What should I look for in my wedding venue tour?

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There are a lot of emotions that wash over you when you visit a wedding venue. Awe. Satisfied. That sweet feeling of finding the “one.” This is the backdrop for your wedding day, after all. This is also a decision that shouldn’t be dictated solely by emotion.

Your wedding venue is more than a beautiful backdrop. It’s also a logistical and practical investment that both you and your guests appreciate. No one wants to be trekking for miles because there’s no nearby parking in their best shoes. Or cramped because the venue isn’t big enough to hold all the guests that were invited. Your attendants certainly don’t want to be locking their valuables in the trunk or changing in their car. The list of wedding venue faux pas can go on and on…which is why it makes cents (literally) to pay attention to more than just aesthetics during your wedding venue tour.

Space

Like the old fairy tale, the right wedding venue is not too big and not too small. For that reason, come up with a tentative guest list count (use these wedding guest list tips) before you contact a wedding venue. Ask every wedding venue how many guests they can accommodate and make sure that every space in the venue (i.e. bar, dance floor, foyer) looks like just the right size.

Rooms

Just as important as adequate wedding venue square footage is the right wedding spaces. Ask your wedding venue about rooms you need for your big day, such as a dance floor, (large) room for changing, a secure area for your belongings, catering space, and restrooms (yes, for your guests’ sake, you even have to visit the restrooms).

Ceremony site

If you need a wedding ceremony site, look for the perfect location for that as well. Use one note of caution, however; if the wedding ceremony site is outside, look for a indoor Plan B site just in case there is inclement weather (or extreme temperatures) on your big day (this is Wisconsin, our temps can be unpredictable!).

Photo opportunities

bride and groom on steps of elegant historic wedding venueYou don’t have to be a pro to look for unique wedding photo opportunities. Keep an eye out for areas that would look terrific in your wedding album—but still give your wedding photographer the liberty to find (and take!) great photos. Look around for unique architectural details, such as stained glass windows, beautiful doorways, and a unique entrance.

Parking (please!)

While you can get dropped off on your big day, not all your guests have that same option. Ask to see the venue’s options for parking—and make sure that it is as close as the staff member says. “Yes, it’s just around the corner” just won’t cut it. Once you have verified parking, make sure that it’s not going to cost your guests an arm and a leg. If there is a small fee, let your guests know by adding the information to your wedding invite and website.

Entertainment Needs

If you want your wedding entertainment to be a big hit, make sure the venue has the electrical system that fits your band or DJ’s needs (and any uplighting they offer). You might feel like you don’t have the expertise even if you did see the outlets or electrical panel; in that case, ask the venue staff if they have had bands, DJs, and lighting at the venue in the past.

Access (for everyone)

Many wedding venues were built in a time or for a function (such as barns) that didn’t suit the needs of people with mobility issues. Ask if the wedding venue is handicap accessible (especially if there are a lot of stairs) and if you can see the alternative entrances. This simple step ensures that all of your guests can attend and enjoy themselves or if you need to make arrangements that can assist those guests. ALL of your guests’ll appreciate your due diligence.

7 Things to Know BEFORE You Contact a Wedding Venue

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wedding venue with dramatic backlighting and candlesTime is of the essence when you’re searching for the right wedding venue for a lot of reasons. Obviously, you want to book the right wedding venue (before it’s reserved!). Choosing your wedding venue is also the first of a series of wedding planning decisions—and one that you don’t want to spend a lot of time on (after all, you have a lot more to do on your wedding planning checklist!).

To get started (and finished) with this important first step of wedding planning(without touring a million different venues), sit down with your fiancé and make these major decisions BEFORE you start browsing websites and sending social media messages.

Location

To be clear, you don’t have to nail down exact location and numbers (i.e. date, guest count, etc.), but you should have an idea of where you want to hold your big day (a general idea of a city or town). If you have already reserved a ceremony site, find a wedding reception venue nearby; your guests don’t want to have to make a several hour (or even hour) drive to get from your ceremony to reception.

Your style

Every part of your wedding should reflect who you are as a couple, including your wedding venue. Once you’ve decided on the area you want to have your wedding in, think about what style wedding venue screams you. If you want to have a vintage wedding, a wedding venue with historic details can be the perfect backdrop for your wedding décor. For a couple who loves the country, look for a rustic barn. Want an elegant wedding? Search for venues with the architectural details that’ll make an impression on your guests.

