Expert-Approved Tips for Narrowing Down Your Wedding Venue Options
There are a lot of beautiful spots to say "I do," so how to you find the right one for you and your soon-to-be spouse? We can help.
With so many incredible wedding venue choices out there, it's tough to decide which space will be the perfect fit for your big day. To avoid becoming the couple that spends months visiting venue after venue, we have some tips for narrowing down your options before you even see them in person.
Before you even start looking at potential venues online, make a draft of your budget to get a realistic idea of what you can spend on your day as whole; then, break out those numbers by category, including venue, catering, photography, flowers, music, and more. "The number one priority when looking into a venue should be budget," BillieJo, a planner with Michelle Leo Events, says, "When signing a contract, you'll want to look over the third-party vendor fee. This is something that can add more expenses to your overall budget and tends to be a big topic we discuss with clients when picking a venue."
You can research venues and get an idea of the packages they may offer on their websites. If you can't find the information you're looking for, it's worth sending their manager an email. When they know you may be interested in considering booking them, they'll send over a marketing packet with all the details. Create a spreadsheet to track the venues you're interested in, what they provide, what you'll need to provide separately, and estimated costs. Having these details in one place will make it easier to compare venues and narrow down your search. It will also help you know what questions to ask when you go to see the location in person.
Talk with your fiancé about whether you want an all-inclusive venue or one where you'll get to choose vendors a-la-carte. The all-inclusive route may or may not save you money, but it most certainly will save you some stress that comes along with decision making and coordinating many different vendors. With that being said, you may be stuck with the venue's DJ, day-of-coordinator, or catering, so talk with your venue about what's included and what aspects you can opt out of.
Also, consider whether the venue is convenient for your guests to get to. If there will be a lot of people traveling to spend your wedding day with you, you'll want to make sure there will be hotels nearby and plenty of parking.
Ask yourself whether or not the venue fits the general theme or vibe you're going for on your wedding day. This may require a site visit, as it's hard to get a feel for the flow of the ceremony space, cocktail hour space, and reception space from pictures online. For example, if your vision is to have a tented reception, you're not going to end up choosing a ballroom venue. Think about the type of party you want to create and look for venues that suit that aesthetic.
Make sure the venue has availability during the weekends you're most interested in. You can check online calendars for availability or simply email and ask. Also, consider whether there are any restrictions that may be a dealbreaker for you, like having to end the event at a specific time because of noise ordinance laws. If you're set on an outdoor ceremony, make sure the venue offers a space that will accommodate the number of guests you'll have. If you want your reception outside, too, you'll want to have a plan B to get guests indoors if the weather doesn't go your way. Think through the flow of the day and choose a venue that leaves you as worry-free as possible!