The first major step to planning your wedding is choosing the perfect wedding venue for you and your soon-to-be spouse. Your wedding venue is so important because it sets the vibe and tone for your entire wedding and it’s where you’ll officially celebrate the beginning of your marriage! Me and Stefan have known for years where we’ve wanted to get married, so this part was obviously super easy for us.
However, going through the process of actually booking our venue, I realized there is a lot to take into consideration when choosing a venue and it goes way beyond vibe and aesthetics! Luckily, everything has worked out perfectly for us at our dream venue, but I’ve come up with some tips and advice for those of you who are trying to find your ideal wedding spot. If you’re wondering how to find a wedding venue, here are my best tips!
What to Look for in a Wedding Venue
1. Good Lighting
Lighting can make or break an event. If your wedding is during the day, does the venue have large windows to let in natural light? If it doesn’t have windows, is there ample lighting to light up the space?
There are all different types of lighting. Some people prefer bright and airy spaces, while others love more moody venues. Either way, your venue shouldn’t be dark and dreary. Your guests should be able to see what’s going on and enjoy your big day!
If any part of your wedding is outside at night, how will the space be lit? These are all things you should take into consideration when it comes to lighting at your wedding venue.
Privacy is something that can sometimes be overlooked. I remember about ten years ago I was on vacation in Dominican Republic and there was a wedding on the beach. Everyone on the beach was watching and there was no privacy for the wedding at all.
If you’re having your wedding on a public beach, you’re ready for this, but keep in mind these people will be in your photos in their bathing suits and maybe even less.
Everyone is different. Some people want their wedding to be completely private, while others are happy to have it in the public eye. Either one is great, as long as you’re comfortable with it- just don’t forget to take privacy into consideration when it comes to your venue.
If you’re someone who wants a completely private wedding, look into venues or spaces you can rent out entirely, such as restaurants and wineries.
3. Areas for Eating, Drinking and Partying
Make sure there are areas for eating, drinking and partying at the venue. The last thing you want is for all the dining tables to take up the entire dance floor.
You want your wedding to flow well, and for there to be logical spaces to do each of these things. A big open space is going to make more sense than a small room or a room with a weird configuration.
4. The Right Decor and Palette for Your Theme
If you’re dreaming of a rustic wedding, you’re not going to choose a wedding venue that’s super modern and sleek. If you have a theme and colour palette in mind, make sure the venue’s aesthetic doesn’t clash with your vision.
Every venue has its own vibe and non-removable decor, so take this into consideration when choosing your site.
5. Proper Acoustics
Good acoustics are so important at a wedding. Not only does everyone need to hear the music on the dance floor, there are also speeches happening throughout the night. It’s the worst to be the guest at a wedding and not hear the sweet words of the father of the bride.
If the venue is too echoey, this will be a problem too, making it difficult for your guests to hear one another talking. Acoustics are a big part of every wedding, so this is a key thing to consider!
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What to Ask at a Wedding Venue
Wondering what to ask at a wedding venue? Here are the points you should definitely be covering!
- Is there a wedding/event coordinator? Who will be our point of contact as we plan our planning? Who will be our point person on our wedding day?
- How far in advance can I reserve my date?
- What is the venue’s capacity?
- If it’s outdoor, or part of it is outdoor, is there a plan B?
- What’s included in the venue, and what do we need to bring in ourselves?
- Do you have a list of recommended vendors for everything not included?
- What happens if we don’t use your recommended vendors? Is there any cost for bringing our own in?
- Do you have your own sound equipment and speakers or does that need to be brought by the entertainment?
- Are there decor restrictions?
- Will your staff be involved in setting up and taking down the decor? Is there an extra cost for more help?
- What is the cost of the venue and all associated costs the venue provides?
- Are there different rates for different days of the week? Time of day? Season?
- How many hours are included in the rental of the space? How early can we arrive and how late can we stay?
- How much is the deposit?
- Is there a structured payment schedule?
- Is there a cancellation policy?
- Are there noise restrictions?
- Is the venue wheelchair accessible?
- How many bathrooms are there?
- Is there parking on site?
- Do you have an in-house caterer?
- If not, can we hire our own caterer or do you have a list of approved caterers we have to choose from?