Date (or month)

Again, you don’t have to nail down an exact date, but it would be helpful to have an idea of the time of year or month of your wedding. If you have your heart set on a particular wedding venue, ask for a list of dates available during the time of year or month of your wedding. But if you’re completely clueless about a wedding date, use these tips to choose the date of your wedding day.

Approximate guest count

There’ll be time later to make an exact guest list later, but almost every wedding vendor is going to ask for an estimated guest count. Don’t tackle crafting your wedding guest list alone, instead use these guest list tips to avoid hurt feelings from your fiancé and family.

Budget

A wedding budget is like a marathon. You don’t want to run out of energy at the end. When it comes to your wedding, you don’t want to have to skimp on important details because you ran out of funds. Use this template to create a wedding budget that you can stick to—and that gives you the amount you can spend on a wedding venue.

Once you have that amount, make sure you don’t go over the amount you have specified for the wedding venue. Don’t just ask for the rental fee; some venues charge overtime fees if the reception runs over a certain length of time and have additional costs that can push you over budget. Ask for the amount of the rental fee, how much time it covers, and what is included (i.e. tables, coat check staff, linens, etc.)

Wedding needs

If you have any special requests, ask them on your first phone call or message. You don’t want to cancel your reservation on a wedding venue and have to pay a cancellation fee. Add your special request to this list of wedding venue questions when you call or message them. Be wary of wedding venues that don’t respond promptly to your inquiries; if they don’t now, they may not get back to you later when you need information.

Any favorite vendors

An awesome caterer. A fantastic photographer. An over-the-top fabulous videographer. It’s normal to have a favorite wedding vendor that you want to include in your wedding day. Not every wedding venue allows any vendor into their facility; some venues only allow vendors from an approved list. If you have a favorite vendor that you absolutely want to include in your special day, don’t delay. Ask the wedding venue when you contact them, so you don’t spend your time touring a venue that you won’t consider later. When you do tour, ask questions from this list so you can make sure that wedding venue is the right one—and so you can move on to the next wedding planning step.

Red Flags to Watch for When Booking Your Wedding Venue

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elegant historic wedding venue

The road to confirming your wedding venue is a process. From asking the right wedding venue questions to touring the site, there are a lot of moments along the way that signify that this is the perfect site for your wedding day. On the flip side, there can also be a few red flags that should set off warning bells before you sign on the dotted line.

Overtime Fees

To be clear, there are usually many costs associated with renting a wedding venue, such as table and chair rental fees. This is fairly standard. What’s not common is additional costs, such as over time fees if your wedding reception runs over a certain length of time. When you first contact the venue, and in subsequent visits, ask for a full list of expenses and how long the rental fee covers.

Unreliable staff contacts

Booking a wedding venue is about more than just using the facility. It’s an experience with the wedding venue and venue staff. Most likely, you are going to have to contact the venue multiple times during the wedding planning process. If they don’t return your calls, respond to your messages, or promptly meet with you, listen to your inner voice. Don’t let your wedding planning process (or your wedding day!) be soured because the staff isn’t conscientious of your time.

Overwhelming Fine Print

Most wedding venues provide couples with a multi-page contract. Don’t shy away from the contract; reading the fine print can save you from unpleasant surprises later. However, if the contract is overly complicated and hard to understand, heed the warning bells. Never sign on the dotted line of a contract if you don’t understand what you’re signing or are worried about any language in the contract.

Lack of wedding experience

Proceed with caution if you rent a venue that doesn’t typically host weddings; the staff may not have the experience to assist you with planning and facility may not have all the spaces you need for your wedding day. There is some value in working with a venue with a knowledgeable staff that’s “been there”—especially if you need wedding planning assistance (many venues offer wedding planning-just ask!). Don’t check off a venue from your wedding venue checklist just because the site hosts weddings; instead embrace their knowledge and use it to make your day uniquely you.

How can I find the perfect wedding venue?

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bride and groom dancing at summer wedding reception in beautiful wedding venue

You’ve read all about how important a wedding venue is in wedding planning. You’re convinced. You’ve printed off the wedding venue checklist so you can find the right site for your wedding. Bring on the wedding venue tours.

But where do you start? How do you find the right wedding venue in your area?

