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How to Choose the Perfect Wedding Venue

Choosing a venue is one of the most important aspects in the wedding planning process and it is one that you should do fairly early on. Many wedding venues can be booked out for a year or even longer, so it is key to reach out if you have one you absolutely love. Since the venue is the backdrop for your entire day it is important to finalize it before moving on to the rest of your wedding details.

Finding the perfect wedding venue is an adventure and not necessarily easy. There are so many options out there! Should it be hosted in an elegant barn or romantic garden? Perhaps a sophisticated ballroom or a classic cathedral or church? Finding your dream venue can be a bit of a process, so here is a little advice for finding the perfect place that is just right for you and your special day!

Enlist the help of a wedding planner

Talking with a planner before you even begin your search for the perfect venue will save you a lot of time. A seasoned planner will be much more familiar with the options available to you and will be able to recommend an event space based on your budget, style, guest count and other considerations. Your wedding planner will also likely have a relationship with the venue and will be able to facilitate meetings and establish communication between all parties.

Consider your budget

This involves more than just what you picture spending for your venue. You must take into consideration the "big picture". Venue pricing isn't necessarily cut and dry. Sometimes the venue will be all-inclusive and will provide many services in their pricing; however, often you will need to figure in whether or not you will need to use in-house catering, whether you will need to spend extra on rental services such as tables, chairs, and linens, or even items such as lighting or sound systems. A general rule to follow is to consider 15% of your wedding budget for the venue. Another consideration is to book "off-season" or on a weekday or Sunday in order to have your dream venue that will fit in your wedding budget.

Choose a venue that aligns with your theme

This might be stating the obvious, but it's super important to choose a venue that aligns with your vision. If you have a specific theme in mind for your special day, than you'll want a venue that helps set the tone. If you are planning a black-tie event than a ballroom or luxury hotel would suit your needs. If you would prefer something rustic, then a barn or outdoor space would work well. Perhaps you are thinking of something modern and edgy, in which case an art gallery or or warehouse would fit your vision. Choosing a venue that works with and enhances your theme will set the stage for your special day and allow everything else to fall into place.

Take into account your guest list

This isn't saying you need to have every guest confirmed, but having a general idea of who you will be inviting to attend will save you headache down the road. The last thing you want is to reserve a venue for 100 and end up with 150 attendees. You will want to ensure there is sufficient room for all your guests, the table arrangements and desired layout, AND for guests to comfortably be able to move around. However, you also don't want 50 people in a space meant for 200...that will feel empty and lack that intimate, close vibe. It is easy to underestimate how many people you will want to invite (or how many the parents think you should invite). It will be beneficial to sit down with your fiance and get input from each of your families in order to get the guest list started. This will also help to break down your budget as your guest count influences many aspects of the wedding, such as catering and rental needs.

Think about what is included

Some venue are considered all-inclusive; however, there are many that allow you to bring your own vendors and decor. All-inclusive options are your one stop shop and are perfect for the couple who would like to save time and effort. They often include many services and rentals such as tables, chairs, sound system, rental upgrades, catering, bar service, cake, and florals.

Venues that are more a la carte will require a little more time to do research into other vendors and require additional communication to bring together the perfect team for your big day. The benefit of this option is that there are endless possibilities and you can craft an amazing event with the perfect team of vendors who will work to make your vision a reality.

Deciding where you fall in this range from all-inclusive to DIY or somewhere in the middle really comes down to your vision and, taking into consideration how much time and effort you want to put into creating an unforgettable wedding. Each venue is unique, so take the time you need to get a good understanding of what each place offers, what other elements you will need to implement, and how it will fit into your specific vision.

Consider your vendor options

Say you are dying to work with a specific florist you have been following forever on Instagram. You book your venue, then realize that your contract states you must use their in-house florist. This is something you will need to take into consideration when selecting a venue. Venues fall into one of three categories:

  • Completely all inclusive, where they have a designated wedding planner, chef, baker, photographer florist, etc.

  • Inclusive with options: this venue will have a list of vendors that they work with and will allow you to choose what fits your taste within these options.

  • Let you take the reigns: this type of venue will be providing you with only the space for the ceremony/reception and all of the other vendors will be up to your discretion.

There is no right or wrong answer when it comes to which type you should choose. It all comes down to what will serve you best and work with your vision.

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