Nothing makes or breaks the vibe of a wedding than the venue. When chosen well and properly organized, the venue can either enhance the wedding experience or make it painfully awkward, or at the most, downright inconvenient. This is one of the most important decisions you will make for one of the most important days of your life. So, here are a few tips we’ve put together on how to pick a wedding venue.
1. Map out a budget. Yes, we’ve all heard this before, but we’re placing it first on the list because it’s a crucial factor. Make a list of the venues you are considering for your wedding, along with the corresponding rates. Remember to ask about what the rate covers. If they don’t provide a detailed breakdown (including services and number of hours), ask for one. Some venues can be pricey because they add in the use of additional facilities, such as the use of their own tables, chairs, or a sound system rental; whereas cheaper venues may require you to bring these yourself. If it costs to transport large numbers of furniture to the venue, the costs may balance themselves out for a venue that looks expensive initially.
2. Work with venues that are available on your date. It may be tempting to push for a venue that is unavailable on your chosen wedding date, but skip the stress and focus instead on those that are available for the week or month you want to get married. Some wedding venues book for months in advance, so there may be a waiting list of couples who are hoping to get bumped up in the schedule. One helpful tip we can give you is to keep your specific wedding date flexible, at least on the initial planning stages, so you have more choices to work with when considering a venue.
3. Location, location, location. Physical location matters! A few questions to consider would be: What kind of venue are you looking for—historic, outdoor, church, or beach? Are you having the wedding in the same place as the reception, or will these two be separate venues? If you are having the wedding ceremony at a different place from the reception (say, a small chapel overlooking the ocean for the ceremony, and a restaurant downtown for the reception), you’ll need to consider how your guests are going to get from one venue to the other, especially if there is a considerable distance between the two. You might need to arrange extra transport, or even shuttle services, to ensure that everyone gets to the next venue on time. You may also need to make considerations for the weather if the wedding will be held outdoors, and a backup plan when the weather chooses not to cooperate on that day.
3. Consider capacity and make allowances. How many people are you inviting? How many people can this venue hold? Remember to think about whether you are doing a sit-down dinner or a cocktail party, if you are inviting just close friends and family or if you are inviting everybody’s cousin twice removed and their grandmother. It helps to take your seating plan with you when you scope out the venue to do a visual check of the capacity. A visual check is crucial too; just because a hall can fit 300 people doesn’t mean the 300 people will be comfortable when you do so.
4. Consider your needs and whether the venue meets them. What vibe do you dream to have on your wedding day – Simple Bohemian? Classic Victorian? Contemporary? The venue will need to be set up and decorated accordingly. If you’re using one venue for both the ceremony and the reception, does the layout allow for two separate spaces for each of these parts? Or would it be possible to change the wedding area into the reception area immediately after the ceremony? Where do the bridge and groom stay before the procession begins? Will there be a place for people to dance? What helps is to visualize how your wedding will go, from beginning to end, and check whether the venue holds up the whole way through.
It might seem like a daunting process at first, but remember, it’s no joke to pick a wedding venue. You can look up potential wedding venues on the Internet, drive through your city and list prospects, or check for references from friends and family. Word of mouth is a good resource because you know the venue has been tried and tested by people you trust.
If you’re considering getting married in Las Vegas, check out our list of Las Vegas wedding venues here.