Here’s where the wedding venue search doesn’t start

The search for the right wedding venue doesn’t start with calls to venues or getting out your calendar. Before you contact any venues, sit down with your fiancé, and any family or friends who are interested in investing in your big day. You’ll need to set these important points in stone for your wedding venue search:

  • Budget. What is your overall wedding budget? What is your budget for your wedding venue? Who is paying for what expense?
  • Date. You don’t have to the exact day and month to start your venue search, but you should have a general idea of the time of the year (use these tips to choose your perfect wedding date). For example, if you want a fall wedding, ask what dates are available for months of September and October.
  • Location. Consider what area suits your guests and you as a couple. Then take your planning a step further. Consider not only the geographical setting of your ceremony and distance to your reception site, but also the geography of your guests. If you have guests coming from out of town, consider a venue close to a hotel. If you’re having your ceremony and reception at the same place, consider the location of each event. Is there enough room for each? Will your guests need to wait for break down and set up? Visit your ideal venue to get your questions answered and a tour of the reception hall, ceremony site and dressing rooms.
  • Style. Do you want a rustic wedding? An elegant ball? A vintage wedding in a historic wedding venue with lot of architectural detail?
  • Guest list. Again, you don’t have to have the final guest list set in stone on your first day of planning, but you should have a general idea of your guest count. You’ll need this number to weed out venues that are too small (both for the safety and comfort of your guests).
  • Handicap accessibility. If you have a friend or family member that needs special accommodations, make sure you know this up front. Ask every venue if they are accessible for all your guests.

How to find the right wedding venue

  • Let your fingers do the walking. Use your favorite search engine to look for wedding venues that fit your criteria. Once you have a list, call or e-mail each wedding venue with this list of wedding venue questions. Ask the venue if they have your date available (or what dates are available during your chosen time of the year), how many guests they can accommodate, the cost (what is included and how long that covers), if there are any extra fees, and these other wedding venue questions. If you find your wedding venue on the internet, don’t skimp on your wedding venue tour. See the venue in person to make sure that the venue fits with what you saw on their website or social media.
  • Ask friends and family. Have a friend whose entire social calendar is weddings? Do you have a family member who always is headed to the next wedding? Ask them about wedding venues they’ve visited that really stood out. From there, narrow down your options by contacting the venues and finding out which venues fit your criteria.
  • Contact your favorite vendors. If you booked your videographer, DJ, band, or caterer already, ask them if they’ve worked at a venue (in your preferred style) that was really incredible. Remember, some venues require that you use a certain caterer. If you want to bring in your favorite caterer, ask the venue if they have an open vendor policy that allows you to bring in the caterer of your choice.

‘Must Have’ Wedding Vendors You Need to Book

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beautiful wedding venue for romantic weddingAfter all the wonderful feelings of your engagement wears off, it’s time to face the wedding planning list—and hold the necessary conversations you need to have with your family and fiance. Once you’ve decided on the location, budget, guest count (tips for crafting your guest list here), and date (or season-use these tips to choose the right wedding date), it’s time to go down the list of wedding vendors and start booking the wedding vendors you need for your big day.

Venue

Your wedding venue is a key part of wedding planning, so make sure you book “the one.” Once you’ve decided on your venue style (rustic, historic, elegant?), it’s time to start searching for the venue that checks off all the boxes on your wedding venue checklist. Ask each wedding venue these important questions (“Is my date/season available? How many people can you accommodate? What is the cost? What does it include? Do you allow caterers to come in?” and these other questions) before you tour the site—and never skip the tour. Contact the wedding venue to set up a tour; don’t rely entirely on the venue’s website or social media pictures. Use your venue tour to look for spaces you need on your wedding day, such as a welcoming foyer, mingling areas, handicap access, changing areas, and a beautiful area for your dinner and dance.

Ceremony Site

If you want to hold your ceremony at your wedding venue, ask your venue if they have an area available for ceremonies (and don’t visit venues that can’t accommodate you). If you prefer to hold your ceremony at another site, visit the site and make sure that it logistically makes sense. You don’t want your guests to go from one end of the earth for your ceremony, only to have to drive forever to get to your reception.

Wedding Planner

bride and groom on steps of elegant historic wedding venueOverwhelmed by all those wedding planning details? Hire a wedding planner to help you wade through all the decisions (or to make the decisions for you). If you don’t want to make another call, contact your wedding venue to see if they offer wedding planning services. You can also ask your friends or family for recommendations for a wedding planner.

