How to Choose Your Wedding Venue

Authored by: Rinette Emerson
November 25, 2016

Selecting your wedding venue is one of the biggest decisions you'll make in planning your wedding. It will influence every aspect of your day, including shaping the ambiance, available vendors, budget, décor, and even the number of guests.

1. Before you even think about visiting a venue or establishing a budget, it's (vital) important to have a vision or theme for your big day. Venue options range from barns, farms, all-inclusive ballrooms or hotels, vineyards, beachfront resorts and mountaintops. Industrial warehouses, city lofts, and art galleries, each offer unique aspects that will impact your wedding in different ways. Determining your wedding theme will also save you considerable time when considering various venue options.

2. Now that you have decided on a wedding theme sit down with your fiancé and set your budget. Determining how much you can afford will help you avoid choosing a place that's above your price range. As a rough rule of thumb, you don’t want to spend more than 50% of your total wedding budget on your venue. Consider all the costs before you sign on the dotted line so that you won’t have to reduce your guests list because you overspent on your choice of venue.

3. Speaking of dotted lines, make sure that you clearly understand what's included and what isn't included in the contract. Read the fine print and triple-check that everything you and your site coordinator discussed is included in the contract. The last thing you need before you leave on your honeymoon is a nasty list of unexpected expenses.

4. Choose your wedding date and availability. Specific wedding dates can be significant for a variety of reasons, but if you can be flexible with your date and time, you’ll often be able to secure your first choice of venue, and your vendors.

5. Make arrangements for you and your fiancée to visit the venue when it's set up for a wedding. Keep an open mind and consider the layout of the reception area once all of the tables, DJ or band equipment, greeting table, bride’s room and any other necessary components are set up.

6. Since weather is something you can’t plan, it's crucial to have a contingency plan if you are planning an outdoor wedding. Before booking, ask the venue coordinator about the backup plan in case of inclement weather and walk through it with them. Make sure that you like the backup spaces and if you don't, you may want to consider another venue.

7. Ask if you'll have exclusive use of the venue. It's important to know how many different functions may be occurring at the same time you are exchanging your “I do’s”. Some venues offer separate restrooms and parking areas for guests attending different events, while others share these facilities. If your space is only separated by a dividing wall, you will probably hear someone else's music during your dinner speeches. If you're getting married in a public space, be aware that strangers may stop and find their way into the background of your wedding photos.

8. Ask if there are any “Restricted Vendors” and/or a list of "Preferred Vendors”.  Preferred vendors are usually vendors who have been vetted by the venue and know the ins and outs of the place whereas restricted vendors are those who are not welcomed at the venue. You may be encouraged to work with vendors who have a good relationship with the venue, but ultimately most venues allow couples to work with vendors of their choice. One of the best ways to choose your venue, and vendor team, is to search out marketplace reviews. These independent online reviews will afford trusted and honest feedback that may not be available through your venue.

9. When selecting your venue consider transportation, parking and overnight accommodations for your guests. These will vary depending on whether you're getting married in the city or in the country, whether the ceremony and reception will take place at the same venue, and whether guests are local or travelling from out of town. Whatever the case, the venue you choose can have an impact on your guest’s ability to attend.  

Most importantly, when considering the numerous options available, don’t get overwhelmed and caught up in the details. Be sure to have fun, enjoy the experience and stick to your budget.

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About the Author: Rinette Emerson

Prior to Enduring Promises, Rinette worked with clients on strategic communications, online development programs, corporate branding and helping clients "get found" online. After officiating her first wedding, many years ago, Rinette was hooked - and now she is a sought after wedding Officiant. A little-known fact about Rinette...she is an amazing artist! You can follow her on LinkedIn.


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