Don't beat yourself up too much about not knowing everything about wedding planning. Why would you? One thing that will help you quite a bit is to start doing some research. There are numerous sources that will help you add to your knowledge base. Start researching online and find out everything you can about wedding venues and what you should be looking for. Start to narrow your research to venues in the Charlotte area then. After you have researched a number of local venues, check out the list below, it will save you a lot of grief in making your decision.
The first thing you want to decide is whether you are having your ceremony and reception at the same place. If you are, then obviously that will be part of the kind of venue you are looking for. If you are getting married at a church or somewhere other than where your reception will be, you will need to decide on how far you want your reception venue to be from your ceremony. A little suggestion here, we recommend that you try to keep the two locations within one hours drive from each other. If the drive is much more than that, you are asking quite a bit of your guests.
Ask yourself what style do you see in your dreams. Are you more of a traditional type of person with your standard look on the outside and inside. Or, are you looking for another time and place like the Taj Mahal? When you answer this question, it will either open up your options or it will greatly narrow them down. What décor are you looking for in your reception venue? Another detail that will help you in your venue search is knowing the number of guests that will be coming to your wedding. If you are having less than 100 people, your will have hundreds of places to pick from. If you are having a really large wedding of say over 250 people, this will narrow your search for you.
In terms of cost, consider the time of year you are having your wedding. If money is a real issue, having your wedding at an off time will really reduce the price. Also, if you can have your wedding on a weekday night, you will find that the price you pay will be severely cut. When you find a few venues that you really are interested in checking out, you will want to call them and setup a site visit. They will give you a tour of the facility. You will want to ask questions like whether you have to use an in-house caterer. If you do, compare the price with someone you would get from the outside. Also, ask them how much the bottom line is. A lot of venues will break up their prices and not include items like tables, chairs, linens, coat check services and more. On your site visit, talk to the personnel about the room size and whether it will accommodate all of your tables plus a band, buffet, and dancing area. Once you are satisfied with all of the details about a particular venue and you feel you can afford it, book it early because wedding calendars fill up extremely fast. This is the first big thing you will book and it will pave the way for the rest of your wedding vendors.