You’re engaged?! Congrats! After you’ve had the all important conversation with your fiance and family, it’s time to start with the fun process of choosing the perfect wedding venue for your big day (here’s a full breakdown of venue factors).
Truth is, the process can also be a complicated one, especially when there is so much on the line. Choosing the perfect wedding venue is important; it’s the first part of your wedding your guests see (wow factor!) and the foundation for every wedding detail.
Think about location.
Your location decision can be as small as choosing the area you want to hold your wedding in, or as big as deciding what city is the perfect site for your big day. Once you’ve decided on a city, it’s time to narrow down your area and make a list of amenities that you need for your big day (i.e. parking, access for guests with mobility issues, etc.).
Consider your style.
Your wedding venue should reflect your style; after all, your style should start with your venue and come out in every detail. Decide whether a historical wedding venue with all those unique architectural details is your style, or whether a more modern urban or rustic venue fits with who you are as a couple.
Choose a date or time of year.
You’ve narrowed down location, style, and started on a list of amenities. Now it’s time to set that all important detail: the date (here’s a list of factors to consider when choosing your wedding date). Make a list of wedding venues that check off all your boxes, and use your wedding date as the final factor. There are two ways to use date when searching for wedding venues: 1) contact venues with your preferred date; or 2) contact venues with a month or season you are interested in and ask for a list of available dates. Either way, you should be able to narrow down your list of dates or venues with this basic step.
Contact the venues with your questions.
Once you’ve checked off the boxes and narrowed down your wedding venue options, contact your potential venues with this list of questions:
- What dates are available during the month/season I am considering? OR Is the date we chose available?
- What are your venue rates? What length of time does that rate cover? What is included in the rate?
- Do you hold other events at the same time as our reception?
- How many people can your venue accommodate? How many can be seated at dinner?
- Do you offer wedding planning services?
- Do you have preferred vendors I have to use? Or does your venue have an open vendor policy (which means you can bring in whatever vendors you want)?
- Can I hold both my wedding ceremony and reception there? (If needed.)
- What is your policy for alcoholic beverages? Is it provided or do I have to bring it in? Do you provide bartenders?
- What parking is available at your facility? Or is there parking available near your venue? Do my guests have to pay for parking?
- Are you wheelchair accessible?
- What staffing do you provide at my wedding? Who can I talk to about issues that arise on my wedding day?
- Do you have liability insurance? (Covers you in case of an on-site injury.)
- What is the cancellation policy?
- Are there on-site or nearby hotels for my out-of-town guests?
- When can I schedule a tour of your venue?
Never book a venue without seeing it in person. If you can’t do the tour in person, ask someone you trust to screen your venue for you. Make sure you ask to see every area you need to use, including the changing rooms, outside areas, etc.
Review the fine print.
Don’t sign on the dotted line of your favorite venue before you ask about overage fees for going over the allotted time (ask if there is one), costs for staffing, or for tables or chairs. If your venue is outdoor, or you plan to hold part of your wedding in their outdoor space, ask about tent rentals just in case the weather turns bad. A bit of due diligence now can lead to a stress-free wedding day later, held in the perfect wedding venue for your big day.