When selecting your wedding venue (or any event venue for that matter!), there are a few important factors to consider prior to starting your search. If you keep these five items in mind when searching for the perfect venue, you’ll be more confident in your final selection.
Where do you imagine getting married? What is the style of wedding you and your spouse-to-be dream of? Is it a traditional church and reception ballroom? A laid-back outdoor event near the water? In a vineyard or other destination? Make sure you determine the style of wedding prior to visiting options so you aren’t clouded with multiple different styles.
It’s also important to decide if you would like to host your ceremony & reception in the same location or two (church/chapel + reception venue). If you’re looking to host the ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception at one venue; make sure you see each of the designated spaces when touring potential venues.
As I mentioned in the Where to Begin post, you’ll want to draw up a preliminary guest list prior to visiting venues. I tell this to couples to prevent them from falling in love with a venue that is either too small or way too large. Your list does not have to be final but it’s incredibly important to have a ballpark figure prior to starting the search. If you drew up your initial list and you’re around 200 guests and the venue you love only fits 150, you’ll have to decide if you’re willing to cut the guest list or eliminate the venue from contention.
It’s important to get a general idea of what a venue is going to cost while you’re touring potential sites. If it’s going to be way outside your budget, you want to know sooner rather than later. Consider rental fees for the space, average price per person (if catering is included), what is included that won’t have to be rented (tables, chairs, etc.), availability for up-charges (nicer chairs, uplighting, etc.), transportation costs for guests, as well as service & gratuity fees.
If you decide to go with a venue that is truly a blank canvas, I urge you to overestimate what your vendors will cost. Usually, there is something you didn’t even think about that will pop up later in the planning process. For example, does your blank-canvas venue include access to a kitchen or does all of the kitchen equipment have to be rented and brought in? Are there restrooms close or do you have to bring them in? Usually these big open spaces will need a bit more of decor as well which can increase your floral/decor budget. A lot of little things to consider when you’re working with an empty space.
4. Location, Location, Location!
If you’re holding your ceremony in one location and reception in another, it is important to consider the distance between the two locations. This will impact the amount of time between the end of the ceremony and start of cocktail hour. Make sure there is ample time for guests to make their way from one to the other, with a little extra wiggle room. Transportation is always appreciated if you are able to provide for guests. This makes the transition between locations easier on guests and provides safe transportation at the end of the evening.
Are your guests coming in from out of town or are they mostly local? If they’re coming in from out of town, it’s nice to host them in an area with lots to do and/or beautiful surroundings. Everyone is taking the time to celebrate with you, it’s an added bonus when they can stay in a great, fun area while they are in town. Especially if you’re bringing your soon-to-be-spouse’s family in to your hometown, it’s special to show them a great time and your favorite local hot spots.
5. Plan B
We all wish for the best weather on each and every wedding day but sometimes, weather happens! It’s important to select a venue that you feel completely comfortable with your “Plan B” option. It’s not just in case of rain but it could be in case of extreme heat as well. When you’re comfortable with your alternate option, it will relieve a lot of stress hoping for the best weather – something you absolutely cannot control!
If you’re just starting your venue search, good luck! Remember, the venue sets a major tone for the entire event so make sure it’s telling the story you’ve been imagining. Enjoy this incredibly exciting time in the wedding planning process and if you have any questions about venue selection, send us an email! [firstname.lastname@example.org]