One of the very first things you’ll do when you become newly engaged is begin your search for that perfect wedding venue. Your venue will help set the look for your special day so there are definitely things to consider when it comes to choosing a wedding venue. Depending on what you’re looking for, your search may be easy or a little difficult but no matter what type of wedding you’re having, you’ll want to think about these things:
1. Choosing a venue is NOT the first thing you should do! I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again; the very first thing you should do is your guest list! Your guest list will define almost every aspect of your wedding day including your wedding venue space. You’ll need to have a rough idea of the number of people that will be attending your wedding to help weed out the spaces that are too small or too big. And yes there is such a things as too big! If you’re only having 50 guests, please don’t pick a venue that’s more suited to fit 200 guests! You space will end up filling HUGE and not in a good way.
2. Think about your budget. Many a couple have blown their budget on the “perfect” wedding venue only to not be able to afford the other elements that would make the space truly shine. The cost of renting a wedding venue can vary wildly so consider your budget when selecting your space.
3. Dates and times matter! If you are flexible in your date, it can work out in your favor. Popular wedding venues can book up more than a year in advance but you may be able to secure your favorite place if you’re open to having your wedding on a Friday or Sunday or even during the week. Off-season weddings can also give you more options when it comes to availability.
4. Please think about the weather! I went to an outdoor wedding in the DC area in the middle of July. For context, DC was technically built on swamp lands. So in the middle of July, it feels exactly like that! Even though it was a morning wedding and they had fans, it was hot and everyone was sweating within the first 30 minutes. The wedding was a blast, but no one really liked being out in the heat! When it comes to outdoor weddings, think about the time of year. Extremely hot or cold weather will not be fun for you or your guests. You’ll also want to make sure the venue has indoor space that can accommodate your plans in the event of rain.
5. Don’t forget about the look you are trying to achieve. If you’re planning an over-the-top, blinged out wedding, don’t even bother looking at rustic locations. You’ll never get the look you’re trying to go for it the venue doesn’t fit in stylistically.
6. Decide on full-service or just the space. Some venues will offer everything – catering, lighting, rentals, etc. Others will just be the space itself and it’ll be up to you to provide everything else. There are certainly pros and cons when it comes to either option so decide what’s most important to you. If you choose a “blank canvas” venue, remember that you’ll need to budget more for rentals, catering, etc.
7. Don’t forget about the ceremony. Some couples choose to have the ceremony and reception in the same place. If you do, make sure that the venue can accommodate that. Check to see if there is a place your guests can go if the room requires a flip from ceremony to reception. If you’re having a religious ceremony that must be held in a house of worship, choose that first and then focus your radius for a reception venue around that. No one (including you) will want to travel far between the ceremony and reception venues. Remember, travel time cuts into photo time and party time! My own wedding was held at our church and the reception was about a 15-minute drive. We were able to get our photos done early and enjoy the cocktail hour with our guests. Had we picked a location further away, we probably wouldn’t have been able to.
Once you’ve narrowed down your list, book appointments to view the spaces. Try to visit during the time your wedding will be taking place so you can see what the space will look like. Some venues that may look horrible during the day can look awesome during your nighttime wedding reception. If you’ve booked other vendors first, make sure to check that they will be allowed at the wedding venue. Some spaces have strict rules on outside vendors. Found the perfect spot? Don’t wait to book it or it may get snatched up by someone else! Once you’ve settled on your wedding venues, it’ll be a lot easier for everything else to fall into place.