When it comes to planning your special day, choosing a wedding venue will be one of the first things you check off your to-do list- it helps to pretty much get everything else rolling. With so many available options, this task may be a bit overwhelming for some couples-to-be, but not to worry! From beaches to churches to even barns and castles, I’m here to help guide you through this process so you can find what’s right for you!
First things first, what type of event do you want? Formal or informal? Traditional or modern? These are some of the first questions you should ask yourself when determining your preferred style for both the ceremony and reception. Once you’ve set a clear vision, it’ll be easier for you to narrow down your list of venues.
It’s also important you think about whether or not you’d like to have two separate venues or an all-in-one. For example, if you’re going the traditional route, you may book a church for the ceremony and a hotel ballroom for the reception. Now if you’re looking for options that are easier on your budget then sticking to just one venue would be your best bet!
Your budget will ultimately be the determining factor when searching for wedding venues. Whether you choose to have one or two venues, this is where the majority of your budget will go so it’s important to ask yourself “Can I really afford this venue?” If you’ve already looked up a few and know they’re out of your price range, save yourself the heartbreak and don’t even bother visiting them. There are plenty of places that can bring the vision you have for your magical day to life!
3. Local or Destination
Dreaming of saying “I Do” in front of your friends & family at your community church? See yourself walking down the aisle barefoot on a tropical island? Aside from budget, WHERE you want to get married will be the most important thing to consider when looking for venues. If you do decide on a destination wedding, think about how easy it will be for your guests to get there, but most importantly, make sure wherever you decide is where you and your significant other can picture saying “HELL YES!” to forever to!
4. Guest Count
Picking a venue that’s the right size is essential to contributing to the vibe of your wedding. Depending on the number of guests you invite, you’ll need to look for locations that accommodate accordingly. If the place is too small, your guests will be cramped, if it’s too large, then it may look too empty and give off a cold feeling. When looking for venues, make sure they have the capacity to host your guests as well as any other activities you may want to include.
5. Transportation Time
When it comes to transportation, it’s all about location, location, location! If you’ve decided to choose two different sites, then you must take into consideration how far apart they are from each other. How long will it take your guests to get from one venue to the next? Are they in high traffic areas? Also, if the majority of your guests are coming in from out of town, consider choosing a venue that’s easily accessible by road or near an airport.
6. Getting Ready
Believe it or not, where you do your hair, makeup and step into your dream dress is a factor when it comes to deciding on your wedding venue. How long will it take you to get to your venue? Is it in your budget to book a hotel room for “prep-time” with your bridal party? Fortunately, some venues have rooms on site where you can get ready- this is ideal so you can have less stress and not worry about extra transportation costs to the venue. However, if you prefer to get ready in the comfort of your own home or elsewhere, keep in mind the timing of how long it will take you & your party to get ready as well as how long it will take you to get to the venue. You don’t want to be late to your “I Dos”!
Parking is often times over-looked when looking for dream venues but it’s actually a critical factor. When visiting venues, ensure there’s plenty of parking space. If parking is lacking then find a nearby parking lot available and consider providing a shuttle service for your guests. Carpooling with other guests as well as suggesting other services such as Uber & Lyft could also be a great way to ensure parking won’t be an issue on your day!
8. Guest Accommodations
Thinking about holding your wedding at a grandiose castle or maybe at a charming barn somewhere a little further out than usual? Then it’s important you see if your venue has its own accommodations or if there are accommodations nearby- this is to keep in mind guests who are traveling as well as the availability of taxis afterwards for guests that may have had a little too much fun!
Many venues have exclusive vendor lists which to put it simply, means you can only choose vendors from their list- this can include everything from catering, photographers and even wedding planners. These are usually businesses the venue has worked with before so the upside to this is these vendors work there often and know all of the ins and outs of the spaces! Now if you were hoping to choose your own vendors then that should be one of the first things you inquire about when researching venues.
10. Back-Up Plan
When it comes to outdoor ceremonies/receptions, back-up plans are a must! Mother nature has a funny way of working and sometimes she is not on our side. Although they say rain on your wedding day is good luck, too much of it can put a damper on your plans which will then call for a backup plan. Does your venue provide one in case of an emergency? Be sure to read your contract thoroughly before signing in case you have any questions about cancellation policies due to natural disasters as well as contingency plans.
Some venues have noise restrictions that limit how late you can dance the night away to. Others give you the option of extending the reception for an additional fee. If you know you & your guests will want to keep the party going until late, keep in consideration what restrictions your venue may have- whether they have strict hours or you wish to not pay anymore fees, you can always keep the festivities going with an after-party elsewhere!
Near or far, rustic or classic, the perfect wedding venue is out there waiting for you to find it! Keep all of the above things in consideration and I promise finding your venue(s) will be easier than you think!