How to Choose Your Wedding Venue

Your wedding venue is more than just a place to let your wedding vision play out.

Much more.

Next to choosing your wedding colors, it’s the biggest single decision you have to make, and helps dictate what your wedding vision can and should be.

Here’s why it’s so important. And how to get it right.

Three of the big questions for pretty much anything are: When? Where? And Why?

The Why? part should be easy — at least we hope so! The When? is the big one, of course, and the Where? is equally important.

And if you’ve been reading our blogs series: Big Day BasicsWedding FlowersWedding ColorsWedding Themes, and Wedding Photography, you’ll be aware of how various elements contribute to the mood, ambiance, and, of course, theme of your big day.

And how one choice either complements or clashes with the other.

One of the big “chick and egg” questions, from a logistical point of view, is the classic:

Do I choose my wedding venue now? Or do I confirm my guest list?

So we’re advising you to go with the latter! Have a highly educated estimate of your guest list before you book your venue!

This is always worthwhile.

Also think about the season your wedding is being planned for. And whether your event will take place during the day or the evening.

Priorities, Practicalities, Perfection

Every question you ask has important implications. And a lot of this depends on what your priorities are from the start.

Some might ask: “What’s the best venue to host a massive, Harry Potter themed event?” Some may wish for an aquarium wedding venue. While others may simply ask: “Is there a wedding venue near me?”

Whatever your priorities may be at the outset, you should ask to see images of the venue hosting events during your season, not some other season. And you may need to know what the lighting will be like for your evening’s entertainment, if that applies to you.

Asking to visit the venue at the time your event will take place is a good idea, although the season will need to be taken into consideration.

More on these questions in our lists below.

We also highlight transportation considerations in our lists, to encourage positive thinking about your guests’ overall experience.

Choosing a wedding venue that will essentially act as a blank slate upon which your vision can be painted is a difficult and potentially very expensive option.

These types of venues include:

  • Tents
  • Lofts
  • Converted warehouses

These spaces do tend to allow you creative freedom, but at a price. Tents, for example, present an air of naturalness and simplicity, but the logistics of the setup is often anything but.

Think about:

  • Bathroom rentals
  • Generators
  • A/C or heating
  • Flooring (ouch!)
  • Vendors
  • Caterer’s kitchen tent

Lofts and warehouses often come with their own lists of problems and possible restrictions.

Including hours, noise-levels, and more.

However, in most cases, your venue will come with its own look, feel, and character, and your vision must work with that.

See the Venues, Hues, and You section of our Wedding Colors post for advice on how to make your vision and your venue match.

Questions to ask wedding venue providers are numerous, and a lot of thinking needs to go into it before contact is made.

Happily, that’s why we’re here!

Big Picture, Small Details

You did great either asking or answering The Big Question! So now it’s time to think of all the little questions that need to be asked and answered to ensure your day goes your way.

Here’s a quick reprise of some of the things you need to keep top of mind from our Big Day Basics post, with some important additions.

Aside from the basics, like location, wedding venue type, and rates, ask yourself:

  • What is the availability of the venue? (Confirm that!)
  • How many weddings are held there in a single day?
  • Does the venue cater to all seasons?
  • Does that outdoor space come with a sheltered place?
  • Does the venue cater to guests who may need special accommodations?
  • Is there air conditioning/heat?
  • Is the venue full service?
  • What is the capacity of the venue?
  • What the lighting like in the evening?
  • Are there any planned changes to the venue before my date?
  • Are there restrictions of any kind that could affect your event?
  • Is there an in-house caterer? (Or restrictions on catering?)
  • What items come with the venue? What can/cannot be changed?
  • What transport considerations for guests are covered by the venue, if any?
  • Which venue representatives will be there to help on the day?

If you think it’s terrible that such cold logistics can affect your beautiful vision, we agree completely!

But be brave and ask these tough questions. And don’t sign up yet!

Now take a good look at the place, take photos, or check out the venue website pictures.

Visions and Decisions

Consider what you’re seeing and compare with your own wedding colors, style, and wedding theme ideas. Consider your budget in terms of the big picture and don’t underestimate anything!

Of course, budget-friendly and even free wedding venue ideas can always be found online!

Compare and contrast options.

A full service wedding venue is likely to be more expensive, providing everything from catering supplies, to linens, to table and chair rentals, but you should also talk to rental people and check out the numbers before deciding on the supposedly “cheaper” option.

If you want to book all your own vendors, make sure to ask if the venue has its own required vendors — rental companies, caterers, event designers.

Which would take away your freedom to shop around.

Does one work out more expensive, but is a much better fit with your style and wedding theme? Discuss with your partner — gently and persuasively!

Then speak with your florist.

Speak with your florist in all cases, but especially if you’re feeling obliged to take the option that is less suited to your style and wedding theme.

There are ways and means to make it work beautifully, and your florist can help.

Few things are as important as keeping the creative conversation flowing with your florist. But in this case, asking the above questions to the (potential) venue provider(s) is important.

If you talk to more than one person, take note of any discrepancies between what one person says and what another person says.

Then ask for confirmation in writing. Don’t be shy — it’s your day!

And even if you are shy, people love a blushing bride, so ask anyway!

Remember — anybody who isn’t happy to help is wrong for you. Move on.

Take a good look at the lists above. Write them down, print them out, or memorize them!

A small effort now will help things fall perfectly into place:

The right time. The right place. The right people.

Now that’s something to celebrate!