There are a ton of things you need to consider when picking your venue. Here’s a handy list to keep you on track.
If you’re looking at venues already and don’t have a price in mind, I’m judging you.
Kidding because I totally did that too, but honestly stop right now. You’ve probably stumbled on this site because you’re a budget bride. Guess what? That beautiful mansion right in the center of town doesn’t cost $100/hour. More like $1,000. Tear yourself away from places that are probably (definitely) out of your price range and be realistic. As heartbreaking as it is, you really need to set an estimated expense for your venue and rank the importance of other factors in your wedding. If you know you want a stunning venue and don’t care as much about the dress (or photography, or food, or any other big expense) you can finagle your budget to fit your needs. Be cognizant of what you cut though – don’t blow all your money on one thing!
How to you see yourself walking down the aisle? Are you descending a grand staircase or walking down a leaf-ridden path? Do you want to be inside or outside? Is it a destination wedding or sentimental space? Get an idea* in your head of how you want to feel as you take your last walk as a “you” and not a “we!”
2a. Location is also really important and plays a big role in the budget and your vision. If you know you just want close friends and family, something more secluded like a destination wedding might work for you. If you, your fiancé and the majority of both of your families live in Maine, I’d strongly suggest having your wedding in Maine and not Kansas because you went there once and it was beautiful.
*Disclaimer – maybe you’ve been thinking about it and honestly just can’t come up with a vision of what you want. That’s okay! It brings me to my next point.
3. That “feeling”
Visit some venues and soon enough, it hits you. Just like the feeling you got when you met your special someone, this particular venue will give you a warm, fuzzy feeling inside. You’ll start daydreaming of all the ways you can decorate it, what your almost-husband will look like standing at the end of the aisle and how much fun it will be to dance the night way with your loved ones there. You might look at other venues but you can’t get this one out of your head. You search Google images and longingly stare at the other brides who celebrated their days there and hope/pray/need your date to be open and the venue be in your price range. It almost becomes an obsession and you’re okay with that.
4. Fiancé’s Feelings
You may be head-over-heels in love with this place, but make sure your fiancé feels the same. If he doesn’t really care to do much of the wedding planning, let him know (with the biggest puppy eyes you can muster) how much you love this venue and he’ll probably say “Cool, let me know the address” and all your dreams will come true. If he wants to be involved, honestly y’all should already have been looking together. I was super guilty of venue-surfing when I should have been taking notes in classes so I researched more venues than Lucas, but I always let him know the places I really liked at first glance. When we sat down and looked at all the venues’ websites, we both knew before we visited where we wanted. Our first visit (and subsequent four visits) just reinforced how much we wanted to be married there.
So once you’re really serious about a venue (that is within your budget because we talked about this), try to take a really objective look at what it offers for its price.
Does the venue have vendor, noise or time restrictions? Personally, we were attracted to placed with an open vendor policy. We knew we wanted to get married outside in the summer (which is already getting expensive), so having the freedom to choose vendors made a big difference. Noise and time wasn’t as important to us but still a plus that our venue didn’t have restrictions for either.
Check to see if your venue does anything special. I’m not giving away the surprise of our venue’s “extra,” but look at the contract to see if the space or property offers anything your other properties do not.
Make sure there are enough bathrooms – I’ve heard that three is the usual.
You should probably be looking at caterers during your venue search as well. If a caterer you like needs a full kitchen to prepare and your top venue doesn’t have one, you’ll have some problem-solving to do.
Parking is huge. You’re inviting 80+ people to this space and need to make sure 1) they can get there and 2) it’s not costing you an arm and a leg. A few of the venues we looked at only had parking for 100 (we’re inviting a dozen or so more) and charged us a fee to charter a bus that would pick guests 101+ up from a lot a few blocks away. That’s just another stress you won’t want to deal with on your big day.
“Plan B” is also super important, especially for outside weddings. Before you sign anything, make sure the venue has told you how they handle bad weather; even ask how other brides handled it at your location. If they have a thin plan, price a tent into your budget just in case.
Have you picked your venue yet? What are some of the most important things you thought about?