How to Pick a Wedding Venue
Picking a wedding venue can be the most exciting time and also one of the hardest decisions in a wedding. Maybe you feel like you have a general idea of what you want your day to be like, or maybe you know exactly, but you aren’t quite sure how to go about finding what makes a perfect fit for your day. Here’s a list of things to consider when choosing your venue, questions to ask, as well as a tip of how to keep it all organized.
#1. When are they available? / When to book.
Depending on when you want your wedding, it’s important to reach out as soon as you’re ready to plan because venues book up quick. Most venues book anywhere from 1-2 years out. Don’t let that scare you though! Always reach out to see if there was a last minute opening or if it’s during slow season. (Slow season here in Iowa is around November-March)
#2. Your style and vision.
When picking a venue remember your style and vision for your day. You don’t have to try to make something work you don’t feel is a good fit for you. You can read all about how to find your perfect style here. If you’re going for more of a rustic theme, it wouldn’t make sense to book a modern, upscale venue. Choose and look at what feels most like you.
Always keep your budget in mind when looking at a venue. If you’re in love with a venue that’s WAY out of your budget, sit down and write out what you love about that venue the most and look for others with similar aspects or styles. Budgeting it tough, especially when it’s for your wedding. It’s important to figure out what is most important to you on your day and allocate the budget to those things. There is a blog post here with a few tips on how to save money on your wedding.
#4. Do you want the ceremony and reception at the same place?
Some venues have space/floor plans for having the ceremony and reception in the same building. Some even have outdoor and indoor spaces. If you’d like to get married in a church or your backyard but have a bigger place to celebrate, just look at places to host your reception. Decide whether or not you’d like to have them both at the same location.
#5. Backup Plan.
Speaking of outdoor ceremonies, make sure your venue has a backup plan incase of bad weather. Most venues will have an option of indoor ceremony layouts and reception. If your venue doesn’t have a separate ceremony and reception area, room flips are usually done and can happen while your guests are having cocktail hour after the ceremony. Always make sure you have a backup plan, just in case!
Check and see when the venues curfew is. If you’re allowed to set up the day before or if that’s an extra cost. If you’ll have to stop the party by 11:00 to make sure you have things packed up by midnight or sooner. This will help you plan out your timeline for your wedding day to know when the party needs to start winding down.
#7. Number of Guests.
Find out how many guests your venue allows. With some venues that have outdoor spaces more guests are allowed to hang outside. When we got married our venue had a cap on the ceremony space so we ended up having a smaller ceremony and opened up the reception to more guests. Find out what works best for what you want and go from there.
#8. Packages? Caterer, Bar, etc.
Does the venues have packages or add ons? Check to see if your venue has bar staff, alcohol, packages with caterers or florists. Some venues work with other vendors or have inside hires that you can add to your wedding day for lesser cost.
#9. Read Reviews and Ask Around.
Read reviews on your venue (this goes for any vendor as well). You can find reviews on Google, Facebook, Instagram, The Knot, etc. Make sure you read up on what others have experienced. Also don’t be scared to reach out to vendors who you know have worked there (you can look up the venue on Facebook/Instagram and see if the venue has tagged any vendors or on their tagged photos) and ask them about their experience there.
How to Put It All Together.
Start a spreadsheet in excel or Google Docs and document everything you find! This is an easy way to compare all the information from all the venues you’re looking at in one easy place.
Out of Town Guest Stays
Website (so you can compare photos + info)
Extras (table cloths, sound system, etc.)