11 Tips for Choosing a Wedding Venue
Updated: Dec 28, 2018
A beautiful wedding consists of many components. One of them is the venue of your celebration. How lucky we are to have an abundance of venue options nowadays! Raw spaces, restaurants, city lofts, libraries, museums, rooftops, catering halls, industrial warehouses, art galleries private estates, etc.- all of them have a set of specifications to be considered before signing a contract.
Today, we talk about top 11 tips that will help you to pick the right venue.
Before you start, we suggest talking to your planner, it can ease the whole process a lot. The thing is that exploring a venue from a planner’s perspective refers to a very detailed process that can prevent any unexpected surprises during your celebration. We, planners, do ask where the kitchen is located - so we know the waiters don’t cross the dance floor and interrupt your first dance while serving the entrée; if there is an on-site catering, we ask about the weight of the served meal - you don’t want to surprise your guests just with the presentation, but not the quantity&quality of the food served; we do check how many/where the outlets are located - so we’re sure your entertainment team can use the cords safely; and so many more tiny details that are essential for the smooth wedding experience.
In general, follow these rules:
1. Stick to your style. It sounds pretty obvious that having a rustic wedding in a luxury ballroom (or vice versa) is a little odd, right? Remember that your wedding venue will set a tone and ambiance of the celebration. Stick to your guns. I know you want your wedding to be the one of a lifetime experience. I also understand that you want to impress your guests. But the first thing you need to consider is your personal feeling. Even if the luxury ballroom chandeliers, elegant columns, and ruffles look impressive, it doesn’t mean you mandatory need them. Maybe, you want to set an industrial vibe? So go for a raw space or a loft. Believe me or not, hosting a lush wedding that you don’t want will be more embarrassing than inviting your high-end guests to a significantly-decorated loft with a city view. Your wedding is the reflection of your couple, your lifestyle, your vibes.
2. One of the most important things you need to remember is your privacy (aka “1 wedding at a time”). Please, don’t neglect this thing. Banquet halls and big hotels often hold more than one event at a time. If you want to keep the celebration within your guest list only, make sure you’ll be the only attendees on the spot. It is possible that a venue can offer you various scenarios in order to keep a few celebrations at the same time. You may be informed that:
“the other wedding we host is much smaller and is booked in a private room for 70 guests on the other side of the hall, so you won’t be able to meet them”
“the other wedding we host will be over by the time your reception starts”
“we have more than enough equipment, chairs, and staff to do both weddings simultaneously”
Even though for some decent professional venues these requirements are manageable, it is much better to have a wedding planner or coordinator on a spot, to keep all things on track. You probably don’t want to hear a stranger’s toast from the next-door wedding or meet another bride in a shared bathroom or a hotel hall.
Also, keep in mind that if you have a wedding (both - ceremony and reception) in a country club/restaurant, some club members or guests can be present on the spot. Let’s say, there is a shared lounge area or a restaurant next to your outdoor ceremony spot - most likely, these venue guests will be able to observe your ceremony. In most cases, it works fine, but make sure to ask a venue for security, so no strangers interact your space.
3. Speaking of an open-air ceremony (or even a reception in general), check out if your venue has an alternative indoor space in case of bad weather.
4. Basic questions to be asked:
- is your date/time available?
- how many people can a venue fit? make sure to find out a reception seating style before signing a contract - having 150 guests for a cocktail reception is different than 150 guests for a sit-down reception. Don’t forget to consider the venue dimensions in accordance with your needs: quantity of guests + a place for a band/DJ + dance floor + a possible lounge-zone + a bar.
- what is included in the rental fee?
- if space should be transformed from a ceremony to a reception, how long will it take and where will the cocktail hour be held?
- how many restrooms do they have?
- do they have a coat check?
- when is the set-up allowed?
- what are the hours of the rent? If a venue located in the city it may have the noise restrictions.
- is there any secure space where the gifts can be stored?
- if you need to sign some documents (Ketubah, marriage license, for example) before/after your ceremony, what space can be used for this purpose?
- how many waiters will be provided for the reception dinner?
- will there be any assistants at the venue? Bridal attendant, venue manager, maître d'?
5. Remember your total budget. Booking $$$ venue doesn’t mean covering the whole cost of the wedding. You’ll spend extra on your floral design, additional rentals, entertainment, etc. Don’t forget about taxes and gratuity while making your calculations.
6. Ask if there are any suites/rooms for you/wedding party/guests at your venue. As a bride, you’ll mandatory need your suite. Also, it is always a nice gesture to have an extra space for some of your guests - senior guests/breastfeeding moms, etc.
7. Location.Location. Location. Ask your venue if they have enough parking spots and/or provide a valet parking? For the guests who use a public transportation, make the clear instructions how to get there. If your venue is located far away from the city (and before you hire a transportation company), ask your venue if they provide a shuttle bus. For some hotels and country clubs, it is a normal practice.
8.Find out if there are any vendor restrictions. Some venues have strict policies on vendors.
9. If you choose a venue with on-site catering, ask if you can do a tasting before your wedding day. Also, keep an eye on the menu offered. Discuss ahead if they are able to meet any dietary restrictions and how flexible they are about last minute changes (+1s come sometimes). Also, as it was said before, pay attention to the weight of the served meal.
10. Find out if there are any restrictions inside the venue - wedding sparkles, special decorations, etc.
11. The last but not least - take a venue tour. It is essential. You can visit an open house event or schedule a private tour with a venue manager. If you have a chance to check a venue as a regular visitor it will be the best - you’ll get an insider experience.
And, of course, read the whole contract very carefully!
We hope these tips will help you to narrow down your search and find a fabulous wedding venue.
Photo - @TheHons Photo