Your partner finally popped the question, and you can’t wait to start planning all of the festivities. But before you pick out a color scheme, figure out the perfect way to “propose” to your bridesmaids, and make a Pinterest board, the first thing you should do is figure out where you’re going to get married.
The venue is one of the most important decisions you’ll make about your wedding plans, and it sets the stage for the whole event. With so many options and truly unique spaces out there, it’s difficult to choose what’s best for the big day. Here are some things consider when picking out the place where you’ll finally say, “I do.”
Know Your Budget
This goes without saying when it comes to anything in your wedding, but it’s really crucial to know what your budget is for the venue so that you don’t overspend in the first stages of planning. Brides and grooms can expect to spend about 50 percent of the wedding budget on the entire ceremony. This figure typically includes the venue rental, chairs, and food. Once you have an exact number in your head for your entire wedding budget, it will be much easier to determine how much you can spend on the venue. Be sure to pay attention to whether the venue provides chairs, set up, and clean up, as well as whether there are any extra expenses that could be incurred on your end (such as securing a liquor license if your venue doesn’t already have one).
Estimate the Number of Guests
What do you envision when you picture your wedding? Do you want everyone from immediate family, elementary school classmates, and family friends who let you swim in their pools every summer to attend your nuptials? Or does the thought of having more than 10 people at your wedding make you feel queasy and nervous? Picking out a venue becomes a lot easier when you have a rough estimate of how many people will be attending your wedding. There’s no need for a huge dance floor if it’s only going to be an intimate affair. There’s also no way that 250 people can fit comfortably into a Victorian era home that’s been converted into a wedding chapel,so just be sure that your venue fits the crowd.
Keep the Seasons in Mind
Unless you live in Hawaii or Southern California where the weather is fairly predictable and mild, you’ll really have to keep the seasons in mind when you pick out your venue, especially if you plan to have any part of the celebration outside. If you want to have a winter wedding in a notoriously snowy and icy area, be sure that you don’t choose a remote location that would be difficult for guests to get to. And even though you may save a lot of money by having a southern outdoor ceremony in July, your guests may secretly be cursing you the whole time that they’re sweating and suffering.
Know What Ambiance You Want
Once you have taken stock of the important things like budgets, guest lists, and your venue’s fit with the weather, now you can start focusing on what you actually envision your wedding to be. When you start to look at venues (either in person or online), think about what kind of atmosphere you want to create at your ceremony and reception. Did you see yourself throwing the bouquet in a vintage hall, or did you want a completely modern hotel ballroom that is only an elevator ride away from the honeymoon suite? If you think you want a glamorous and glitzy affair, it might not make sense to get married at a rustic lodge or an old country club. Think about the vibe you want to have and what you want your guests to experience—whether it’s dancing outside under the moonlight with a few string lights in your parents’ backyard or being surrounded by contemporary artwork at your local museum.
Know Your Must-Haves (and Your Deal-Breakers)
Unless your wedding budget is through the roof, there are certain things that you may have to sacrifice when you’re planning. For example, even though it would be nice to have the plated dinner that the venue provides, if it doesn’t fit in your budget, you need to be sure you can bring in outside food. Many wedding venues have restrictions on using real candles. Is that a deal breaker for you, or are you okay with using flameless candles? You also need to think about whether you want or need a wedding coordinator from the venue present or if your family is okay to run things on their own. Do you need your venue to provide chairs and tables, or are you okay going with a third-party vendor? Ask if you can serve alcohol at your wedding and whether there is a corkage fee involved. Know what you must have in order to make you feel comfortable (with your budget and your stress level) to help you choose your venue.
Know That No Space is Ever Perfect
Though it’s important to stick to the budget and make sure everyone is going to fit, all the other little details like ambiance and services the venue provides are all going to come with their own set of little quirks. You’ll never be prepared for everything, but just know that any space you and your betrothed choose to get married at will be just perfect.