Finding the venue that's right for you doesn't always come with an "aha" moment.
Island Farm Private Estate in San Gregorio, California

There's a common theory among engaged couples that suggests you'll just know when you've found "the perfect venue." Sound familiar? And yet, for many couples, this moment never hits during site visits. Sure, some places are particularly beautiful or ideal because they work with your top priorities, but will you ever find a perfect venue, or one that checks every single one of your big-day must haves? Maybe. But more likely, you'll end up selecting the venue that's simply the best of the available options. Every venue has its limitations and there may be some compromises you need to make in the process, but if you keep your priorities in mind, you'll feel confident and optimistic about your choice.

In order to determine your venue priorities, decide what you're willing to compromise on, and settle on the right space for your wedding, you'll first need to answer the following questions. One of the best ways to go about venue searching is to have honest conversations as a couple, before you start doing site visits, to decide which of these factors rank highest on your list. What are you willing to be flexible about, and what are your deal breakers?

Here's a list to get those conversations started and to help you through your venue tours.

  • Can you envision a wedding in the space? What does that look like? Is the aesthetic on par with what you'd like your wedding to feel like, or will you need to bring in a lot of décor to make it your style?
  • Is the location what you're looking for? Are hotels nearby or within a reasonable distance for shuttles? Are there things for guests to do in the area if you're having a multi-day celebration?
  • What's the cut-off time? How strict is this policy?
  • Are there any noise restrictions? If so, how will this work with the speeches and dancing?
  • What are the size restrictions? Will we need to bring in additional tenting or furniture to accommodate a too-small or too-large group?
  • Will the staff be easy to work with? Is there a venue manager who doubles as an event coordinator, or will you need to hire a coordinator or planner separately?
  • Can you bring in your own vendors? What about catering?
  • Is there a Plan B for a rainy day? What does that look like and when do you need to make a call on plan B?
  • What's the deal with parking and transportation?
  • Is the contract reasonable? Are you comfortable with the cancellation policy and are all fees transparent?
  • Is the venue within budget? Will the things you need to bring in add a lot to the budget (i.e. restrooms, tents, furniture, tabletop décor, etc.)?

In nearly all of these details, there are ways to compromise and work with a venue if you absolutely love it. Be candid with your partner about your venue deal breakers, talk through the things you can and can't change, and make your decision accordingly.


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