Updated: Jun 10, 2021
You have found the one your soul loves, the question has been asked, the ring is on your finger and the date has been set. It's time to choose where to hold the most important day of your life!
Where you have your wedding ceremony and reception will be something you remember forever. After the wedding day has come and gone, it will be captured forever in your photos, so choosing a meaningful venue will serve you well in the years to come.
Use this guide as a way to help you find how your venue of choice will add to the overall feel of your big day. These tips and tricks are here to help you choose the perfect spot to say, "I do" and begin your journey in life with the one you love.
Let your wedding vision lead the way
Every bride dreaming of her special day desires for her wedding day to have an overall "feel". If you're wanting a laid-back, all natural ceremony with just a few close friends, you probably wouldn't choose a modern art gallery as your venue.
On the other hand, if you are looking for a very elegant, polished wedding day, dragging chairs through the sand on the beach probably won't work. Finding the perfect fit for your venue can see daunting but if you use your wedding vision as a starting point to narrow down the list of venue options it can be an easier process.
Once you've got an idea of how you want your wedding to look, feel and be remembered, the next step is to find a wedding venue that fits your style. Here are some ideas to get your creative juices flowing.
Traditional wedding venues gives rise to a sense of history and legacy, and allows the specialness of the day to shine without fuss and distraction. A beautiful church, country club or golf course may provide the the perfect backdrop for a couple wanting a timeless and classic feel to their wedding day.
Art galleries, modern restaurants, loft venues, and warehouses can provide a blank canvas
kind of space for your wedding vision to come to life. Clean, crisp and minimalistic are words that describe a modern wedding ceremony.
An al fresco wedding gives your nuptials a fresh, organic feel that wraps you and your guests in the best that nature has to offer. Being outdoors is perfect for those wanting a more bohemian vide type wedding. An ocean-front ceremony on the beach or a beautiful wedding on the lawn of the park where you met could be wonderful options for you. Botanical gardens are also a good option for a natural feel that have a weather-proof guarantee.
Providing simple elegance to a wedding celebration, a rustic venue can have a more down-home feel. With the flexibility to be both indoors and out, a rustic venue allows your personality to shine through. Barn venues, farms, ranches, and wineries are perfect for this type of feel.
Charming and nostalgic, a wedding in a vintage location such as an old library or the marble floors of a 19th century post office can remind people of a simpler time. A couple with an old soul will appreciate the details that a historic venue has to offer.
Romantic venues magnify the love that you're celebrating on your wedding day. Guests will swoon when you choose to have your wedding in an elegant hotel ballroom, a historic mansion or even a castle.
If you find yourself dreaming of a Caribbean beach wedding or nuptials on the freshly-powdered ski slopes, remember that guests may be traveling a very long way. A smaller guest list make destination weddings intimate and memorable, not to mention the unforgettable photos that you will have forever!
Your Guest Matter
When you are choosing a wedding venue, your guest list will play a big role in where you ultimately tie the knot. The biggest factor your guests will play is how many people can actually fit into your venue space.
A guest list that is pushing 300 people will not work in an intimate country church. Your guests may not all be able to physically fit inside the church. If you do manage to fit everyone inside, chances are they would be uncomfortably squished together. Your guests came to see you get married- not to stare at the back of someone's head or a support beam to a building.
When you have your guest list narrowed down to the most important people, have this number ready when you make your venue tour plan. By calling ahead and finding out how many people can be accommodated, you will know right away whether or not a venue will work for your needs.
Another way your guests can affect which venue you choose is by assessing the venue's accessibility. If some of your important guests cannot easily walk down a forest path or are not able to sit outdoors comfortably, you must think about how your venue can accommodate those needs.
Your guests' comfort is another thing to consider. If you choose an outdoor space, is there shad available in case the sun is very hot? If there an alternate space in case of inclement weather? Will guests be able to see your ceremony and reception events from every angle in the venue or are there some obstructed viewpoints?
Making sure your guests have a good time is important, but don't let that be the only thing you think about when choosing a venue. It's your big day, after all!!! Look to find a balance between the things you want and accessibility for your guests.
Do Some Research
As you begin your search for the perfect venue, some simple online research may help you narrow the field.
Not sure where to start? Wedding blogs and forums are a great way to see what other brides have done and what has worked well in different types of venues. These sites can spur your imagination and help you visualize what you want your wedding day to look like.
