Tips for Selecting a Wedding Venue
You’ve got the ring. You’ve set the date. Now it’s time to find the perfect setting for your big day. But how do you choose between an elegant indoor setting and a picturesque garden wedding? An intimate hotel reception or a museum gallery gala? Here are some helpful tips to help you narrow it down.
By Katherine Ladny Mitchell
Full PDF here.
Before You Book, Ask…
Who’s on my guest list? Your venue should comfortably accommodate your guests, so you’ll need a rough idea of numbers before you get started. A large guest list will require a large venue. If your dream venue can only host a small celebration, you may need to shorten your guest list. Note any guests who may require handicap access, childcare or special menus for food allergies. Your guests should enjoy your wedding almost as much as you!
How much work do I want to do? Professional wedding planners have experience working with several venues and can help pair you with one that best fits your needs. Many venues offer all-inclusive wedding packages. Such packages may ultimately cost less, and after all, who wants the hassle of renting tables, linens, chairs, etc., etc.?
Do I want a separate location for my ceremony and reception? If you choose separate locations for your ceremony and reception, note the time it will take for your guests to travel from one site to the other. Make sure both venues can comfortably accommodate your entire guest list. If you select an all-in-one venue, see whether the ceremony and reception will take place in the same location or in separate portions of the building. Know how long it will take to convert your ceremony site into the reception area.
Space. Visit a prospective venue and experience the space yourself. Too much space can make your event feel less intimate. Too little space can make your guests feel cramped. Is there room for the band? Where are the restrooms? Is the building up to code? Get a copy of the floor plan and make sure you have enough room for all tables, chairs, catering and equipment.
Parking. Make it as easy as possible for guests to attend your wedding by ensuring there is enough parking on site to accommodate them all. Find out if your venue offers complimentary valet parking, or charges a fee. Consider hiring a valet or shuttle if parking is limited.
Theme/Décor. Your venue’s décor should mirror your personal taste and create an appropriate mood. Review the venue’s wedding portfolio for ideas. Do you like the lighting? Is there a good view? Will the colors clash with your decorations? Don’t forget to ask when you can begin decorating.
For Free or Fee? Before you sign a contract, know exactly what’s covered (and what’s not). Get an itemized statement of all costs, keep all deposit receipts and follow a payment schedule.
Our #1 Piece of Advice:
Start Early. You can’t send your wedding invitations until you know where to send your guests. Since many venues book up months in advance, research several sites and schedule to visit several venues. Starting early will reduce stress and keep your options open.
Your venue should reflect your personal taste, serve your guests and host a memorable celebration of your union. With your strategic plan in place, you’ll select a setting that will make you smile for many anniversaries to come.