While every aspect of a wedding planning is important, there's definitely one thing that sticks out a little more than the rest, and that's how to choose a wedding venue. After all, you need somewhere for all of your people to gather and celebrate you and your sweetheart!
Whether your wedding is small and intimate, or a bigger celebration, choosing a wedding venue can be a pretty stressful task during the wedding planning process. There are so many things to think about when making your decision, will it be indoors or outdoors? What style are you going for? A barn or a ballroom? A historical home or beach vibe? The opportunities for choosing a wedding venue are endless, but we’re here to help you narrow your choices down to the perfect one for you.
Talk to a Wedding Planner First
We may be a little biased, but we’re also speaking the truth! Before you choose a wedding venue we highly recommend talking to a wedding planner first. Of course, we do have some clients that already have their venue booked upon coming to us, but for some couples the wedding venue search can be a little more difficult which is where our expertise comes in handy.
Wedding planners are likely to be much more familiar with possible locations and spaces than you, your fiancé, or your family may be. Not only that, but we know how to creatively picture and transform these spaces to help bring your wedding vision to life. We can't tell you how many times couples have turned away from certain venues because they just couldn't “see it” in that space. A wedding planner is there to help you choose your wedding venue while offering a little creativity as well.
Choose Your Wedding’s General Location
You can't narrow down your wedding venue search until you decide on a specific location. Where do you want your wedding to be held? You or your partner's hometown? Where you currently live? A favorite vacation spot or somewhere sentimental? A destination?
Think about which location would be most accommodating to you and your guests. Will many of your guests need to travel? Where will everyone stay? These are all questions to consider before choosing a venue. Once you narrow this search down you can start looking at different options in that specific area.
Figure Out Your Wedding Budget
It's important to keep your overall wedding budget in mind when you choose a wedding venue. “In the U.S., couples spend an average of $5,400 on their venue alone, with most couples spending between $2,700 and $10,500—not a small amount by any stretch. How much you’ll spend on your venue really depends on where you’re planning on marrying—renting a venue in a major city will likely cost more than one in a more rural area,” according to Wedding Wire.
Know Your Estimated Guest Count
Another important factor on how to choose a wedding venue is knowing your estimated guest count before looking at any spaces. Every wedding venue has a certain capacity, and while you don’t need to know the exact number of guests you're inviting when booking your venue, you need to have an idea.
We recommend finding a space that can hold as many people as you invite. Although, it’s not likely everyone will RSVP “yes,” what if they do? The last thing you want to do is uninvite guests or have to change your space last minute since guest capacity typically isn’t flexible. So before you fall in love with your dream wedding venue, think about your guest list to see if it can hold all of the people you want celebrating with you.
Consider What is Included in the Venue Rental
Many venues may include tables, chairs, lighting and other things that could be cost effective and easier for your planning process. Although the payment may seem like a lot upfront, it could help you in the end. However, we do recommend comparing rental company prices before booking a venue just because of what they include.
Some wedding venues may have exclusive contracts with certain vendors like caterers. This means that you have to use them, and their rates may be included with the venue fee making the rental a bit pricier.
Some venues are full service, while others let you bring in any vendor you’d like to use. Either way, be sure to price everything out beforehand so you know what works best for your budget. TIP: Remember to include tax and gratuity (if working with an exclusive caterer) when pricing everything out!
Visit Your Favorite Wedding Venues
A picture can only show you so much, so we recommend visiting your favorite wedding venues prior to choosing one. These in person visits are important because. you’ll be able to see the space in person, meet the venue coordinator, ask all of your questions and envision what your big day will look like! If possible, bring your wedding planner along to these visits. They can really help you see the space in a different way if you’re having trouble and can jump in if you’re stuck on what questions to ask.
We know Mom and Dad, or your new in-laws, may want to visit every wedding venue in town before making a final decision, but we recommend trying to narrow down the ones you visit to your favorites in order to reduce stress and the chances of becoming overwhelmed.
Keep Your Vision in Mind When You Choose a Wedding Venue
The most important thing when choosing your wedding venue is to keep your vision in mind and to stay true to yourself. Don’t rush the process. If your dream is to get married in a barn, then do so!! We know how overwhelming Pinterest and new trends can be, but it’s important to choose a space that feels authentic to you two as a couple.
Narrow Down a Few Dates
While most of the time the date can be pretty flexible, you do want to have a few dates, or at least a specific month in mind prior to choosing a wedding venue. Consider all of your options, but try not to make your selection too broad.
Find a date that works best for you, your partner, close family and wedding party. The rest of your guests will either make it work or they won’t.
When you choose a wedding venue it means you have officially “set the date”, now it’s really time to start planning!