6 Things to Look for in a Wedding Venue

A bride and groom walking outside at their wedding venue with an old building and river in the background.

The options for wedding venues are essentially endless these days, from grand to cozy, all-inclusive to DIY-friendly, and everything in between. But what are some specific things you should focus on when you’re trying to choose your venue? What are some factors to consider and good questions to ask as you’re making that big decision? Here’s what will be important for you to know as you move forward with your wedding venue choice.

Location

Of course, you’re already likely limiting your venue options based off of the general city or town where you’d like to get married, but it’s important to also consider other details about the venue location. Is it far from places for guests to stay? Will there be a lot of travel between the ceremony and the reception location? Is it located near or in a highly-populated or public area or is it more out-of-the-way? What will that mean for ease of travel? All of these are good things to think about as you’re looking at a location and trying to see if it might be right for your big day.

Availability

A wedding reception set up in a grassy area with lights strung across the lawn.

This next factor, of course, is bit of a no-brainer: you need to choose a venue that has availability for the date you’re getting married. However, depending on where you are in the wedding planning process, you may decide to choose the venue first and then base your wedding date choice off of the availability of that specific venue. If this is the case, make sure you ask about availability options and nail down a date as soon as possible so you can start moving forward with other choices. Also, it’s important to ask if you will be the only wedding on site that day; many venues, particularly large ones with lots of reception and ceremony spot options, may actually be hosting more than one wedding a weekend or even more than one a day. Make sure you check in with the coordinator at the venue to see how that works in their space and review any concerns you may have before moving forward.

What’s Included?

Is this a location that would include both your ceremony and reception sites? Are you looking for a venue that will be a package deal and take care of all of the details like catering, table settings, and the wedding cake for you? Or would you prefer a space that only includes the location, but will provide you a lot of flexibility to plan and personalize to your heart’s content? This is something that will likely make a massive difference to you and your partner, depending on what style and level of personalization you prefer for your wedding, so it’s extremely important that you get a good idea of what’s included in the fee for the venue.

Limitations

A bride and groom kissing in the doorway of a barn.

All venues have limitations of some kind, and it’s important to be aware of that as you visit each possibility. A major limitation for wedding venues is capacity; how many guests will you be able to host in the space? Do different places on the site have different capacity limitations? This is essential for you to know because it could have an impact on your guest list, so be sure to ask about space and capacity limitations as soon as possible to get a sense of the potential size options for your wedding. This would also be the right time to inquire about whether the location utilizes a vendor list, which is a list of specific vendors they prefer to use onsite. Some places just have a preferred or recommended list to help give you suggestions of folks to reach out to who’ve worked at and are familiar with the location. Others have a list of vendors they specifically use, and will limit your vendor choices to these options. Neither of these is better or worse than the other, but it’s good information to get when you’re meeting with representatives from the venue, in case you have specific vendors in mind that may or may not be on the approved list.

Organization

Another major factor to think about is how organized the location is, both spatially and logistically. Do they have a plan for parking in place and will it be enough to accommodate the number of guests you’re expecting? Do they have a place for you and your partner to get ready? What is their system for set-up and take-down? Do they seem organized and efficient? What’s the vibe you get on your tour? Hosting a wedding is a major event that includes many details you’re not going to want to think about when you’re in your dress on the big day, so it’s great to find a place that has suggestions and ideas mapped out for the logistical details that will inevitably come up.

Kind Staff

Your interactions with staff members on your tour can give you a good idea of how smoothly—or not!—the rest of the process will be with your venue. Even if you’re looking at a location where staff members aren’t on site for your wedding day itself, you will still need to coordinate with the venue staff for things like preparing before your arrival, arranging payment, and having someone to contact should you need assistance with a concern while you’re at the venue. The kindness and courtesy displayed on your venue tour should be relevant to think about as you’re making your decision.

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