Choosing the Right Venue
Choosing your venue can be the hardest part of the wedding planning process. If you are like me, you will probably spend countless weekends touring venues in your city frustrated that anything within your budget is not what you had in mind and everything you like is outrageously expensive. Hang in there! Eventually you will find the perfect place.
Use the internet, recommendations from friends, and be creative. Remember, just because a place doesn’t pop up on your Google search for “wedding venues near me” does not mean that the park, restaurant or community center you like doesn’t hold weddings. Be creative, brainstorm places you and your fiancé have happy memories. However, be mindful that a place that holds few weddings a year will not have the experience and coordination that classic venues offer. On the flip side, there is a balance as some strictly “wedding venues” are like wedding factories and may pump out two weddings in a single day and you may not be their first priority.
What are You Looking For?
Sit down with your fiancé and consider what you want your wedding to look like.
Do you want your ceremony in a church or place of worship?
If this is important to you meet with the church to get an idea of availability. Certain churches host weddings on certain days and have specific time slots. This can help guide your reception venue hunt.
Will your ceremony and reception be at different locations?
Whether that is because your ceremony will be in a church or another venue be mindful of the distance between the two venues and the timing of your wedding. If your reception immediately follows the ceremony be sure there isn't more than a 10-15 minute commute between the two. You will need time to take photos and get yourself to the next location. If you are having a ceremony early in the day and wish to do an evening reception the distance is not as critical, but be sure to inform guests so that they can make arrangements for the gap.
Do you want any part or all of your wedding to be outdoors?
Are you looking for a garden ceremony and dinning hall meal or dancing under the stars? If any part of your big day will be outside be sure to have a contingency plan. That could be anything from a hotel able to move the party indoors or being ready to buy umbrellas and have a wet train. Just make sure you are comfortable with weather no matter what time of year. Also, keep in mind depending on where a venue is located if you have a DJ outside there may be a noise curfew, ask for specifics when touring these locations.
What time of day and time of year do you wish to hold your wedding?
If you are planning a winter wedding don't forget it gets dark early and the temperature can drop quickly. Planning a summer wedding in a beach town? Don't underestimate the tourist traffic when creating your timeline.
Unique Venue Ideas
Performing arts center, theater, restaurant, AirBnB or estate, museum, gallery, conservatory, garden, historic library or town hall, arboretum, a college or university campus.
Questions to Ask During Venue Tours
1. What are the available dates and times?
This is especially critical to learn right off the bat if you are set on a certain date or have already reserved a date & time with your church.
2. How long do you have the space, can you come early to get ready and set up? Is there a noise ordinance where your music would need to be turned off or guests out by a certain hour?
3. What is included in utilizing the space? Do they provide catering, tables & chairs, alcohol, parking?
For some places you are just renting the facility and need to bring in your own catering, tables, chairs, and even dance floor. Be sure to find out if this venue requires you to use certain vendors. Be careful, you may find an affordable space that only allows you to use pricey catering companies. Other venues are more all-inclusive and could include the champagne, cake and center pieces. This type of venue will quote higher for obvious reasons but save you time and money down the road if you use what they offer. Be sure you like the venue’s options or else you end up double paying.
4. How does the venue handle alcohol?
Some venues require you use their bar, others are BYOB but may have requirements such as hiring security on staff, some venues are alcohol free or only allow beer and wine. Make sure your venue works for your needs.
5. What is their contingency plan for weather?
If it utilizes outdoor space, can they tent for rain? Is there a place indoors to take photos? Are there heaters, fans, or air conditioning to keep guests comfortable?