Selecting a venue is one of the first steps in the wedding planning process and, no doubt, it is one of the most important ones. There’s a lot to consider when choosing your venue. Is it within your budget? Does it match your theme? Will it accommodate all your guests? Aside from these very important criteria, there are other aspects you should keep in mind. This includes weather, transportation options, vendor flexibility, and overall comfort. You should also decide whether you want the ceremony and reception to take place in the same spot. These points are equally as important as the basics.
It’s a good idea to get a decent sense of what your wedding will look like, or what you want it to be, before putting down a deposit on a venue. So, if you’re determined to make your big day as perfect as possible, take the time to assess whether the venue is everything you expect it to be. Each type has its own pros and cons—here’s some popular options and their details.
Beach, Garden, and the Great Outdoors
Lots of couples prefer to have an outdoor wedding. They’re casual, romantic, and even likely to save you money on decor. However, there could be several downsides to choosing this type of venue. For starters, having only sand or grass as your flooring will limit what type of shoes you and your guests can wear. In some cases, long gowns might be a problem as well.
Weather is also a big factor, and not just if it starts to rain. Extreme heat or too much sun can make people less likely to want to party, too. For this reason, make sure that if you host a wedding outside, there is an indoor or sheltered space as well.
Barns and Cabins
Although popular for weddings, barns and other remote properties have similar downsides as outdoor locations. Pay attention to the floors, as some aren’t suitable for stilettos. And even though they’re indoors, such properties can get chilly. Depending on the area, electricity may be an issue too, which can be problematic if you have a complex music and lighting set up in mind.
A golf or country club is a smart alternative for the couple that wants a picturesque outdoor space as well as the comfort of an indoor venue. While they can get a bit pricey, it may be worth it since you won’t have to shell out cash on entertainment equipment or furniture rentals, and the food is likely to be superb.
Country clubs are also used to accommodating large groups so you won’t have to worry about trimming down your guest list if your budget isn’t a problem. At the same time, it may not be the best choice if you want privacy. It’s unlikely they will shut down the entire property just for you, so expect other people on the premises.
Mansion or Private Estate
There are endless options when it comes to renting a private estate—not just in terms of venues, but also in regards to what you can do at the venue. This is a fantastic option if you value privacy and want flexibility when it comes to your wedding. Even if you have a small affair, your big day is guaranteed to be unique and picturesque.
Before you book, ask about any restrictions on how loud or late the party can be. If the location is in a residential neighborhood, this might be an issue you’ll have to face. And keep in mind how easy it will be for guests to get there since most mansions aren’t exactly reachable by public transportation.
Discounts on drinks are one of the many benefits of having a wedding at a winery. However, you may not be allowed to have hard alcohol if the venue isn’t licensed for it. The other main benefit is you’ll likely save money on decor, as wineries are already gorgeous to begin with.
The downside, depending on the place, is that you might be limited on the number of guests. Wineries don’t typically have the space to accommodate large groups. In addition, they may be hard to get to if you don’t have a car.
Hotels are a popular choice for weddings because many already have a go-to caterer, florist, and even an entertainment source. Sometimes, these are suggestions, which will make your life easier. However, sometimes they’re also the only choice available. When looking at a hotel venue, ask what, if any, restrictions on vendors exist.
A hotel may be expensive in some cases, but it’ll likely be money well-spent. For starters, you won’t have to worry about parking, you’ll likely have a dedicated dressing room to comfortably get ready in, and decor might not be necessary. Sometimes, catering is even included in the base cost.
In addition, hotels often offer discounts for anyone who’s staying the night, so it’s a good idea if you have a lot of guests coming from out of town. Certain smaller boutique properties will also let you rent out the entire building for the festivities.
There’s no place like home, but unless you’re having a small gathering, it may not be the best place for a wedding. While you have complete control over what you do (although, like with any residence, noise restrictions may apply), it may mean a lot more work.
On one hand, you can save a lot of money just by skipping out on venue costs alone. However, you might have to spend that money on rentals. You might also consider additional bathroom facilities, just in case. Parking is also likely to be a problem if the place is not in a relatively remote location. It may be smart to hire a valet service or arrange for a shuttle to take people from a designated parking lot nearby.
Choosing a venue shouldn’t be a rushed decision, so visit a few options before settling on anything. Since you’ll likely want everyone to enjoy the party, consider both your and your guests’ comfort preferences. And once the place is booked, the rest of the excitement will begin!