Things to Consider When Choosing a Wedding Venue
(Photo by Juliana Tomlinson Photography)
Wedding planning is full of decisions, one of the biggest decisions you will have during the planning process is selecting your wedding venue. There are so many factors when making this big decision, so I wanted to give everyone some tips on what to look for and what to consider before finalizing your venue! This is not a comprehensive list of everything to consider, but these are a few of the big points that I think are very important!
The reason I am addressing venue availability and date flexibility first is because quality venues are booking so far in advance these days. It is important to consider when starting the planning process whether you and your fiance are set on a specific date/time of year you want to get married or if you are more set on finding the right venue, then choosing a date based on that venues availability. Neither scenario being wrong or right, however be mindful when you limit yourself to one or two dates that the number of venues accessible to you may go down drastically if you are not planning a couple years out.
Most couples are working with some sort of budget when planning their wedding and while price is not the end all be all factor in wedding planning, it does play an important role. Venue is typically one of the biggest ticket items in regards to cost so having an overall budget prior to venue shopping is important that way you can see approximately how much of your budget you are able to allocate towards your venue! Venue costs can also vary a ton depending on location, time of year, what they offer etc. A single venue may also vary in costs depending on what weekend day you are choosing, if you want a full weekend rental, as well as their "in season" pricing.
Before going and visiting venues, research and inquire on pricing and what each package includes. For example a venue may be $8000 for a Saturday rental, but all that includes is to actually use the reception venue, they may charge you extra for your ceremony to be there, for each guest chair and table that you need, trash removal, and there may not be many other services included. While some other venues may be $8000 and all of those tables, chairs, ceremony, rehearsal, trash, etc. are included in that price, so just things to consider!
Personally, I try to deter couples from going and visiting a venue that we know is already far out of their budgeted price range, so that one, you aren't disappointed and feel like no other venue will compare, or two, that you don't try to rationalize increasing your budget just to make that venue work. However, if there is venue you really like that may be slightly out of your price range for a Saturday June wedding, you could consider the possibility of maybe a March Sunday wedding based on the venues specific pricing structure which may bring the cost down for you!
Venue style in my opinion is one of the biggest factors when choosing your venue, as it is the backdrop off your wedding day and should reflect your overall theme and vision of your day. If you want a classic elegant feel to your wedding, a ballroom or estate venues could be great options, If you want a super rustic wedding, then you may opt for a barn wedding, if you like the modern vibe you may choose a industrial loft, warehouse, etc. This isn't to say that if you fall in love with a more rustic barn but wanted a super elegant setting, that you cannot do that, but you will end up having to spend a lot of extra money to bring in that elegance, opposed to if you go with a more elegant venue from the start you likely can save on decor costs!
Another important factor to consider is venue location. Unless you are planning a destination wedding, most couples like to stay relatively central to their homes or to their families for ease of access during the wedding weekend. Consider how far out of the way a venue may be for you, your families and friends. If you do choose to travel to a venue that isn't super local to you, ensure that their is plenty of accommodation options close by for you and your guests.
Secondly, depending on if you choose to have your ceremony and reception at your venue (I will touch more on this later) or you plan to have your ceremony at a church or another location, you want to consider the distance from ceremony location to reception location. You want to consider your guests in regards to them traveling and practicality of your wedding timeline when having two locations.
The number of spaces a venue has is another aspect to consider. If you are planning/wanting to have both your ceremony and reception at the same venue, then you may want to look into venues that have multiple spaces that you can utilize. In addition, if you were planning to have an outside ceremony it is important to make sure that there is an option for a backup plan in case of inclement weather, whether that be flipping the ceremony into a reception space, or having a totally different space to use!
Going along with this, you want to find out how many guests each venue can hold, you need to make sure that if you have guest count of 200 that the venue is able accommodate that number of guests comfortably. On the flip side if you are planning a small wedding, you may want to consider not having a super large venue space as it may be overwhelming and make it a less intimate setting.
One big thing that I always tell my clients to be mindful of is the restrictions that venues have For example, there are tons of venues that require couples to use their in house catering or other in house vendor services. Some venues may have a short list of required vendors that you have to choose from and other venues will provide you with a list of recommended vendors. It is important to know if you HAVE to choose certain vendors or if you have flexibility to bring in your own. For some couples that may have less time on their hands to spend shopping around for outside vendors, having in house staff or required vendors could be a great option to just keep everything in one spot with vendors who specialize and know that particular venue.
On the flip side, these in house vendors come with a cost and you typically do not have the flexibility to negotiate as much if you are on a tighter budget. Whether you are on a tighter budget and you wanted the ability to shop around to find vendors that fit your budget, or you just want the ability to bring in that amazing Taco truck for your big day, you want to know what you are and are not able to do at each venue. If you have lots of big ideas and you want very personal custom feel to your wedding, you may desire to be able to bring in your personal dream team of vendors, instead of having to use a team provided for you.
Additionally, regardless if a venue has in house vendors you have to use or not, make sure to ask questions like "am I able to use real candles, can I hang a flower installation from the ceiling, can my dog be a part of my ceremony, what time MUST the music stop? etc." Each venue will have their own specific set of rules and restrictions, so it is important to know all of that ahead of time!
When I say that accessibility is a factor, I mean that in a multiple of ways. When are you able to get into your venue on the day of, or the weekend of? Is the parking accessible for ease of guest access, is the venue handicap accessible? If the venue is large is there access to a golf cart or other transportation to assist elderly guests? Does the venue have restrooms?
Guest accessibility and handicap accessibility is something couples should consider, especially for your older guests, as well as the ease of moving around the property!
So everyone, if you are starting the process of searching for a venue, I hope this gives you some insight on some of the important factors to consider, again this isn't a comprehensive list, but a starting point! On the blog next week I will be sharing a list of the essential questions to ask your potential venues once you have narrowed down which ones you plan to visit. Happy Planning!