Today we are going to tackle one of the most important wedding planning decisions an engaged couple has to make: picking a wedding venue! Choosing the place where you will ultimately join together as a couple (FOREVER!!) is a decision you should never take lightly when it comes to wedding planning because your wedding venue is going to be a place you remember for the rest of your life. Your wedding venue marks a huge step in your relationship and you want to make sure that your venue is the best choice for your love story, budget, and guest list. If you’re new here, I got engaged in November and every Wednesday from now until sometime in 2018, you can find a new wedding-related post! So far in this wedding series, we’ve already talked about what to do when you get engaged, setting your wedding budget, and figuring out your guest list so if you’re newly engaged (or even just in a relationship) save this post and check out a few of the others first!
Finding our wedding venue was almost a huge disaster. We looked at our first venue pretty much a week after getting engaged and because of that we really didn’t have a budget or any real idea of how much weddings cost in New York (and everywhere in general). Naturally, I fell in love with the first venue we looked at. Long story short, we didn’t book it right away because we didn’t have a budget and decided to look around at our options. Because the location where we wanted to get married is very specific, we were pretty limited on our wedding venue choices. I fell in love with the first venue so nothing we saw after that even came close to meeting the expectations set by it. While we ultimately ended up going with the first venue coming to the decision was definitely pretty stressful!
So how did we ultimately choose a wedding venue?
Research wedding venues in your area
The first thing you really need to do is to figure out how you’re going to organize all of the venue information. You are going to be bombarded with brochures and menu options when you start scheduling meetings with venues so make sure you’ve got your organization method down ahead of time. Also be ready to take detailed notes of all the things you talk about at each venue because that will help you make your final decision later on.
To start, you’re going to need to do some serious research. Once you and your fiance have discussed the type of wedding you want to have as well as your budget it’s time to start researching venues in the area and setting up appointments to meet with them. I mainly relied on The Knot and my own understanding of the area when searching for venues but to get a more broad picture of the types of venues available, a quick Google search might also be in order. You can also look at other social media platforms such as Instagram and Style Me Pretty (my personal fave) to get inspiration from real weddings. By searching via location, you may be able to find real-life examples of dream wedding venues right in your area!
Once you’ve done some initial research, sit down with your fiance and prioritize which venues you want to see first. Keep issues such as your budget and guest list in mind when you’re prioritizing venues to save yourself from any future heartbreak down the road. You don’t want to prioritize visiting a venue that isn’t going to support your guest list.
Think of questions before visiting a menu
Just like with your wedding guest list, there are a few key questions you want to know about each venue before you decide. I am terrible at coming up with questions on the spot so I always try to go into any type of meeting (wedding related or otherwise) with questions prepared. Knowing what questions to ask a potential wedding venue is crucial to know whether or not that wedding venue is going to be right for you.
Here are a few standard questions you should ask each venue:
- What is the minimum number of guests required?
- What is the maximum number of guests the venue can accommodate?
- What type of restrictions, if any, does the venue have (i.e. no sparkler send-off, no bird seed, etc.)
- Are you required to work with their preferred vendors?
- Is there in-house catering and, if so, are you required to use it?
These five questions should give you a general idea of what the venue requires and whether or not the venue is a good fit for what you have discussed with your fiance. During meetings with potential venues, always be sure to make note of anything you may have to compromise on if you were to have your wedding there.
Bonus tip: attending bridal shows hosted by wedding venues is a great way to scope out potential venues before scheduling a meeting.
Make a list of pros and cons
Once you and your fiance are satisfied that you’ve seen enough venues to make a decision, it’s time to make a pro and con list. You and your fiance should sit down and go over the notes you took and information provided by the venue and discuss your options. For Justin and I, this part was pretty easy. We knew we loved one venue but that it was going to push our overall budget a little bit. However, when we sat down and compared it to a second venue (after discussing some cost-saving options with the venue) we knew that the second venue just didn’t compare to the one we had our hearts set on. If you’re truly stuck between a couple different venues, however, making a pros and cons list and discussing it with your partner should help you to clearly see which venue is the right one to choose.
Here are a few more questions to ask yourself:
- Can we reach the venue’s minimum number of guests?
- Is the location easily accessible for out-of-town guests?
- Will we be sacrificing some other aspect of our wedding to use this venue?
- Does the venue reflect us as a couple?
Honestly, I believe that choosing a wedding venue is a lot like finding the person you’re going to marry: it just kind of happens! The hard part is sometimes justifying the costs of the one you fall in love with. However, I hope my post on how to choose a wedding venue really helps you to narrow down your venue search and focus on the real questions you need to answer before choosing your wedding venue!
For more tips on how to choose a wedding venue to check out my YouTube channel!