Updated: Jun 30
Congratulations, you’re engaged!! You are happy and excited to marry the love of your life and can’t wait to start planning your dream wedding! You’ve told all of your friends and family and have taken a dozen ring selfies (isn’t it funny how all the sudden you become left handed? 😊). But then, it happens: You realize you have no clue where to start with wedding planning and all of the sudden that happiness and excitement turns to anxiety and panic! Don’t let this be you! Over the next year, we will be sharing blog posts detailing all the steps to planning your perfect wedding! From the venue to the cake, there is no such thing as a one size fits all and knowledge is power my friends! So, without further ado, here’s our first on how to choose the perfect wedding venue! Enjoy!
If there’s one thing in a wedding that is not optional, it’s a venue! After all, you have to have a place for your friends and family to celebrate! There are so many beautiful options; rather you are wanting an elegant ballroom, cozy restaurant, stunning barn or you want to get hitched on the beach under the stars. We are sharing our tips for finding the perfect location for you and yours!
Talk to a planner first:
A lot of couples forgo hiring a wedding planner because “it’s not in the budget”. Trust us when we say, you can’t afford not to. They can help you save THOUSANDS of dollars and more than pay for themselves in the long run. We will be doing a whole separate Blog post on this, but for now, we will leave you with this: before you start looking at wedding venues, talk to a wedding planner. Planners are the perfect resource to help you find the perfect venue that fits your style and budget and will know exactly what it takes to transform any space!
Draft a budget:
Before you start looking at venues, draft your budget. The last thing you want to do is sign a contract with a venue only to later realize you have nothing left to pay a DJ or feed your guests. We recommend talking to your families and your significant other to see what everyone can contribute and what you have to work with. Then, use this number to allocate funds appropriately. Once again, a planner in your area is the best person to advise.
Consider what’s included:
Our next two sections can make or break that budget we just discussed. Selecting a venue is much more than the cost of the space itself, there are lots of things to consider. If your venue is a blank slate and doesn’t include things like tables and chairs, this can tack on a significant amount of money in the rental category. On the contrary, if they include tables, chairs, linens and centerpieces ask to check out what these items look like. More often than not the “all inclusive” venues inventory may not fit with the “vision” we talk about a little further down so you may decide to rent these items. If this is the case, we recommend getting a couple preliminary quotes from rental companies to get a clear picture of what you will be spending.
Sometimes a venue makes you use one or all of their exclusive vendors, usually a caterer and/or bar staff. These exclusive vendors can get really pricy (it’s supply and demand people) so we recommend checking out their sample menus or getting a quote to see if they align with the budget. Don’t forget to add tax and gratuity of 20%! On another note, you and your fiancé may have your heart set on a certain type of cuisine that that particular caterer doesn’t offer so you may have to compromise.
Ask yourself, does this fit my vision:
There are a ton of gorgeous venues out there so when you are doing your research, keep your vision in mind! If you want a French countryside setting, a ballroom in the city is not the right space for you. We always tell our clients, when you walk in, you will just know!
Knowing how many guests you are planning to invite is crucial in your research. If you choose a space that is too small for your guests or you end up with more RSVP’s than you were anticipating, you might find yourself navigating through a sticky situation. While not everyone you invite will be able to attend, you need to find a venue that will at least fit everyone you plan on inviting. So, in a nutshell, if you are inviting 300 guests, you need a venue that fits at least 300.
Consider your guest experience:
If your wedding venue is in the city where things like Uber and public transit are readily available, then great. If your venue is more remote, are you okay with needing to provide transportation for guests to and from a hotel? If everyone is driving, is there ample parking (paid or unpaid)? Again, transportation can be a big line item on your budget if you’re footing the bill.
Does the layout/space fit your needs:
For example, if you’re doing your ceremony, cocktail hour and reception all in one venue, are there three different spaces for all those events? If not, will you need to do a room flip? A “flip” is when the ceremony space becomes the reception space during cocktail hour. While this is a great option to make a venue work for you, be sure to ask about how it is done: where will the reception tables be stored? Will it require you to rent pipe and drape (a fabric wall that hides things from guests)? Will it require the florist and decorator to come back after the ceremony (this will often times cost an additional fee)? If the you are wanting an outdoor wedding, what is the rain plan? Do you need to rent a tent (this can be very costly)? Are there separate grooms and brides quarters so you don’t bump into each other before hand? Is the bridal suit big enough to hold your entire wedding party and an entourage of hair and make up stylists? See printable checklist at the end for more questions to ask!
Stay true to yourselves:
With the influx in social media, Pinterest and the internet, we come across swoon worth weddings all the time! It can be very easy to fall in love with an image you see online, and many couples choose a venue that fits with a picture they have in their head. Ask yourself, does this venue feel authentic to who we are as a couple? Choose a space that is a representation of who you are.
Research before you go:
We’ve given you a lot of things to think about, so we will leave you with this….research, research, research!
Want to know what additional questions to ask? Click here to print a list of things to ask when touring and researching!