- Do you have a food and beverage minimum?
- Do we have to purchase liquor through you?
- If we bring our own liquor is there a corkage or service fee?
How to Find a Wedding Venue: 9 Tips
1. Consider Location
If you’re stuck on how to find a wedding venue, location is a good place to start. Do you want to have your wedding in your hometown? Do you want to have a destination wedding? Or maybe you have your eye on a location a few hours away from your hometown.
The location may have a special meaning to you or it could be somewhere you always pictured yourself getting married. When choosing the location, consider your guests as well. If you decide on a destination wedding, be prepared that not everyone will be able to make the trip. And wherever you decide to have your wedding, ensure there are hotels for people to stay at, and put rooms on hold well in advance!
Once you’ve decided on your location, you can start to look for wedding venues in the area! It doesn’t have to be a typical wedding venue either. Many restaurants, art galleries and even University campuses host weddings, so make sure to do your research when looking for your perfect space!
2. Wedding Size
The size of your wedding will also influence where you can have it. Venues always have a maximum capacity, so it’s good to know your approximate guest list number before searching for venues. You don’t want to find a dream venue and then realize all your guests won’t be able to fit.
Creating a wedding budget is the most essential part of your wedding. You have to know what you can afford to spend and where you’re going to allocate your budget. Once you have your total wedding budget figured out, you can decide how much you’re comfortable spending on your wedding venue.
Each venue is different when it comes to what’s included in the wedding package. If your venue is a restaurant or vineyard, food and drink is likely included in the package, whereas at other venues, you’ll have to get it catered.
Find out the wedding cost estimate for the venues you’re looking into, then create an estimate for everything else you have to pay for- photographer, wedding planner, music, florals, decor, etc. This will give you a good idea for what venues will fit your budget.
4. Find Out What’s Included (and What You’ll Have to Bring In)
Adding on to the last point, you’ll want to find out everything that’s included in the venues you’re looking at and what you’ll have to bring in yourself. Consider everything from tables, chairs and dish ware, to lighting, decor and food. Figure out what you’ll have to bring in and how much everything will cost when added onto the venue cost itself.
5. Think About Your Vision/Theme
Your venue should perfectly convey your vision/theme. If you want a romantic boho wedding, a vineyard or beach would be a better venue than a historic hotel. When your guests walk into your wedding venue, you want them to see and feel your vision right away.
Your venue sets the tone for your entire wedding. Along with your decor, it highlights your personality and the whole theme of your wedding.
6. Does Season Matter?
Have you always wanted a whimsical, winter wedding? Or do you dream of an outdoor wedding in the midst of summer? The season you want to get married in can definitely influence your venue. Some venues have beautiful outdoor spaces that should be taken advantage of in the warmer months, while other venues are indoors, and it doesn’t really matter what time of year you get married there.
If you’re not stuck on a season, the venue might influence the time of year you get married. For instance, if you fall in love with a gorgeous vineyard that has a beautiful tented space for weddings, you’ll have to have your wedding during one of the warmer months.
7. Look on Social Media and Online
If you don’t know where to start when looking for a wedding venue, head to social media and online wedding blogs and websites. There are likely venues you have no idea even exist. Do a search for wedding venues in the city/location you want to get married and you’re sure to find a myriad of great options!
8. Reach Out and Ask Questions
When you’ve found a few venues that match your vision, don’t be shy to reach out and ask questions. We listed a bunch of questions up above on what to ask at a wedding venue, so feel free to use those and ask anything else that comes to mind.
9. Visit Your Favourites
Once you’ve asked your questions and hopefully have been given a wedding package to look over, take a visit to your favourite wedding venues. You can see how the space feels in person, and get a feel for how the wedding set up will work (where will the ceremony be, where will the cocktail hour be, where will people eat dinner, where’s the dance floor, is there a bridal suite, etc.).
Visiting venues in person is so essential. It’s kind of like buying a house- when you step inside, you know if it’s the right place for you. You’ll get that “feeling” in your gut that will tell you it’s the one!
If you’re planning your wedding, finding a venue is the first step before everything falls into place! I hope you enjoyed these tips and they help you on your journey to finding your dream wedding venue! If you have any questions, feel free to drop them in the comment section below!
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