I don't know if this is already widely used, but I have starting using a new research technique that I think would be extremely helpful to all brides-to-be out there.
Yes, it is the evil Facebook that's practically sucking out your personal info and trying to take over the world, but this is a new dynamic (for me anyways,) of looking at venues and vendors alike.
With a Facebook page, the company has to have some description, contact info, and photos. What's great about these photos is most of them are personal, non-professional photos of the venue/vendor in action.
This gives a genuine look of how it really is, so a excited bride does not have to arrive at a professionally photographed venue and be disappointed.
And if the company page doesn't have personal photos posted, anyone who is willing can put up their own personal photos and tag the company in, making it visible on the company's page.
I have already "liked" the Boldt Castle page, and I love it. The status of the page tells me about the weather, how many weddings there are each weekend, if the place is crowded that day, and any events taking place.
Stalk a venue's page long enough and you'll get a decent feel for what the location is like!
I know other sites probably provide this, Twitter, Flickr, etc. but if you don't have another way to access this type of information, try it. I suggest however only using Facebook for research only and put up very minimal information about yourself if you don't already have an account.
Well, back to my usual internet surfing, I hope I helped someone out there!