Your wedding venue is often one of the most important decisions a you can make when beginning to plan your wedding. Aside from saying ‘I do’, your venue is where you’ll host your guests, walk down the aisle, eat dinner, dance, and take a majority of your photos. It’s important to choose a spot that’s right for both of you.
Before checking out venues, it’s important to know your date, guest count, and what style you’re going for – formal, outdoors, sit down meal, or cocktail party. Once you have these details ironed out as best as possible, you can now begin contacting venues and scheduling site visits.
While visiting venues may be a bit overwhelming, in the end you’ll have to follow your gut. Chances are you’ll know in your heart that the place is the one for you, but let us help you with this wedding venue checklist to help you find “the one”.
1. You can visualize your wedding here
Close your eyes and seriously think about walking down the aisle, having your first dance, and eating dinner here. Does it check off all the boxes? Think about your pictures too – is the setting right? If you can’t picture it, ask the venue manager for a general walk-through of what most ceremonies do at the venue and see if that helps. If not, pass!
2. It will fit your guest count
This is important because while a venue can be too small, it can also be too big. If you find a huge space but don’t have enough guests, the venue may not be the right place for you. Feeling cozy can sometimes be better than feeling empty. Also, ask them what the fit comfortably, not just their maximum guest count. Discuss the guest count and what it’ll take to make it feel just right.
3. You know all the costs and it still fits your budget
A lot of the time, a venue rental is just one number on the list of costs for a venue. Ask the venue manager to give you a full estimate of what your big day will cost, including rentals, food, staffing, insurance, and anything else they foresee. If it fits in your budget, awesome! If not, then maybe do some number crunching to see if it’s worth cutting from other spending to make your dream venue work.
4. Does it have a rain backup plan?
Make sure the venue has a plan B for if it rains. If you have to rent a tent as a back-up, ask about costing and factor it into your pricing.
5. Catering is what you want
If you’re bringing in your own caterer, ask about fees for doing so and ensure the venue has the proper facilities for the catering company to set-up, such as food warmers. If not, you may have to rent those as well. If the venue offers catering, ask for a tasting and pricing. If they have preferred vendors, don’t be afraid to ask for rough estimates for those as well.
6. Can you decorate it?
Some brides want to DIY décor and rentals, while some really want a one-stop shop. If your venue is a place where you need to fully rent tables, linens, etc., then make sure it’s something you feel confident and happy taking on. If not, maybe it’s worth finding a venue that has a bit more to offer. Vice versa for brides who love DIY!
7. Location, location, location
Think about your location and where your guests will stay and park their cars. Are there a lot of hotels close by? Is there a bit of a drive? Is there parking available? All of these things are important to consider because it will impact the flow and planning of your wedding.
8. Photo opportunities
Whether you’re doing a first look or taking pictures right after your ceremony, you may only have an hour to two hours to get pictures taken before the reception. It’s helpful to consider where at your venue you can take pictures and if you want to travel somewhere to take them, the time it’ll take to do so.
9. Do they have only one wedding that day?
Some venues unfortunately try to jam pack weddings and ceremonies on the same day. It’s an important question to ask – Will we have to share the space? If so, ask how that’ll look and decide if it’s something you’re willing to do.
Some venues come with a day of coordinator while others don’t. A day of coordinator ensures your day runs as smoothly as possible and is an invaluable resource. If the venue offers it, you’re in the clear but if it doesn’t, you may want to consider hiring one if it’s in your budget or choosing a venue that has one included.
Considering your big day and how both you and your guests will feel at your venue, chances are you’ll have a general feeling of bliss once you’ve found the right spot. If you feel good about it – book it! If you have reservations, ask for a second viewing, call references, check reviews, and tour a few other spots.
Written By Brad Dalli from Dalli Digital