Once you start planning your wedding, and you make a big ‘ol to-do list, one of the first things at the top is probably finding a venue. You need a place to host your wedding day - a place where all the people you love will gather to watch you say “I do,” and celebrate with you afterwards.
Needless to say, the venue is pretty important!
This guide will tell you all about how to choose a wedding venue - things to think about, and how to make sure it truly is the perfect venue for you.
What to Look for in a Wedding Venue
As you begin your search, here are a few things to consider when it comes to how to choose a wedding venue:
One of the first things - and one of the most important - is the way the venue looks. You want the place where you get married to feel right for you, and that starts with the backdrop you’ll have when you get married. Before you even start looking for wedding venues, it can be helpful to brainstorm a little, and figure out what kind of venue you’re in the market for.
A wedding at a downtown hotel is going to look really different from an outdoor wedding on a farm in the countryside, so talk to your partner about what you envision for your wedding day. Start with the big picture - do you want to get married outside, or indoors? Are you imagining an elegant, upscale wedding; a cozy, rustic one; a modern, boho vibe? Close your eyes and picture your dream day - what does it look like?
It’s also a good idea to look at some examples of wedding photos - see which ones you’re drawn to, which backdrops you like, and which wedding venues are visually appealing to you.
There are lots of different styles of wedding venues, and it’s totally okay if you don’t have a word to describe what you’re looking for right now - just see which venues you like the look of, then maybe figure out what kind of venue it is so that you can start looking for similar locations. Here are just a few examples of types of wedding venues:
Farm/barn | Industrial | Hotel | Banquet Hall | Country Club (golf courses are popular for weddings) | Park/garden | Mansion/estate
Another big factor in choosing a wedding venue is the size of it. Of course, if you’re planning a big 300 person wedding, you can eliminate smaller venues right away, and if you’re thinking of a day that’s more intimate, you might not need to look at huge ballrooms. Because of this, it’s definitely helpful to make a guest list - or at least a rough draft of one - and figure out how many people you plan to invite to your wedding before you start looking for wedding venues.
Some venues offer an all inclusive option, where all the vendors are included - and while this may seem convenient, it also means that you don’t have much of a choice in who you hire for your wedding. Other venues have certain requirements for which vendors they work with, for example, they might have an in house caterer and not allow outside catering at the venue.
If you find a wedding venue that you like, make sure to check on this! Decide if you’re okay with what they require when it comes to vendors - do they allow you to hire outside vendors?
One thing that can vary amongst venues is their rule about liquor. If you want alcohol at your wedding, you’ll need to make sure that the venue has a liquor license, and it’s a good idea to ask for clarification before you book the venue. Some places are stricter about hard liquor, or alcoholic beverages may be allowed indoors but not outside, and there are sometimes constraints that couples don’t even realize - so always ask your venue about details!
When it comes to how to choose a wedding venue, there are also some logistics to think about, like what time you can book the venue. You’ll usually have a time constraint - a time in the evening where you need to be out of there. So, before you make any bookings, make sure that the times work for you. Make sure that there aren’t any noise ordinances or venue regulations that mean your party will be over too early for your liking.
If you’ve found a beautiful venue, you also need to make sure that it has everything you need! Some things to think about include kitchens (does your catering team need somewhere to cook?), washrooms (are there enough for your guests, are they accessible for people who may have mobility limitations?), and parking (are there enough spots for your guests, and if not, does the venue have a shuttle?).
How to Choose a Wedding Venue
Now that you know what to look for, here are the steps to actually finding a venue and booking the perfect one!
Look for Wedding Venues
The first thing you’ll need to do is actually look for wedding venues. Once you decide where you want to get married, start your search! Pinterest and Instagram can be good places to look - you can use search terms or hashtags to find wedding venues in the area you’re looking for. Or, if there’s a wedding vendor that’s local, you can look at their social media and see what venues they’ve worked at - they’ll often be tagged!
Another way to look for wedding venues is with directory sites, like WeddingWire, which offer an easy way to browse different venues, and filter your search. You can filter by style, size, price, and more, which really helps narrow it down!
Send Out Inquiries
It’s totally okay to inquire with a few different wedding venues - you don’t have to commit right away. Once you’ve found wedding venues that seem like a good fit, shoot them an email. You’ll find out if they’re available, what their pricing looks like, and you’ll usually talk with a coordinator who can answer any questions that you have. This will really help you see if the venue is right for you!
Schedule a Tour
If possible, it’s always a good idea to see the venue before you make any bookings. Pictures can show you what the wedding venue looks like, but things are always different in person, and seeing it for yourself is the best way to figure out if it’s your dream venue. A lot of venues have open house dates, or you can schedule a tour - and if seeing it in person isn’t possible, many venues offer virtual tours!
Book Your Dream Wedding Venue
Once you’ve found your dream wedding venue, it’s time to make the booking. You’ll have a contract to sign and a deposit to pay, and then you’re set! Now, it’s time to find the rest of your vendors - and the next thing on most couple’s to-do list is finding a photographer, so if you’re ready to find someone to document your day and capture that beautiful venue, contact me!