Choosing your venue is often one of the first and hardest decisions to make regarding your wedding. It sets the tone for your theme and atmosphere, and will be the background in a majority of your photos.
Besides the guest count and your budget, here are 7 things you need to consider before choosing your venue.
Couple’s Style & Personality
Most importantly, your wedding should be a reflection of who you are as a couple. Let your personalities, hobbies, and even inside jokes shine. If you both like nature, have an outdoor wedding with lots of greenery and flowers. However, if you prefer a night on the town, look into a glam downtown hotel venue. Even if you and your fiance are complete opposites, you can find a venue that incorporates you both. For example, to meet in the middle of an outdoor vs. hotel venue, try a country club that brings the best of both worlds.
Time of Year
Obviously, you don’t need to have an outdoor ceremony in the dead of winter, but all seasons have their ups and downs to consider. For us in the South, the summer heat and humidity gets pretty intense, so check with your potential venue for air conditioning or fans. Even in the beginning of fall, a few heaters would be nice for an outdoor reception. Mother Nature is very tricky, so it helps to be prepared for all weather types just in case.
Like I said, Mother Nature is tricky and a rain plan is a must if you are planning for an outdoor wedding. It isn’t as simple as moving everything indoors. Some venues do not have the same space when converting outdoor to indoor. Maybe their outdoor space can hold 200 guests, but their indoor area can only accommodate 150 without any tables or chairs. You also have to consider additional room for your food and decor.
Different venues have different rules on what is allowed and what isn’t. What happens when you’ve dreamed of having a candlelit reception and sparkler exit for as long as you can remember, but your venue doesn’t allow open flames? Or you’ve already bought your beloved dog Spot a bowtie collar to be the ring bearer, and your venue doesn’t allow animals. These may be little things that you overlook until the last minute, so check with your potential venue upfront on all their do’s and don’ts!
Sometimes venues book months or even a year in advance depending on the season and popularity. If the venue is only open from May to October, those limited weekends fill up fast. Also, certain venues that are very popular for other events, such as conferences, reunions, and private dinners, have a very tough schedule to break into. Are you willing to wait an extended amount of time to marry your guy?
There are many questions to ask when it comes to parking and the transportation for you and your guests. Does the venue have open parking, valet, or any at all? Will either type of parking be included in the cost of your venue or separate for your guests? If you’re choosing multiple location sites and have hired a shuttle to transport your guests, will the buses or vans be allowed to stay on the premises the length of the reception?
On occasion, a venue will require you to use only their caterer, their rentals, and their coordinators. You have to make sure that their preferred list of wedding professionals meet your criteria also, and that you feel comfortable using them. You also need to check with the venue for any additional fees for those, and compare against your budget.