4 Things to Consider Before Choosing a Wedding Venue
While each and every wedding-related decision plays a part in crafting your big day, there are a few choices that make a bigger impact than others. One of the biggest? Your venue. Your party space has the ability to set your wedding’s tone, which is why choosing your site wisely is absolutely imperative. No pressure, right? According to several of the wedding industry’s most lauded planners, there doesn’t have to be—especially with their tips at your disposal.
To help you navigate this integral wedding-planning decision, we teamed up with some of the top planners in the country and put together a list of the essential factors to consider when selecting a wedding venue. From starting early (aim to begin your search at least a year out!) to selecting a location that suits your wedding style (are you planning a classic, bohemian, or rustic event?), these criteria will ultimately make or break any prospective venues. They’ll help you formulate questions ahead of any tours—and should also serve as a final checklist before you sign any contracts. In the end, it’s all about making sure that the venue you choose ticks all of the boxes.
It should also fit into your budget. While not all of these elements revolve around money management, you’ll notice that many are designing to help you get the most bang for your buck. That means paying attention to venue package types (will this vendor provide space, food, and drink?) and its overall capacity (are you wasting money on space you don’t need?). Ahead, the rest of your wedding venue questions—answered.
Choosing a venue will be one of the first wedding planning moves you make, so you’ll likely want to kick off your search on the earlier side. But it all comes down to your personal preference. “If you are particular when it comes to the venue, the earlier the better,” says Wendy Kay of Birds of a Feather Events. “Great venues get booked up 12-18 months in advance, so the sooner you get started the more likely you are to snag your first choice—that goes with all of your vendors.”
Speaking of timelines, what comes first? Picking a wedding date or choosing a venue? It ultimately depends on what is more important to you—getting married during a particular time of year or nabbing the venue of your dreams. Lynn Easton of Easton Events suggests going into the venue search with two ranges of dates—ones that work (a favorite season, perhaps!) and ones that don’t (holidays or other conflicting family events you’d like to avoid)—if your timeline takes precedent. But according to Gold Leaf Events‘ Kate Ryan and Chelsea Dillon, the majority of couples choose a venue first. “Once you have a location, the date will follow based on availability,” they explain. “If a date is selected first, we’ve found clients limit their venue options drastically.”
Number of Venues
Some couples scout two different types of venues: one for their ceremony and one for their reception. While the majority of brides and grooms stick with just one (it’s easier on both your budget and your guests!), plenty—including those tying the knot at a place of worship —require two. If you fall into the latter camp, keep the following in mind, . “It’s important to know the travel time from one venue to the next, so you can plan your event start times accordingly and set a day-of schedule that is accurate for your vendors to follow,” she explains. “Also, take into consideration which location you’ll use for pictures.”
Beyond a destination wedding—where some element of travel is built into the event—you’ll want to be aware of your venue’s accessibility. Can it be easily reached or is it way out of the way? Will directions be straightforward enough for out-of-town guests (who are unfamiliar with the area!) to make sense of? These factors become especially important if you do, in fact, end up with two venues who stresses the importance of making the transition from point A to point B as seamless as possible. After all, lost guests mean an empty cocktail hour!