It's important to ensure your venue can accomodate the size of your guest list, the vision you have for your big day, and your budget.
couple kissing on church steps after wedding

Choosing your wedding venue is arguably the most important decision of the entire planning process—this space often dictates the date, size, and aesthetic of your celebration. That's why the search for your perfect wedding venue requires lots of careful planning and thought. To help you say "I do" to your ideal ceremony and reception space, we asked big-day pros to share the questions they want their own clients to ask themselves before touring any potential venues.

How much can we afford to spend on a venue?

Heather Jones of Wente Vineyards says you should always determine your overall budget, which will give you an idea of how much you can afford to spend on a venue, before you start visiting properties. Otherwise, you may see a space you love that's more money than you can realistically afford and you'll either have to walk away or try to make the numbers work.

The problem with the latter course of action? "That means less money for your food, beverage, and décor, and you may ultimately find yourself cutting corners everywhere else," Jones says.

What is our ideal wedding date?

It's best to start your venue search with some idea of when you'd like to get married, Jones says. "However, unless you're set on a concrete date—such as an anniversary, birthday, etc.—we recommend that you have a general month or multiple dates in mind in the event that your venue is booked on the specific date you've chosen," she says. "Don't let availability deter you from your dream venue! Better yet, opting for a nontraditional wedding date, such as a Friday or Sunday, can even save you money on the overall package."

What are our priorities?

Wedding planning will be so much easier if you first consider how you want your big day to unfold. "Before I take my clients on a site visit to any venue, I need to know everything I can about [their] wishes and vision," Oleta Collins of Flourishing Art says. This helps her understand if they are going to need to consider extra power for lights and a photo booth or if there's enough room for their lounge space.

Even if you're not working with a wedding planner, this is a worthwhile exercise: Ask yourself what your priorities are. Is it having an amazing party? Then you will want a wedding venue with a beautiful, spacious dance floor and one that will allow you to choose your own band or DJ instead of working with a preferred vendor list. "Many couples have booked venues only to realize after the fact that they have to use the in-house DJ or there's an extremely high plug-in fee," says Michael Coombs of Michael Coombs Entertainment.

Is this space large enough to accommodate all of our guests?

Carrie Darling of Carrie Darling Events says you should have an idea of what your guest count will be so that you know the space will fit your needs before you go. "It is hard to fall in love with one possibility, only to find it is not an option!" she says.

Are pets allowed?

Are you considering having your four-legged friend participate in your wedding day? If so, you will want to make sure your venue will allow it. "Too often, I see couples assume that they can bring their pet onsite," says Veronica Silva of Pawfect for You. "Unfortunately, many venues, and even other vendors, have specific policies around pet presence."

Ask each venue if it allows animals, as well as what the rules are around having pets on the premises. If they're only allowed outside, Silva says you can run into problems if it rains or if it's extremely hot. "A venue with air conditioning in the bridal suite or an open-air cocktail hour may be more desirable," she says.


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