How to Choose the Right Wedding Venue

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You can’t have a wedding without a venue! Choosing the right venue is essential for the look and feel that you envision for your wedding. It’ll be a day you will look back on for the rest of your life, so you’ll want to make sure it’s worthy of such an important event. Here are some things you’ll want to consider in order to find the right venue.

Start looking early

The best way to ensure you get your dream venue is to start looking early. Venues can get booked 12-18 months in advance, so the sooner you book, the better. However, don’t book the first venue you see – try to see at least three venues. Explore your options and see what you like the most. Make sure you weigh the pros and cons of each venue to determine which one is right for you. If you’re having a wedding in another state or country, try to see the venue in person before booking it. If this doesn’t work out for you logistically, it’s entirely possible to coordinate with the vendor over the phone and email. If you’re considering having a destination wedding, check out our blog post Destination Weddings Vs. Traditional Weddings.

Work with your guest list

Of course, you’ll need a venue that can hold all of your guests. You’ll want to figure out how many guests you’re planning on inviting before you start your venue search. This will save you time and disappointment down the road – you don’t want to have your heart set on a venue only for it to be too small for your wedding. Similarly, make sure your venue isn’t too big for your guest list. There’s no point in spending more money on a larger venue if you have a smaller guest list. It’ll also be harder for you to make your wedding feel intimate with a needlessly large venue.

When looking for your venue, never assume most of your guests will decline to attend. You will be surprised at who will actually show up to the wedding! If you’re inviting 200 people to your wedding, make sure the venue you choose can actually fit 200 people. To learn more about how to create your guest list, read our blog post here.

Know your budget

Your venue and catering will take up about half of your wedding budget – so it’s important to make sure you stay within your spending limits. Remember that you’ll have to pay taxes as well as service fees and gratuity if catering is included with your venue.

You’ll want to take into account what is included with your venue, if anything is at all. For example, some venues include tables and banquet chairs which sometimes can cost more upfront than a rental service. If the venue includes items such as table linens, they may not fit in with the vision that you have for your wedding so you may end up spending more than necessary. Decorations add up in the long run, so you’ll want to keep that in mind.

Another thing that will drive up the cost of your venue is going overtime. Most venues allow you to use the space for a specific amount of time, and if you go over the contracted amount of time, you will be charged an additional fee that’s usually even higher than the hourly rate. Make sure to thoroughly check your venue contracts so you understand what you could be charged. Although they are not lawyers, a wedding planner can help you decipher your vendor’s contract. Read our blog post about whether or not you should hire a wedding planner here.

Consider your guests

Having your closest friends and family present at your wedding is a big part of what makes it so special. Many of them may be coming to your wedding from out of town. Try to find a venue that’s close to a hotel for the convenience of your out-of-town guests.

You’ll also want to consider accessibility, especially if you’re hopping from a church to your reception. Make sure your reception can be easily reached from your starting place. You don’t want to lose half of your family and friends for the celebration! You should also make sure your venue has enough parking spaces for your guests to travel with ease.

In order to ensure the comfort of your guests, ask your vendors if the venue can comfortably fit all of your guests. A venue might say they can fit 200 people, but that doesn’t mean they can do so comfortably. You won’t want to overcrowd your space, especially if it’s an outdoor wedding in the middle of the summer. There’s nothing worse than being crammed in between other hot, uncomfortable guests.

Consider your style

This may seem obvious, but make sure your venue matches with your vision and personal tastes. There are plenty of beautiful venues, but that doesn’t mean they are right for you. Follow your heart when choosing your venue.

A lot of couples nowadays are having their weddings at non-traditional venues such as art museums and zoos. Think outside the box – unique venues make for a fun and memorable wedding. A venue like an art museum can be really meaningful for you and your partner if you both love art. Keep in mind that you may need to be more hands-on with an unconventional venue. If you have your wedding at a zoo, they likely won’t provide any services for you to help set up for your wedding. If you don’t want to have to arrange for these services yourself, you may want to go with a traditional venue.

Pay attention to the little details

When you visit a potential venue, be sure to take note of the lighting. It’s difficult even for a professional photographer to take quality photos in poor lighting. If you’re having your wedding in a dimly lit ballroom or outside during the evening, you may have to make arrangements for extra lighting, which means you’ll have to spend more money.

If you’re visiting your venue during the daytime, you’ll want to consider how the venue will look during the evening if you’d like to have an evening wedding. A venue can have an entirely different vibe at nighttime. It doesn’t hurt to ask the vendor if you can arrange for a tour in the evening.

If dancing is an important aspect of your wedding, ask your vendor if there are any local noise regulations. You could be fined by the city if your music is too loud in the evening. You’ll also want to make sure the dance floor is accessible. Some venues have smaller dance floors, or a dance floor on a separate floor, which can discourage guests from dancing. If you plan on dancing all night, make sure you are familiar with the venue’s hours of operations. You can be charged extra for using the venue overtime.

Ask your vendor if you’ll be the only ones using the venue. Some venues have multiple ballrooms. You don’t want another DJ’s music blaring through the wall to ruin your epic dance off. If your wedding is in a more public place, like the beach, you may have strangers in the background of your photos.

Take and request pictures

Make sure to take photos of the venue when you visit so you can reference them later. Your photos will be useful when you consider how you’d like to decorate for your wedding. You can also reference them later when weighing the pros and cons between different venues. If you see something you like or could be a potential problem, photograph it!

Ask the vendor to see previous wedding photos so you can see what the venue looks like when it’s occupied and decorated. A reputable vendor will have real wedding photos available for their clients.

Plan for the weather

If you’d like to have an outdoor wedding, have a backup plan in case it rains. For couples planning on having an outdoor wedding during the summer, consider having it towards the end of the day when it gets cooler. If you’re unable to arrange for an evening wedding, make sure your guests have shade to stay cool. If you live in an area with a lot of rain, you should probably scratch outdoor venues off your list altogether.

Looking for wedding inspiration? Check out our Pinterest to make your special day even more special.