Caterer

Wedding food is a key part of your guests’ experience, which is why choosing and hiring a caterer is toward the top of your wedding checklist. Your wedding venue may require you to use their caterer (if they have an open vendor policy, they don’t). If they don’t, ask them for recommendations or poll your friends and family for a wedding caterer who makes delicious wedding dishes.

Entertainer

The best bands and DJs are in demand. Decide on what kind of entertainment you want at your wedding, and start contacting your preferred entertainment vendors. Now that you have secured your venue, you can give the information to your entertainer and start putting together a timeline for your special day.

Invitation Printer

Once you’ve got all your major details nailed down (where and when), it’s time to plan out your invitation strategy. Today’s couples have more options that couples of 30, 20, or even 10 years ago. Inviting your wedding guests is about more than just locating a printer and sending out invitations in the mail. Couples today can use many channels, and it’s your job to locate a vendor that can assist you with invitations and the graphics for your wedding website and social media sites.

Videographer/Photographer

wedding foodIt’s time to choose the wedding vendor that can help you capture all the special moments of your wedding day. Decide whether you want a videographer or photographer (or both), and start asking around for recommendations. You can also start by researching local videographers and photographers online, but make sure you choose a high-quality videographer and photographer. Don’t forget to read the fine print in the contract so both of you are satisfied after your wedding day is over.

Décor

Your wedding decorations are a great way customize your venue (though it doesn’t need to be a budget buster if you use these tips). Talk to your wedding venue for recommendations of décor vendors that can make your dream wedding a reality.

Cake Baker, Wedding attire, Flowers…

Once you have all your major wedding vendors booked, it’s time to fill in the blanks. Your caterer may be able to make your cake, or you can ask your event venue, friends, and family for suggestions. Use these tips for organized wedding planning and this wedding planning checklist to help you stay on deadline right up until your special day.

When should I book my wedding venue?

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wedding day at a reception hall with bride and groom dancing after wedding planning

Once you’re engaged (congrats!), it’s the logical question in wedding planning: “What is the first step in wedding planning? When does it need to be done?” The answer: find and book your wedding venue. Finding the right wedding venue is an important part of the process, and a step that determines many other steps of the wedding process. After all, you can’t send out wedding invites or hire a wedding caterer until you book a wedding venue.

When should I book my wedding venue?

When it comes to booking the right wedding venue, the sooner the better. At the very least, try to book your wedding venue for your date 9-12 months in advance. If you have less time before your big day, there is still hope. Use these tips to plan a wedding quickly. If your chosen wedding date isn’t available at your wedding venue, ask if another date around your chosen day is open (such as a Friday or Sunday).

How do I choose a wedding date?

Deciding on the right wedding date is also a process; it isn’t always as easy as opening your calendar and pointing. When you’re trying to coordinate your wedding date and wedding venue, you can use several different strategies to decide on the perfect special date:

  • Choose a season. If you have a strong affinity for a certain time of the year, this is your chance to enjoy every aspect of it (in your décor, photo opps, invites, every themed detail!). Another advantage of choosing a wedding date during your season is that you have a long list of wedding dates to choose from. Contact your wedding venue and ask them what dates are available during your favorite time of the year.
  • Ask your wedding venue what dates are available. A really special wedding venue can be a huge part of deciding on the right wedding date. If you want to hold your wedding at the venue, ask your venue what dates are open for your big day.
  • Zero in on a special date. The day of your first date. Your grandparent’s wedding anniversary. If you want to hold your wedding on a special day, add this question (“do you have this date available?”) to your list of wedding venue questions and use it as a deciding factor whether to tour the wedding venue.
  • Schedule your wedding date when you’re not scheduled. If you have a busy season at work, schedule your wedding for a time of year when life isn’t as stressful.

What do I do if my wedding venue is already booked on the date I want?

It happens. You contact a wedding venue you love about your chosen wedding date and they’re booked. If you have any flexibility, ask about days surrounding your favorite date (such as a Friday evening, Sunday brunch, or another weekend). A little bit of flexibility can guarantee you the venue you crave—and the first step of your wedding planning checked off (and booked so you can move on to the next detail!).

Wedding Décor on a Budget: Decoration Tips that Save Funds

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wedding reception with MR & MRS letters after wedding planning has started

Budgeting for the right wedding venue, dress, catering, photographer, videographer…it can seem like you don’t have any funds left after you’ve made all the big wedding planning decisions (like wedding décor!). Use these decisions to make the most of those wedding décor dollars and put together a beautiful wedding reception (on a budget!).

