your destination. I really go into detail of the pro’s and the con’s, showing you a completely honest view of the venue. I will never hide any information from you. My goal is to give you all information necessary so that you can make an educated decision.
When is the best time for venue visits in Barcelona?
Definitely during the wedding low season, which is November – April here in Barcelona. I also suggest that you plan to travel to Barcelona during the week instead of the weekend if you can. Most weddings and other events are held on weekends, and the venues that you want to visit might have events during the weekends. Christmas and New Years time is also usually quite busy over here. There are many company Christmas lunches and dinners, so some venues can be very busy during this time.
If your wedding venue is a hotel located outside of Barcelona city, you also need to double when they are actually open. Many hotels on Costa Brava are closed during the low season, even though the ones specializing in weddings are usually able to show you the spaces anyways. However, you wouldn’t see the hotel “up and running”, if that makes sense. In Barcelona, in normal conditions without Covid all hotels are open year around.
Time for venue visits!
You have the ticket for your first site inspection. Some of you will only make this visit, while others might return. Either way, it’s important that you prepare a bit before the visit, writing down all questions. When you arrive to the venue I highly recommend that you start inspecting everything already when you are getting closer to the venue, the surrounding area leading up to the venue. You will understand why in just a minute.
When you arrive to the venue, ask them to show you the venue how it would be experienced from a guests point of view. Starting with the walk from the parking to the ceremony area, moving forward from there to the cocktail area walking the exact same path as the guests would do if the areas are separated. Moving on to the reception area and finally the dancing space. It’s very convenient for you to see the space in this chronologic order, because it will be easier for you to remember it later. After the round tour, make sure to sit down with the venue to go through any other questions or doubts that you might have. No questions are too silly to ask, just make sure to ask away and clear all your doubts.
If you by any means find this very overwhelming, or you feel that you’d prefer to have someone there with you, I am more than happy to work with you. As your wedding planner I would join you on the venue visit, making sure no details is forgotten.
Questions to ask the venue
- Do they make more than one wedding per day?
- Do they have their own kitchen, or catering?
- What type of food do they serve?
- Can you bring your own cake?
- How long experience do they have with weddings?
- Do they have experience with international weddings?
- Will they be confortable planning the entire wedding with you in English? (if you are doing the planning yourself without wedding planner)
- How many toilets are there? (and are they in good condition?)
- Is there a space where you can get ready before the ceremony? (in case they don’t offer accommodation)
- Do they have several areas at the venue for each moment of the day? (ceremony, cocktail, reception, party), or will they be combining the same spaces doing a room turnaround?
- How many hours do they calculate for a wedding?
- When will you have access to the venue before the wedding? And when do you have to be out?
- Are there any time limitations to celebrations outdoors? (noise restrictions)
And that’s it! I hope you found this post helpful, and that you feel motivated to start your venue sourcing! If you need anything, you know that I’m just an e-mail away, you can reach me at firstname.lastname@example.org.