The big day is all set, now what? Selecting a wedding venue is one of the biggest decisions you'll make in your wedding planning process. It will influence the rest of your planning from your vendors, to decor and even attire. But before you put down any deposits or form an attachment with a venue there are a few major things to consider. Here are six things to think about when picking the perfect venue for your big day.
Determining your budget and how much you can afford will help you avoid falling in love with a venue that's out of your price range. For more information on budgets check out my past blog post here.
Number of guests:
Estimate how many guests you'd like to invite to your big day, every venue will have a guest count minimum. This is a great time to sit down with your fiance and decide if you want a bigger or smaller wedding. With my wedding planning, we decided not to invite family friends or relatives that we don't talk to, it's our wedding and we want to keep it small. When talking to a venue, aim low in your numbers, it's easier to add guests then try to remove them. Just remember, if your final number winds up being smaller than you had anticipated you might have to still pay for extra plates.
The first thing to decide is if you are having your ceremony and reception at the same location. If you are planning to have the ceremony at a different location, have your two venues within driving distance for your guests. If you are plan to have a religious ceremony, book the ceremony before booking your reception venue.
If the ceremony venue is a church, talk to the church and find out what rules you have to abide by. Some churches will let you bring in your own officiant, where some others you have to have theirs and take marriage classes.
One of the largest cost of a wedding reception is catering. Here are a few questions to ask: Does the venue you are looking at include a caterer, or make you have one? Do you want a venue that you can do your own thing? Some venues have catering included in their overall price, and others do not. The ones that do not can have a preferred vendors list that can hide some unknown charges. When I was looking for my venue, one place I LOVED had this preferred caterer list, and if you want someone not on that list or doing it yourself you had to pay almost an extra $1000!!!! I couldn't justify paying that much extra, so even though I loved the venue, I looked elsewhere.
Be mindful about either having plated or buffet style serving, and the overall cost per person. Another thing to take into consideration is alcoholic drinks. Drinks can get pricy pretty quick, do you want to supply your guest with drinks, or do you want them to pay for their own with a cash bar? With my venue since it's a distillery, they are creating me a drink that I'm paying for x amount of drinks, and everything else is a cash bar.
Outdoor vs indoor and a Plan B:
Are you looking at an outdoor or indoor venue, and does the outdoor one have something you can use in case of bad weather? While you might not even want to think about rain putting a damper on your outdoor wedding, you can't look at venues without considering an alternative. I live in Michigan, and know that the weather can change at any moment and it can snow, rain and be over 80 degrees in one day. Figure out if there is an indoor space that you can use should the weather turn bad or if there is an option to set up an outdoor tent if an outside celebration is the only option.
One thing I love to do is search venues that I've never photographed and look at other photographer's work of the venue. The same thing can be done as a bride looking at a venue. Seeing what photographer's showcase shows you the lighting at the venue, the overall space, ideas for decor and so much more.
Choosing a venue does take time, don't rush into it. Visit a few different venues and figure out what fits best for your vision and your budget. These are just a few steps and tips to finding the perfect venue, always talk to vendors you already have booked for advice, or if you know someone who had their wedding at that venue ask them questions about their big day and what the loved and didn't about the space.
Happy wedding planning!