Once you have a "potential venue list", search for real weddings that have taken place at those venues. Try doing a quick Google images search by entering "venue name + wedding" into the search bar. You should start finding photographs of past weddings held at the venue location. If you do some more digging, you might even discover links to the vendors these past couples used for their special day.
Looking at real weddings will further help you understand the logistical elements of the venue, as well as give you some photography ideas. Photographers will also post images of wedding they have photographed in various locations.
Bonus Tip: If you find images you love from a particular venue, keep them in a file on your computer and create a Pinterest board to show your photographer later!
Things To Consider
Aside from a wedding venue that suits your wedding's vision, there are a number of other things that can really make a difference when choosing the perfect wedding day spot.
Make sure your venue has ample lighting for each stage of your wedding day. You want your photographer to be able to capture all the important moments. If there isn't enough lighting, ask the venue if they provide it or if you'd need to rent equipment separately.
Many venues offer a coordinator dedicated to your event. This can be helpful for knowing the ins and outs of your venue, especially if someone needs something quickly or for vendors that have questions that you won't have to deal with. Be mindful that a venue coordinator is NOT your wedding planner.
Ask if your venue has a "preferred" list of vendors or if you can use any vendor you like. If you must use preferred vendors, ask if there is a discount. Similarly, ask if there is a fee for choosing vendors outside the venue's vetted list. If there is a particular vendor you have your eye on, you will want to know if you can hire them to work for your wedding at the venue you choose.
If your venue offers in-house catering, ask if you can have a tasting before you choose the menu. If you opt out of in-house catering, ask if there are restrictions on certain foods the venue will allow.
Will your wedding be the only event hosted at the venue that day? If not, you will need to make sure your guests know where and when to find your wedding so nobody gets lost. Having more than one event at your venue could also tie up photo spots depending on how the day is scheduled.
Extend the Celebration
Many couples are choosing to make their big day even bigger. Especially if you're welcoming many guests from far away, a weekend of celebrating makes the event last longer and seem even more special.
Think a welcome dinner for out of town guests, the rehearsal dinner for the wedding party, the reception and even a brunch or gift-opening lunch after the wedding day. If you're leaning towards hosting a bigger celebration, a venue may give you a discount or package deal for booking multiple days with them.
Ask For A Breakdown Of Costs
An easy way to narrow down your list of venue options is to see what fits in your budget. The venue eats up a good portion of your wedding budget, so knowing what you can spend is very important.
Try not to have your heart set on any venues that are outside of your budget. It's easy to fall in love with a venue, but if it is too expensive or does not have the services you need, you will be setting yourself up for disappointment. That being said, if you're 100% decided on a particular venue, you must be prepared to compromise in other areas in order to make your dream wedding a reality.
Ask the venue coordinator for a breakdown of all the costs associated with hosting a wedding there. Many venues don't have pricing information on their websites as an incentive for you to contact them. After a call or email they may provide basic package pricing for you, but it won't be a complete list of all fees and charges. It's important to ask some in-depth pricing questions to ensure a venue truly fits into your wedding budget.
Select Your Wedding Venue Finalists
Once you have used your guest list and budget to narrow down your potential venue list, it's time to schedule some time to visit and tour the venues.
This is a critical step, as you won't know how a venue truly feels until you've been there. You may think you have a top choice in mind, but when visiting find out that it doesn't give you the same feeling as you have hoped for.
You can download this helpful Venue Profile template to help you compare different venues against each other so you can get one step closer to choosing the perfect venue for your wedding.
Make sure to ask the right questions when you finally tour the venues on your list and meet with the on-site coordinator or property manager. We will be posting an amazing list of questions for you to take with you shortly so you can bring those along with you for each venue tour so you don't forget to ask.
Don't be pressured into choosing the first venue you tour, and don't sign a contract until you're sure you have found the perfect place for you. However, keep in mind that your date is not secured until you've signed a contract (and many times made that first payment).
Bonus Tip: If you're given a top-level view of the cost, ask for a detailed, itemized list. This will help you find out if there are any extra fees you may not have budgeted for.
There are a lot of things to consider when choosing a wedding venue, but chances are you'll know when you walk in if it's right for you. Once the venue is set, the real fun begins!