Choosing a wedding venue is arguably the most difficult and potentially time consuming part of your wedding journey. Many factors have to be considered including number of guests, location, food options, cost etc. It can be very difficult to keep track of so many things! If you’re lucky, now is when you can cue the Wedding Coordinator who will magically do everything for you – but, if you don’t have money or time for such things, or just want to do everything yourself, here is a checklist you can use to make sure you’re not forgetting anything important.
COST: What is your budget for your wedding? Look online and at various wedding websites, go to Bridal Expos (whole events dedicated to showing you all your options as a bride), or ask around to see what venues are available to you. Then call and ask what the prices are to rent the venue itself and for the food. Some places will not allow you to have external caterers and you must use in-house or a specified list of vendors that they work with. There will also be extra cost for alcohol – usually per person. Make sure you are emailed a full list of details on each venue so that you can compare and see which one is the best for you. Most packages are set up to be personalized so you can add or take out options to fit your budget.
LOCATION: What type of place do you want to have your ceremony in? Do you want an indoor ceremony or outdoor one? Do you want to have the ceremony and reception in the same location or in a separate one? You can be wed in nature (on the beach, on the mountainside, lakeside, in a park, etc.) or you can be indoors (in a hotel, in a restaurant, in a customized loft space, inside a historical building, etc.) Don’t forget to think about how far your guests will have to travel and if any of your guests will have accessibility issues. Also, don’t forget to factor in the weather and season you are getting married. It’s not easy to predict what the exact weather will be, but if you happen to start your planning a year early, try to see the venue at the same time the year before to get a feel for what weather you’ll have.
GUESTS: Can your venue fit the number of guests you have? Do you have too few guests to fill the room? You don’t want people standing outside the door, but you also want to be mindful of having a lot of empty or dead space in a room when you’re going for a cozy, smallish affair. Will your guests have transportation from the ceremony to the reception to the hotel? Are all of your guests local and you don’t need to worry? Make sure you don’t make it difficult for people to get from place to place. Out of town guests will be especially vulnerable if you don’t set up transportation properly.
- It’s best too look for venues after you have finished your general guest list. You should have an idea of about how many people, give or take 10 guests, you’re planning on having. You may not have an RSVP list yet, but you should be able to at least count in family and close friends to have a minimum number.
- Make a list of important things you MUST HAVE at your wedding – the date you’ve set (a lot of venues book a year or so in advance, especially the popular ones), the ability to have the look or theme that you want, DJ booth/speakers if you’re having music, etc. When you prioritize you can more easily figure out what is flexible and what isn’t when you’re negotiating.
- Always get EVERYTHING in WRITING. Price, date, name of person helping you or whatever else should always be given to you in writing or don’t be surprised if something goes wrong (like your date gets given to someone else.) There are also a lot of legal matters that need to be taken care of such as insurance for guests and the venue. Make sure to read the fine print so that you’re not liable if something happens to go wrong. That also goes for cancellation policies. You never know what can or might happen – horrible weather, a fire, flooding – and you want to be prepared and not lose your money!
Finding the perfect spot is definitely stressful, but you can breathe a huge sigh of relief when you’ve signed the final paperwork. Once you’ve set the location, everything else will fall into place. Afterwards, you can contact us to check off the next item on your list – which is custom invitations to match your beautiful wedding theme!
Photo 1 Credit: Unknown
Photo 2 Credit: Henderson Park Inn
Photo 3 Credit: Nearpictures.com