Choose a venue that doesn’t need a lot of décor.

If you want to make a statement at your wedding without dropping a lot of moola, make a concerted effort to find a wedding venue that doesn’t need a lot of décor. Depending on your vision, look for a building with the architectural details that make an impact. For an elegant wedding, look for sophisticated and stylish building details. If you’re planning a vintage wedding, search for history in every corner (a historical story, architecture, etc.)

Allocate your budget dollars accordingly.

As much as you might enjoy purchasing items for all those little touches, setting a wedding budget now can help you keep a lot of perspective later. Put simply, make sure you spend your dollars on the items that mean the most (i.e. wedding dress, centerpieces, etc.) so you have money for the items you need the most (and make the biggest impact).

Ask the pros for money-saving options.

You hired the experts. Use them. Ask your wedding planner (for a one-stop, hire the event planner at your venue) for recommendations of décor that can make a big impact without a big price tag. Your wedding planner may be able to make suggestions, such as high impact centerpieces or a way to minimize the amount of décor needed.

Look for deals.

Packaged deals, sale items, repurposed items from a local sale site. There are a lot of ways to save money on wedding décor—if you look for them. Keep your eyes peeled for items that other brides and grooms don’t need any more that you can use (i.e. chalkboards, centerpiece items, wedding games, etc.) and deals from your favorite wedding vendors.

Don’t assume that DIY is always the cheapest.

It’s natural to assume that do-it-yourself projects are easier on the budget than bought items, but proceed with caution. Sometimes you can find vendors that can do the project more affordably (tips for your search for wedding vendors here). With a little bit of research and some strategic choices (like the venue), you can coordinate the wedding of your dreams.

Beautiful Wedding Entrance Décor Ideas that Are Sure to Impress

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bride above a beautiful wedding reception

One of the most important parts of planning any event is the entrance; it’s your chance to make a statement about what’s to come and draw your guests in to the atmosphere (and fun) of your wedding reception!

wedding venue Milwaukee WI

Give them a beautiful scene.

The feeling of awe creates a powerful first impression. Watch your guests’ jaws hit the ground by choosing a beautiful venue, and use lighting and décor to leave their heads spinning. Look for wedding venues with distinct architectural details and lighting that accents those details and catches your guests’ eye.

place cards made after guest list is finalizedGive them direction.

If you want your guests to feel welcome, don’t leave them wondering what to do next. Use a sign to direct your guests where to go with a beautiful sign that welcomes and inspires. For a more subtle hint, set up a focal point for your guests: a creative arrangement of place cards that leads your guests to their table—and to your breath-taking reception.

welcoming wedding venue foyer with warm fireplace

Warm them up.

This is Wisconsin. It gets cold outside, which is why your guests’ll appreciate coming in to a warm and welcoming lobby. A roaring fire in the foyer, warm lighting, and the right décor makes your guests feel grateful to come in from the cold.

chalk sign on sidewalk to welcome wedding guests

Draw them in.

Exterior touches can be just as meaningful as your foyer. Use outside decorations (make sure it’s okay with your wedding venue) to make your guests look forward to your wedding reception.s

Be tasteful.

If you want to give your guests a taste of what’s to come, greet them with a delicious taste of what’s to come. Appetizers, interactive food stations, delectable comfort foods all create a scrumptious taste that leaves your guests hungry for more.

company holiday party entrance after using company holiday party checklistSet the mood.

A striking archway, gorgeous floral décor, or over-the-top décor touches make your guests feel like they have arrived, and are ready to be impressed by what’s coming next (your wedding reception!).

All Your Questions about Wedding Venues Answered

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wedding couple dancing at wedding venueLooking for the right wedding venue is an important (crazy important!) part of wedding planning. It’s the backdrop for every decision and every photo opp. Because it’s such a big decision, it’s also a choice you want to get right—and probably have a million questions about. We’ve tried to answer as many of those questions here (and would be more than happy to answer others via email or Facebook).

What questions should I ask my wedding venue?

As you screen potential wedding venues, make sure you ask questions that can help you make sure all the boxes are checked on your venue checklist. Always tour your venue (in person or ask someone you trust) because online pictures can be misleading. Ask your wedding venue staff these questions before the tour (and take their answers to heart).

