Your wedding venue is definitely one of the most important aspects of your wedding. It sets the tone and lays the foundation for your big day. It’s where you will make promises and say, “I do.” You will share a meal with friends and family, and hit up the dance floor to celebrate. But with all this pressure to pick the perfect one, how do you choose?
You likely have an idea of where you want to get married, how many guests you want to invite, and an idea of what you want to spend, but it’s not always all that simple. Once you get into all the details, packages, and costs, your head may start spinning. But don’t worry, we’ll help you set it straight again. Finding your perfect venue won’t be easy. Other than falling in love with one at first sight, here are some key questions to keep in mind to find the wedding venue that is right for you.
Does It Fit the Theme I Want?
Consider the elements of the venue you are looking at. Does it fit with your vision? If you are wanting something rustic and laidback, look for exposed beams and wood elements. Or for something more modern, think industrial metal and clean lines. Venues can be anything from ballrooms to gardens, barns, and beaches so give some thought to what setting you want to get married in. Also think outside the box for venues, such as art galleries, your childhood home, and large restaurants.
When visiting venues, take in the aesthetic of the venue. The more beautiful and natural the aesthetic and the setting, the less you will have to invest in wedding decor. For example, a wedding set in a garden will likely not need much in the way of decor because the setting will already be overwhelming. However, a large ballroom will likely need a lot more personal touches and decor to make it come alive with your vision.
Is It Available?
If you’ve already set a date, make sure you check that the venue is available. If you are working around a venue’s availability, make notes at each venue you visit of what dates they have currently have available. Some venues will have online availability, but it’s always best to double-check in person when you visit. Booking your venue should be one of the very first things you do because there is such limited availability and dates go fast. Try to book at least a year in advance.
Is It in Budget?
Almost all wedding venues will have a price range listed on their website. Make sure to make note of this and don’t visit venues that are far outside of your budget. Likewise, some venues are full service, which means they account for catering, planning services, etc. so you can always email or call to find out what is included for the price range listed.
What is Included?
You’ll always want get a list from the venue of what they include for the rental cost. How many hours will you get and how early can you get in? Are linens, tables, chairs, etc. included? A venue in a park where you will have to rent everything from tables to flatware might end up costing more than a full-service venue, but always get quotes from rental companies before signing your venue contract so you can see the full picture of costs.
Does the Venue Require You to Use Their Vendors?
When booking wedding venues, some will require that couples use their specific list of approved vendors. This is usually because they have worked with them before and trust them, but if this is the case, you’ll definitely want to research those vendors as well. Just because a venue is great does not always mean their preferred vendors are great. Make sure that they align with your style, vision, and that you feel comfortable also hiring them. Also, be aware of their prices so you’re not hit with any surprises later on.
Will It Comfortably Fit All My Guests?
All venues will have a capacity number for how many people they can fit inside the ceremony or reception location, but instead of capacity, think comfort instead. Don’t forget that there will be guest tables, chairs, catering tables, decor, a DJ booth, dance floor, as well as other things so you will need lots of room! Ask the venue staff or your wedding planner how many they can comfortably fit so guests will have lots of room to walk and mingle, and won’t be bumping elbows with the next table over. You want your guests to have so much fun celebrating and dancing and having lots of space for them is key.
How Easy Will the Experience Be for Guests?
I know your wedding is really all about you and your partner, but it’s important to consider your guest’s experience when it comes to the venue. Is it close to hotels and restaurants? If you have lots of guests coming from out of town, think about how far the venue location is from the airport. Is there plenty of parking at the venue? If there is no parking and it’s not within walking distance from guest’s lodging, you will need to provide some sort of transportation for them, which will cut into your budget. Thinking about these details in advance will help your guests have a smooth and stress-free wedding weekend.
Will I Need to Book a Separate Reception Site?
Think about if you want to have both your ceremony and reception at the same venue or if you want separate sites. Is this an “all in one” venue where it can accommodate both or will you need to rent an additional location? Some venues will have just one room where your ceremony can take place, but it will need to be flipped for your reception, which will take time and energy from your planning staff or friends and family. Also consider if the venue has additional space for cocktail hour, socializing, and picturesque locations to take your wedding photos. If opting to have your ceremony and reception at separate locations, consider how this will impact your overall wedding day timeline and your guest’s experience as well.
Does the Venue Have a Contingency Plan?
I know you don’t even want to think about the weather ruining your big day, but better to have a contingency plan than to not have one! If you are having an outdoor ceremony or reception, ask if the venue has an indoor area that can be used if the weather turns bad outside. Do they have a tent rental available onsite or will you need to arrange for one? With indoor venues, this won’t be an issue, but if you are having an outdoor wedding, these are all things the venue should be prepared to answer, so don’t feel bashful asking.
Are There Any Special Requirements?
It never hurts to ask if the venue has any special rules when booking with them. For instance, some venues don’t allow alcohol, which would inhibit some couples from booking. It’s always best to know these rules and requirements in advance instead of after you’ve signed the contract and paid your deposit.
How Does My Partner Feel?
It’s so easy to get caught up in all the details, costs, and plans of selecting your venue, but don’t forget to check in with your partner for their thoughts. You are sharing your wedding day with them and it’s important for them to have a say in the decisions made as well. Sure, they might not care as much about the venue as you do, but they’ll appreciate knowing you value their opinion and want to include them.
All in all, stay true to yourself and your partner during the venue selection process. It’s easy to get overwhelmed with the options and frustrated if the venue doesn’t line up with everything you want, but don’t get discouraged. Make a pro and con list, comparison chart, or whatever you need to do to evaluate all your options. By doing your research and due diligence and asking these important questions, I have no doubt that you will find your perfect wedding venue.