You just became engaged and you have no idea on how to begin the wedding planning process. You may feel a lot of pressure because everything is new and you don't want to make a mistake, you are after all planning "the most important day of your life" (by the way, after you get married, you will have a lot of other most important days of your life moments, so if that calms you any... chew on that). One of the first things you will do when you start the planning process is secure a wedding venue. Here are things to consider before you start looking for your wedding venue.
First thing I want you to think about your wedding budget - really. How much money are you going to be able to spend on the wedding venue? Remember, the venue (including Food & Beverage) is 50% of your wedding budget, so you really need to find out how much money you will have available to you on your wedding day. Have these discussions with the appropriate people helping pay for your wedding. Once you have an idea on cost, you will have a better indicator on venues that are actually within your price point.
Decide your guest size, if you have hundreds of friends, but you have your heart set on a small intimate dinner and dancing celebration, something has to give. You will need to think about how many people you will be inviting and all of them potentially saying "YES". This goes along with budget as well. Remember, 50% of your wedding budget will go to the venue, food and beverage - so you may need to downsize your guest list in order to get the venue you want because you will have to pay for food and drink for all your friends that are coming.
A lot of couples will jump the gun and decide on a date before they even begin the wedding venue hunt. This is a novice mistake, and most couple's are novices when they are planning their wedding so I am not harping on you. After all, you haven't planned a wedding before (potentially). The next question you probably have is, what am I supposed to do just tell them I am looking to get married here and what are your available dates? Not necessarily, you may not want to do that either because the answer may be hundreds of dates. However, if it is a sought after location, they may only have a couple dates available in a year, so one of those dates may be your only option no matter when you want to get married. What I want you do before you approach a venue is think about the season you want to get married - in Austin or Dripping Springs or even Georgetown - the best seasons to marry are Fall and Spring - summer in Texas you are likely to get some additional savings. This will be a better indicator of available dates for you. If it is a venue with a lot of open dates, then yes, by all means, be as specific as you want with a date. However, your venue may tell you that your date isn't available, so you may have to decide what is more important, the date or the venue.
Once you have an idea of how much you can spend, your guest size, and your "time of year" or dates that can work for you, then you can approach the venue. Here is what I would say "I am interested in looking at your venue for my wedding, I have approximately 100 guests (don't over estimate your guest size because that will drive up your estimated wedding costs from the venue) and here is the time of year I am considering, can you send me your wedding packages with food and bar option costs and what areas are available on your property? (Watch me circle back to your budget right now:) Can you let me know the "food and beverage minimum for those areas that are available for those dates and my guest size?" If your venue is a property that doesn't handle food and beverage, then you should be ok with not asking about food and drink costs because you will have a list of caterers to choose from which give you more flexibility with choices, but it's the venue cost that may or may not rock your budget, so find out how much it costs to secure the location and include that in your 50% of your budget. If the venue alone (not food and beverage) eats up half your budget - that is NOT the right venue for you.
Some venues will offer certain things like a coordinator - but something to always keep in mind - venue coordinators are not the same as day of coordinators. Some properties may also require you to get your own day-of coordinator - so keep those costs in mind when booking the venue as well.
I hope this will help you with the next steps after you have become engaged when it comes to your wedding venue and try to figure out what exactly it is you need to do after you say "yes" I will marry you.
Your Wedding Day Girl
PS - how beautiful is Austin's Driskill Hotel - they can actually book year round because they indoor space for ceremony and reception - so season is less important!!