Choosing a wedding venue is the most expensive, most complex, and arguably the most important part of the wedding. Every other decision you make regarding your wedding will rest on the type of venue you choose. The theme of the wedding, your bridal attire, the type of cake, food… all these decisions will fall into place once you’ve chosen your venue.
In a lot of cases, the wedding venue ends up costing around half of the entire wedding’s budget – typically a 5-digit sum that’s not easy to fit with most people’s financial abilities.
This only makes the choice even harder as you have to find a way to get both the perfect wedding venue for your dream wedding and, at the same time, manage the price of the venue so that you don’t start your married life completely broke.
Additionally, it needs to be pointed out, that a lot of the factors that go in choosing the perfect wedding venue are very much subjective. Some people like getting married in barns and farms for the rural and “American” feel they provide, others go for city lofts or industrial warehouses for the modern touch, while others prefer the classic ballroom or hotel. There are those that go for outdoor weddings at beaches or meadows, and even those that choose to marry on a mountain top.
Still, there are some objective factors and plenty of general tips that can be mentioned. And, yes, there are objectively bad wedding venues that pretty much no one would be happy with. S
So, if you’re wondering what to look for in a wedding venue, here’s our wedding venue checklist of the 10 main tips you should keep in mind:
- 1- Figure out how many guests you’re going to have
- 2- Figure out how much money you can spare for the venue
- 3- Choose independent venue photos
- 4- Choose an off-season date
- 5- Pick a venue that has the right theme and ambiance for your wedding
- 6- Don’t jump on the first venue that matches your criteria
- 7- Consider all the spaces you’re going to need
- 8- The location of the venue is also vital
- 9- Consider the food and the vendors you’re going to use
- 10- Ask if you’ll have the venue exclusively for yourselves
1- Figure out how many guests you’re going to have
Every dedicated wedding venue you check will likely have a minimum and a maximum guest count. That means that it won’t be able to fit more than a certain amount but also that it won’t settle for less than a certain amount either. If you’re not sure how many guests you’re going to have it’s usually best to aim for a lower number as you’ll be more likely to add more guests as the date draws near than to remove guests.
2- Figure out how much money you can spare for the venue
As we mentioned, the wedding venue is usually the most expensive part of the whole wedding – not just the space itself but also all the additional decorations. Once you have a solid number you’re not willing to go above, use it in your online search – there’s no point physically visiting a venue you know you’re not going to be able to afford. Using venue search directories such as The Venue Report is a great way to start looking as it includes search functions such as price, venue type, location, and more.
3- Choose independent venue photos
The photographs most venue websites put are obviously arranged and not always very trustworthy. Instead, when a certain venue catches your eye, check the online blogs of photographers and wedding planners for realistic photos of the venue. This can save you a lot of time and money from travelling to not-so-good venues with deceptively alluring photos.
4- Choose an off-season date
This can open up a lot of venue possibilities and most offer excellent discounts and incentives to get you to choose them. Most people tend to get married during the summer-autumn months of the year. Most people also get married on the weekends, for obvious reasons. This means that it’s both harder and more expensive to find a good venue for, say, a summer weekend. At the same time – it’s less expensive and much easier to find the perfect venue on a late spring Friday. Additionally, once you’ve chosen a date you can easily weed out unavailable venues without having to visit them in person.
5- Pick a venue that has the right theme and ambiance for your wedding
As we said above – there are no limits to what venue you can choose for your wedding – from golden beaches or mountain tops to ballrooms and barns. Instead of going with the flow and picking something traditional, think of what theme and feel you want your wedding to have. Not to mention that picking a less traditional wedding venue can also be cheaper. Just make sure that whatever you choose is actually fit for a wedding and covers for multiple eventualities. One common mistake is picking an outdoor venue with no nearby indoor “safety net” in case of bad weather.
6- Don’t jump on the first venue that matches your criteria
There’s an instinct most couples have to go for the first thing they find they like and to even elevate it to a “perfect” status in their minds. Take it from us – there’s always a better venue. We’re not saying that you should check every possible venue on the continent before you make your choice, but it pays to check out a few more before you make your choice.
7- Consider all the spaces you’re going to need
A wedding venue is not just a big empty space for you to get married in. It’s where you’ll sometimes have the ceremony, the cocktails after it, then the dinner, the dancing, and so on. It should have more than enough spaces for everything, and then some, just in case.
8- The location of the venue is also vital
Consider where your guests are going to be coming from and how they are going to get to the wedding venue. Are you going to cover the transportation? Even if not, a venue with an unsuitable location can be both tricky and expensive to get to.
9- Consider the food and the vendors you’re going to use
Ask whether the venue you’re look at has any vendor instructions. Ask if they have in-house catering, in-house bands, photographers, or wedding coordinators that go with the venue. Ask to sample/check all of them as you don’t want to be stuck with a catering service, band or photographer you don’t actually want. Make sure you’re certain of what’s included with the venue and what isn’t.
10- Ask if you’ll have the venue exclusively for yourselves
And if not – make sure you’re ok with the arrangements of the venue and that the two (or more) events won’t clash.
As a bonus eleventh tip
Make sure that you don’t get pressured into signing before you’re sure. Most venue representatives will try to persuade you to sign as soon as possible. They’ll tell you that there are a lot of offers, that your date won’t be available anymore by the end of the day, and so on, and so forth. These things may very well be true and not be said maliciously, but even then you should be cautious and make sure you’re not making the choice too hastily. It’s better to miss out on a really good wedding venue because you hadn’t figured out all the details in time than to end up with a surprisingly and unexpectedly bad wedding venue because you were in a rush.
Of course, there are countless more tips we could list here but most of them would be either subjective or derivative. At the end of the day, the rule of thumb is to start thinking, planning, and preparing well in advance, not leave anything for the last minute, and make sure you’ve checked and planned for every detail.
Weddings are massive and complicated endeavors so there are a lot of things that can go wrong during the preparations or during the event itself. As with life, we can’t possibly prepare for every eventuality but we can certainly prepare for most of the big ones.