How to Choose a Wedding Venue
Ah the wedding venue. The place where you’ll commit yourself to the most important person in your life. It’s where you speak your vows. Where tears, laughter, hugs and joy take place. It’s where the magic happens.
And like all other wedding planning decisions there are a myriad of options. It could be one spot. It could be two. Heck it could be three.
So where do you start. How do you begin to sift through the pages upon pages of search results? What’s that magical secret that will make your life so much easier?
It’s my favorite tool whenever I have to plan something – a spreadsheet!
I know, I know – how boring is that? But I swear. It works. And before you decide to say “f all” and go for the “I’m feeling lucky” google search result – give it a chance. It will save your sanity. I promise.
But before you begin adding the 100+ wedding venues you’ve already started looking at here are a few important things to think about:
Wedding Venue Capacity
How many people can the venue host? One of the most important items to consider when you’re searching for that perfect spot. Having your 100+ guests crammed into a space meant for 50? Yeah it’s not ideal.
I recommend making sure you have a solid guest list before you choose your venue. And keep in mind to use the total number of guests you’re inviting – not the number of people you’ll think will attend.
Even though most weddings end up with an 80% attendance rate there are always some surprises when it comes to wedding guests. Maybe cousin Mary and her family decide to make a vacation out of it and end up coming. Or that college roommate thinks “Heck yeah! I’m abso-freaking-lutely going to this wedding! It’s at a winery! And all my college friends I haven’t seen in years will be there!”
So make sure your venue can accommodate close to your total guest list. In case everyone decides to come celebrate (because come on – you’re awesome and why wouldn’t everyone show up?!)
Type of Venue
This is one of the more fun items to think about. And it’s a lot easier when you’ve determined the general vibe of your wedding day. Would you like a laid back forest feel? Or a rustic barn with beautiful grounds for guests to wander around during cocktail hour? Or you’re envisioning an urban industrial venue with plenty of space for an epic dance party.
Once you’ve narrowed down your options can start to do some site visits. You’ll get a better sense of how the venue feels, how it flows and how it looks in person during your appointment. Does the space look nice as is or does it need more decorating?
You may not be able to visit your top venue in person (you know who you are you destination wedding planning people you). But never fear! Setting up a video call or having a friend/relative go check it out for you are great workarounds.
And one last practical thing to consider is where is the venue located. Are you planning on getting married at a church, a beautiful clearing in the woods or somewhere else where you can’t host the reception? If so make sure your reception site is close enough to your ceremony site so your guests don’t have to travel very far between the two.
If you’re looking at a more remote spot for your wedding make sure to check out local lodging options. This also applies if you’re hosting a lot of out of town guests. Also consider how everyone will be getting to your venue. And if you’d be OK with providing transportation if it’s needed.
When my husband and I began reviewing our different wedding venue choices we realized that every venue did things a little different. For example, does the venue have a preferred vendor list that requires you to hire a certain caterer or wedding planner? Is there a Plan B for if the weather doesn’t cooperate and you need to move your outdoor ceremony indoors? Some venues will flip the ceremony site into the reception hall. If so, make sure you get an explanation on how that process will work. Do they have a corkage fee or allow you to bring in your own alcohol? Does the venue have tables and chairs or do you need to rent? What does the site fee cover?
And don’t be afraid to ask any question. The more information you have the easier it will be to make your venue choice!
Now go start that super exciting spreadsheet to find that perfect wedding venue to host your celebration!