At the top of every engaged couple’s to-do list is finding the perfect wedding venue. Some couples know exactly which venue they’d like to host their wedding at from the moment they get engaged, while some of you may not have a clue as to what you want and what is even available to you in your area. The wedding venue is the first thing you will book as a newly engaged couple and it sets the tone for the overall feel for your wedding day.
The options are endless. From grand hotels to quaint bistros, sprawling gardens to urban rooftops, and rustic barns to modern cityscapes – the choices can become overwhelming. So how do you narrow down what you want in order to find the perfect wedding venue for your day? Even if you have a general idea of what you are looking for, there are so many factors to consider. Here are some tips to help guide you in finding the perfect wedding venue.
Determine your style.
A casual affair with outdoor elements, or a formal soirée at a grand hotel? Downtown chic or a lakeside retreat? A rustic country feel or modern urban ambiance? Determining the style of your wedding is the first step in deciding which venue fits your vision best. Every couple is different and will have a unique list of qualities that they are looking for in a venue. Once you nail down the style and feel you are looking for, you can contact venues that fit that description.
Pick a season.
A summer wedding in July or a winter wedding in December – you need to decide on the time of year you’d like to have your wedding so that when you contact venues they can let you know what dates are available in that particular month. Most weddings happen in the summer months, but autumn is also becoming a popular choice for couples to tie the knot. The month you choose to get married in will help determine the best fit for a venue. Depending when you want to get married, you might have to be flexible with your date as good venues book up at least a year in advance.
Come up with a budget.
This is the biggest factor when choosing a wedding venue. When you contact venues, ask them what the average cost is to have a wedding at their location. Costs vary greatly, and you want to make sure the venue fits within your budget before you go on a site visit. Otherwise, you may just be wasting your time, or fall in love with a venue that you can’t afford. Anyone contributing to the cost of the wedding should go along on the venue tours so that everyone has all of the information needed when making a decision on booking a venue. Make sure to get all of the information in writing so that you can review everything later and compare each venue properly to ensure they fit within the budgeted costs.
Determine the number guests.
You should have an idea on the number of guests you will be inviting to your wedding so that you can make sure the venues you visit can accommodate the number of guests you will be inviting. Always book a venue that can accommodate all invited guests – don’t book a venue hoping you will have fewer guests that can attend. Just in case most of the guests RSVP yes, you want to make sure your venue can accommodate everyone comfortably.
Do you want the ceremony and reception at the same location?
If so, you need to choose venues that can accommodate both. If you’d like an outdoor ceremony, does the venue have outdoor space to hold a ceremony and what is their plan B in case of rain? Will you need time in between the ceremony and reception to flip the room? Is there an extra rental fee to have the ceremony on site? If they don’t offer ceremony space, can they recommend a location close by that provides this service?
Ask the right questions.
Some venues offer full service – catering, tables, chairs, linens, glassware, dishware, lighting, bartenders, alcohol, tents, décor, music, and audio/visual. You will have to determine your needs before meeting with a venue to ensure they can provide everything that you need. Do they also provide a list of preferred vendors and are you required to book those vendors or can you bring in your own? What are all of the costs involved – rental fees, taxes, gratuities, service fees, cake cutting fees, set up fees. Get everything in writing before signing a contract and putting down a deposit.
What are your expectations for food and drink?
This is often the most important part of the wedding – some couples can be very particular on the style and quality of the food and drink that they serve their guests. Generally speaking, the higher the quality and service, the higher the price. What kind of food and beverages would you like to serve at your wedding? If you have a certain idea in mind – let’s say food stations or family style service, a casual bar-b-que feel or a gourmet five-course meal – you will need to make sure the venue can accommodate your requests. If not, will they allow you to bring in your own caterer? Do they have set menu packages and can they customize a menu for you? Do they provide a menu trial dinner? Will they provide the alcohol or do you need to provide it yourself and apply for your own permit? Will your expectations require extra servers and fees?
Consider the out of town guests.
Will you have a lot of out of town guests that will need accommodations and transportation? If so you’ll want to choose a venue that is close to hotels and where guests can be transported to easily. If the venue you absolutely love is a little out of the way, you may need to look into bus and shuttle services to get guests to and from the wedding site.