Top 20 Things to Look For in a Wedding Venue
Securing the right venue is one of the first — and most important – steps of planning a flawless wedding celebration. The backdrop of your precious first day of marriage, your wedding venue needs to be remarkable and unforgettable.
But what sort of traits should you look for when browsing your venue options?
Here’s a list of the 20 most crucial wedding venue factors you should consider before signing a contract:
1. The Cost!
More often than not, your budget is the most limiting factor when it comes to choosing the perfect wedding venue. Before you make the jump, spend some time considering how much you’re willing to spend on each part of your wedding — from the venue to the DJ to the food.
If you have a particular meaningful date in mind, start scoping out venues early. If plausible, try to be flexible with the date — you’ll have more options! It’s also a good idea to check historic temperatures around your chosen date before you lock it in.
3. Place For Ceremony AND Reception.
Some venues will only accommodate either your wedding ceremony OR your reception. If you want a seamless flow from wedding Part I to Part II, make sure your venue can accommodate both.
4. Weather Plan Options.
Dreaming of an outdoor wedding? You’ll need to consider the weather. Does the venue offer a covered outdoor alternative or backup indoor space? Make sure you like the look and feel even of the alternatives.
There’s nothing worse than picking your PERFECT venue only to realize you can’t fit all of your most beloved friends and family into the space. On the other hand, if your guest list is small, an oversized space will just make your reception feel empty.
For any wheelchair-bound guests or grandparents who are prone to falls and can’t walk long distances, accessibility is key. Making sure your venue is ADA accessible is the perfect way to show them how grateful you are that they came to celebrate your big day.
7. Overall Theme & Tone.
Of course, you actually have to LIKE the venue! Don’t try venue-shopping before you’ve already developed a vision of your dream wedding — theme, food, decorations, and all. Then, when you tour venues, imagine how everything will fall into place.
8. Parking & Transportation.
Depending on the venue, parking and transportation could be a nightmare! If you decide on a location in the middle of a bustling downtown area or far away from any hotel options, you’ll need to come up with a detailed parking or shuttle plan — or at least offer up transportation suggestions.
9. Attentiveness of Staff.
As you tour the venue, pay special attention to the staff and how they treat you and one another. Try to detect early on if communication or organization are going to be big issues. And avoid venues that try to charge you ridiculously for every single extra service.
10. Overnight Accommodations.
It’s always a good idea to scope out the area around each wedding venue. Is there a good hotel option close to the venue? Or better yet, does the venue offer overnight room and board?
Many couples cringe at the thought of sharing their wedding venue with other celebrating groups. But many of the most popular venues will book several events in one day. If you’re hoping for a private wedding environment, you’ll need to make sure you can reserve the entire space.
12. The Day-Of Timeline.
On a similar note, if the venue has back-to-back bookings, you may not have very long to decorate or clean up. To avoid unnecessary pre- and post-wedding stress, you should find a venue that will give you ample time to do what you need to do.
They’re essential! There is no getting around the need to have a decent bathroom set-up. Make sure there are plenty of ADA-accessible restrooms for your guests. And if an outdoor venue doesn’t come with a bathroom facility, make sure to work portable restrooms into your budget.
14. Vendor Options.
Many wedding venues strike up deals with caterers and other vendors, letting them provide vendor services for every venue event. This becomes a big problem if you are dead-set on particular vendors for your big day. If the venue does allow outside vendors, what resources are available for them? (For instance, is there a kitchen for the caterer?)
15. Changing Rooms.
Although a decently sized bathroom will do just fine for some couples, if you’re imagining a wedding hair and makeup prep photoshoot with your bridesmaids, you’ll need to make sure there’s enough space (and good lighting) to do so.
16. Alcohol Permissions.
Is it really a party if you can’t offer your guests something festive to drink? Make sure the venue has a valid alcohol service license. Then investigate the pricing and bar options — corkage or open bar?
17. Noise Restrictions.
If you and your guests are big party people, you’re going to want to check on the venue’s curfew and quiet hour restrictions. Nothing is more of a buzzkill than having to tell the DJ to turn down the volume or, even worse, end the celebration early.
18. Rehearsal Dinner Details.
When browsing venue options, couples often forget to ask about rehearsal dinner timing and accommodations. Ironing out all the wedding logistics is already going to be stressful enough — you’ll want to make sure your wedding’s key players have plenty of time to prepare.
19. Dance Floor Provided.
If your venue has a ballroom or built-in dance floor, you’re set! But for unconventional or outdoor wedding celebrations, you may have to be a little more creative. Many venues will provide makeshift outdoor dance floors, but in some cases, you’ll have to secure one from an outside vendor.
To get a stronger sense of the service and experience a wedding venue will provide, check out its online ratings and reviews. Odds are, you’ll find answers to questions you didn’t even think to ask!