There are a lot of moving parts that go into your perfect day- dress, colors, food, cake, guest list, etc. But the one that seems to stand out the most is the venue. In 2022, almost everything about your wedding is optional- except you will need to pick where you get married. Here is how to pick the perfect wedding venue that suits all your needs.
The Essentials For How To Pick A Wedding Venue
Think About Guest List
One of the most important things to consider when you are looking for your perfect wedding venue is how large you want your wedding to be.
I would suggest having a rough guest list in advance of visiting your potential venue because you can always accommodate for less guests, but it can be really difficult to add more people than you originally planned for. Here are 8 free sites to use to build your wedding guest list.
You and your fiancé should go through together and make a guest list so you know exactly what size space you need.
Some would say this is the most important factor in picking a perfect wedding venue, but realistically it all depends on what you spend on other factors for your wedding. If you spend less on your dress, you might be willing to spend more on your venue or vice versa!
Just be realistic with your budget and a rough idea for other costs for your wedding. Some venues book from 12-18 months in advance, so it’s important to book ahead.
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Sometimes emergencies happen. Your special day may have to get pushed back due to a family emergency, blizzard, fire, hurricane, tornado, or literally anything else. While I hope all goes as planned for your wedding, when you’re spending money on a perfect wedding venue you need to plan for the worst. Most weddings cost as much as a car, would you get a car and not insure it? We have a whole post dedicated to wedding venue deposits.
You might be getting married in your hometown or you might have a destination wedding in Italy. No matter where you choose to go, some guests will most likely be travelling to attend your wedding. Having accommodations nearby will be easy for guests from out of town to stay near your venue and not travel far between your venue and where they are staying. To make sure your perfect wedding venue is a fit for both you and your guests, make sure they have options for places to stay near the venue.
Things To Consider When Touring A Wedding Venue
Talk to a Wedding Planner
How to pick a wedding venue? Ask a wedding planner! A wedding planner who knows your budget, amount of guests, and your vibe can see the real potential of a venue that you might not see. Even the shabbiest of wedding venues can look chic with the right décor, and a wedding planner can help show you that everything is in the details.
You don’t have to spend an arm and a leg to get the perfect wedding venue. The wedding planner can also take the hassle out of booking venue showings and may have knowledge of venues you haven’t seen. If a wedding planner is in your budget, they can definitely help the venue search and take away some stress from planning your perfect wedding. Can’t afford a wedding planner? We have a guide for wedding planning to check out.
Know Your Aesthetic
I would definitely recommend having a Pinterest board of the color scheme and vibe you want to go with for your wedding. When looking at venues, you can picture which place fits the best for the look you are going for. If you have no idea what you want when looking at venues you can start to feel a little lost about what you truly want. Spend some time on Pinterest and put together something that you and your fiancé both like so that you have a clearer idea of what your perfect wedding venue looks like.
Some wedding venues include packages which can help reduce overall costs. Full service packages include catering, bar, and staffing. Be sure to ask about food and beverage minimums (such as cash bar or open bar), site fees, and other components of your package you will get billed for.
Some popular venues book from 12 to 18 months in advance. If you are attached to a certain date or season, I would recommend looking at venues right away. If you aren’t getting married for more than a year, you have more flexibility in what venues work for you. Late summer and early fall tend to be the most popular times to have a wedding, so most venues tend to book those seasons first. If you found your perfect wedding venue, get on booking it as soon as possible!
Indoor vs Outdoor
While you may want an outdoor venue, like I said earlier it’s important to plan for worst case scenarios. Do they have tents to put up if it rains or snows? Is there an indoor structure on location that the wedding could be moved to just in case?
Whether you want an indoor or outdoor venue, just make sure you are planning in case these issues pop up. Your perfect wedding venue should have a plan in case the weather decides not to agree with you that day. Here are just a few concerns about outdoor wedding venues, and how to pick a wedding venue that plans for potential issues- making it stress free to plan for the unpredictable!
The last thing you want at your perfect wedding venue is a wedding crasher. If you are getting married at a country club, will there be members playing on hole 10 directly behind your ceremony? Are you getting married on a public beach? These are things to consider which could make or break which venue you decide to book.
Additionally, some venues will book multiple weddings for one day so just be sure to ask how much of the place you will have for yourself and your guests. Some venues charge more to be able to have the entire location to yourself.
Although it is your day, you want to be sure your guests attend and enjoy themselves. Your grandmother and grandfather might struggle to walk in the sand on the beach, let alone a wheelchair. If you have people in your family who are disabled, make sure your venue is ADA compliant and consider entrances & exits, elevators, bathrooms, parking, and seating. A key factor in how to pick a perfect wedding venue is making sure your guests are comfortable. Here is a guide on how to pick a wedding venue that is accessible to people with disabilities.
Seems pretty obvious but make sure you have a place to use the restroom at your wedding. Your perfect wedding venue may not be functional if it only has one restroom (or no restroom at all). Some locations, such as the beach or a barn, might not come with a bathroom and will require that you rent portable toilets for the day.
While handicap parking spots are important for accessibility, your perfect wedding venue should also have enough parking for all of your guests. This might be more difficult in a city, so a venue with a spacious parking lot is definitely a bonus.
While you’re snooping around your potential venue, take notice of all the parking options. Is there a lot? Garage? Street parking? How far is the parking from the venue?
Something a lot of people do not consider is local guidelines at the wedding venue. Some towns have curfews and noise ordinances which could be important to you depending on the details of your day. If your reception goes late into the night, ask your wedding venue how to continue into the evening with an after party. Venues may also have their own rules about noise, especially outdoor, in consideration of their neighbors.
Some venues come with a dance floor and some you may have to pay extra for. If your idea of a perfect wedding venue includes a dance floor, ask if it is included in your contract or if you will have to pay extra. These little details can end up costing you more money, so if you know everything you want while touring you can truly see what venue can accommodate you best and for the best value.
A super popular option for weddings is having fireworks. Sometimes local guidelines do not allow for fireworks and sometimes venues straight up don’t allow them either. If having fireworks is a requirement for your perfect wedding venue, definitely ask about it when you are touring.
Another debate that you and your fiancé need to have is whether you want live music or a DJ. If you want live music, this is another thing you need to check with the venue. Some venues have a sound limit or just do not allow for live music. Some couples are determined to have live music, so if that sounds like you might want to consider running by the venue while you are still touring!
Read reviews of your potential venue on Yelp! If someone had a terrible experience, you can bet someone posted it. If they have an Instagram account, look at their tagged photos and see how their photos of the space look. You can see what they did with the space, how well it photographs, and get some wedding inspo.
Ceremony Versus Reception
Some couples choose to have a separate location for the reception than the ceremony. Especially if you are considering a church ceremony, you will need a seperate venue for your reception. Or you might have a separate guest list for the ceremony than the reception, which would be better to have two separate venues.
Having two separate venues is completely optional, but just something to think about especially if you are between two you love! Here are some tips about picking two separate venues.
If you have a lot of family or friends coming from out of town, consider how far your perfect wedding venue is from the airport, train station, bus station, etc. If you have a lot of family flying and the closest airport is two hours away, maybe you will consider searching closer to the airport.
Lastly, I forgot to mention the feeling you get when you see the venue. Sometimes you immediately know this is your perfect wedding venue. Sometimes you have a favorite but you might hesitate to book because you want to be sure. Trust your gut! This is your day and it should revolve around what you and your partner want.