  1. Is the date of my wedding available? Or are there any dates available around this date/month?
  2. What is cost of your venue? What does that amount cover? Are there are any additional fees (i.e. overtime fees, surcharges, etc.)?
  3. How many can your venue accommodate?
  4. Do you offer wedding planning if we need it?
  5. Is there parking available? What is the cost of parking?
  6. Are multiple events held at the same time at your venue?
  7. What is your venue policy? Can I bring in a vendor of my choice?
  8. Do you have space for the ceremony and reception? (If you need space for both.)
  9. What is your alcoholic beverage policy? Do you provide servers?
  10. Is your venue wheelchair accessible?
  11. Does your venue provide staff? Is there a staff member I can touch base with on my wedding day (in case of issues)?
  12. Do you have liability insurance? (Covers you in case of an on-site injury.)
  13. What is your policy in case of cancellation?
  14. Are there hotels nearby for my guests?
  15. Is there space for dinner, secure storage of my personal belongings, photo opportunity, changing rooms, etc.?
  16. When can I schedule a tour?

What is an open vendor policy?

It’s inevitable that you’ll hear the term “open vendor policy” as you plan your wedding. An open vendor policy allows you to bring in any vendor you want for catering, décor, etc. There are some requirements, such as that the caterer has a license, but other than that the choice is up to you. If you need guidance choosing vendors, look for a venue that offers event planning or a friendly staff member that’s easy to contact (and knowledgeable and friendly!).

Venues that do not have an open vendor policy have a list of select vendors that you can use during your wedding planning. For example, they have a list of caterers that you have to choose from or an in-house caterer you have to use.

How can I make sure that my wedding venue expenses fall within my budget?

Costs can add up as you plan your wedding; some wedding venues offer a final planning meeting with a final list of expenses. This meeting allows you to make final changes that allow you to stay within budget. As you plan, use this guide to save money at your wedding venue.

What size wedding venue do I need?

Like the old fairy tale, the right wedding venue is not too big and not too small. Once you have used compiled a tentative guest list, use that number to choose the right-sized wedding venue. When you interview your venue, ask the wedding venue staff about their maximum capacity—and make sure you don’t exceed that number. A maximum capacity is set in place for the safety of your guests.

If you choose a large wedding venue and only invite a few guests, your venue is going to look empty. The opposite decision can backfire as well; a wedding venue crammed full can send your wedding guests to the door because they are uncomfortable and feel crammed in.

What spaces do I need at my wedding venue?

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wait staff at wedding venueMaking sure you have the right spaces at your wedding venue may not be a glamorous criteria on your wedding venue checklist, but it’s a necessary part of scouting locations for your big day. Many a married couple and an event planner can tell you that having the right rooms at your wedding venue is an invaluable part of planning a smooth-running day. (After all, who wants to change into their wedding attire in the car?)

Space vs. spaces

Let’s start with a key differentiation; we’re talking about the spaces you need on your wedding day as opposed to square footage. For square footage, make sure you ask the wedding venue about their maximum capacity—and make sure you don’t exceed that number. A maximum capacity is set in place for the safety of your guests.

Like the old fairy tale, the right wedding venue is not too big and not too small. Once you have used these tips to craft a tentative guest list, use that number to choose the right sized wedding venue. If you choose a wedding venue and only invite a few guests, your venue is going to look empty. The opposite decision can backfire as well; a wedding venue crammed full can send your wedding guests to the door because they are uncomfortable and feel crammed in.

Spaces

As important as adequate wedding venue square footage is ensuring that the right wedding spaces are available for your big day. Ask your wedding venue about rooms you need for your big day, such as a room for changing, a secure area for your belongings, catering space, restrooms, and—most fun!—unique spaces for wonderful photography opps.

If you’re planning on holding your wedding ceremony and reception at your venue, add that space to your wedding venue checklist. Ask the wedding venue if they have adequate space for the ceremony without having to make your guests wait for the venue staff to take down and set up the wedding reception.

Another key consideration for many couples is locating a venue that can meet the special needs of their guests. If you have a guest on your guest list with special needs, look for a wedding venue with spaces that are accessible for your guests.

Some venues come with an in-house caterer; if you’d rather bring in your favorite caterer, look for a venue with an open vendor policy (and tips on how to choose the right wedding vendors for your special day). A venue with an open vendor policy allows you to bring in a caterer of your choice, as long as they have a valid catering license. In addition to an open vendor policy, ask the venue if they have space for your caterer or if they have space for a tent your caterer can use. These are the spaces that might not be as exciting as dress shopping, but are vital when you’re planning every detail of your big day.