Choosing Your Wedding Venue

A lot of thought goes into each decision for your wedding day. When you’re just starting to plan, choosing your wedding venue is usually at the top of the list. We completely understand why!

Your wedding venue plays a big role in creating the tone of your wedding.  So, how do you choose the best one for your big day? We think following a few helpful tips can make your venue-hunting more enjoyable and easier. 

Create a Spreadsheet

Knowing where to begin can often be the most overwhelming part! And once you’ve started looking into options, how do you keep all the information straight?

In order to be able to weigh out all of the pros and cons of each of your prospective venues, we recommend creating a spreadsheet! It sounds simple, but by listing out all of your options and writing different features, fees, requirements, etc. for each one, you can step back and look at everything.

Maybe there are two venues that cost the same, but one gives you more event hours. Maybe the service charge on one venue is lower than another, or they charge for staff versus another that doesn’t. Using checkmarks to see which venue has the most pros is a good way to find your best option.

Point being, we think that in order to select the perfect venue, you need to stay organized. A spreadsheet will make your narrowing down and decision process much easier. 

When creating your spreadsheet, some of the details you should consider are..

  1. Price
  2. Size/Capacity
  3. Layout
  4. Location
  5. Style/Type of Venue
  6. Parking/Transportation
  7. Catering Restrictions
  8. Venue Availability
  9. Other Major Venue Restrictions Price
  10. Size/Capacity
  11. Layout
  12. Location
  13. Style/Type of Venue

Determine Your Priorities!

Before you can choose a venue, you need to know which aspects are the most important to you. It’s hard to decide when you don’t know what you want, right? Part of the search process may even open your eyes to things you hadn’t considered, so keep in mind that these priorities can change.

However, having a general idea of your wedding style and the feel you’re going for can help you nix prospective venues right off the bat. If you know you want your ceremony and reception in the same place, venues that can’t accommodate this can be easily crossed off.

Also, ironing out a few details can help you make your decision, like your expected guest count. The size of your wedding can definitely influence your venue choice. It also plays a role in the overall price, once it’s all said and done. So, knowing this ahead of time can be a big help in choosing between a venue that charges for table and chair rentals versus one that doesn’t.

Begin Your Search Early!

It is not uncommon to have your venue booked a year to a year and a half before your wedding date. The sooner you begin your search, the more likely you are to get your first choice. 

There are couples that have a specific date in mind and that’s the most important thing when it comes to finding a venue. However, you don’t have to pick your wedding date first, if there isn’t one that jumps out at you. Many times, setting your date first can limit your venue options, because they are already booked.

If you fall into the category of brides that don’t have a sentimental date in mind, that’s okay! Finding the perfect venue can definitely be a higher priority than having a specific wedding date. This allows you to be more flexible! You can choose the venue you love most and then select your date based off of the availability the venue has open.

Have a Budget

It would be a major bummer to spend a lot of time narrowing down your options to pick the perfect venue, just to find out that you cannot afford it. That’s why determining your budget is one of the first things on our list of things to do once you get engaged. We discuss this and other important to dos in our blog: You’re Engaged!! Now What??

So, what do you do with that budget information? First, try to run through all of the venues you are seriously considering and get a rough idea of what this venue will cost you. You may not be able to get an exact, final cost right away, but understanding roughly what the venue will cost will help you weed out non-feasible venues.

Some venues will offer packages that may include chairs, tables, rentals, decorations, etc. whereas other venues may offer nothing other than the empty space. A venue may seem cheaper at first, but will rentals rack up the bill and push you out of your projected budget? This is something important to think about.

It’s also important to consider the catering criteria as well. If on-site catering is required, what do those costs look like? If you’re allowed to select from only preferred vendors, are all of those vendors out of your catering budget? The amount of research you have to do may grow for certain beloved venue choices, but it’s better to know ahead of time. Otherwise, you might find yourself watching your budget slowly get out of control, after you’ve signed the contract and it’s too late to turn back.

Two Venues or One?

There are pros and cons to both having one venue for the ceremony and reception, or for having two separate venues. Having one venue has some extra convenience for you and your guests. No one has to worry about transportation from one venue to the next, and that’s also a potential cost you can eliminate. It can also allow for a smooth transition form the ceremony, to cocktail hour, to the reception. 

Having separate venues has its perks too! Having a separate venue for each allows you to have a special and intimate ceremony and also to create a very unique and beautiful reception experience. Your guests can enjoy cocktail hour without going into the reception area, so you can sneak a peak at how your decor turned out before they enter the room. We do think it’s important to avoid transportation and parking hassles by planning ahead though.

How to Choose!

Choosing your venue clearly has a lot of factors to consider, and making a final choice can seem overwhelming. However, at the end of the day, it comes down to your gut feeling. If you fall in love with a venue, any of the cons on your list might be easily overcome.

Visiting venues is a great way to make that final decision, and we definitely think you need to lay your eyes on your venue space before signing the contract. This will allow you to talk to the people that will be taking care of you on such an important day.

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