wedding tips & ideas: how to select a wedding venue

The first big step with planning a wedding is to choose a venue. It goes without saying that every wedding venue is different and each has its limits in many ways. Selecting your venue will essentially create your to-do list for the entire event. How do you make this huge decision? No matter what you do, be sure to write a preliminary guest list to have a ballpark of how large (or small) of a space you need to be looking for to accommodate a wedding of your size. Need tips on writing a guest list? The Knot actually has an excellent guide for doing this- we found making an “A” list and a “B” list to be very helpful.


1- Will it hold at least 80% of the people you plan to invite?

We had a couple of friend tell us that about 20% of the people you invite will not be able to attend. We planned for this, even though in my head, I was like, “who wouldn’t come to a wedding if invited??” Whelp, turns out about 20% of the people you invite will have other plans, be too pregnant, can’t get out of work, can’t find childcare, or something else. This percentage was spot-on for us.

2- What is included with your rental fee?

Cheap spaces look tempting until you discover that you have to rent all the tables, chairs, etc. The more you know!

3- What service fees and taxes are involved with the space and/or service?

A not-very-fun hidden cost when budgeting- always ask if this is included because often, it’s not included in the quoted price.

4- Who would your point of contact be and how involved (or not involved) will they be with your wedding day?

For our wedding, there was a person in charge of booking weddings, but that is where the involvement stopped. As a photographer, I’ve seen wedding venue coordinators be as involved as practically walking the bride down the aisle! Involvement varies greatly and could be the difference between hiring your own coordinator or not.

5- What services do you need to use through the venue and what can you bring in yourself?

For us, it was very important to bring in our own alcohol and not be stuck with a caterer we only sort-of liked. On the flip-side, using the venue’s required vendors might be slightly more money, but WAY less stress; theoretically, these companies have worked the venue 100’s of times and have the schedule down pat.

6- How far away will guests be staying overnight to attend your wedding? Will it require rented transportation?

A personal pet-peeve of mine is folks who choose an amazing wedding venue, but the accommodations are a 45-minute bus-ride away. Nothing kills an after-party like guests passed out on a school bus back to the hotel bar! For real though, when it comes to cost, renting transportation is NOT cheap. Ride share companies and taxis can be helpful, but also aren’t abundant in all areas.

7- Where do couples normally take their wedding photos on the grounds? Do you like the look of the area?

If you haven’t done so already, google “{VENUE NAME} wedding photos” and see what past couples have done. Walk the grounds and look at the local area. If you only have one lasting souvenir from your wedding day, it’s likely your photos, so make sure you’re in love with the area. After booking, talk to your photographer in advance about your favorite spots- they may be inclined to recommend areas or visit the venue ahead of time to scout out the area.

8- Stay true to yourself- and by yourself, I mean you and your partner together.

I was recently talking to a friend who is looking at venues and they found one they both love and is within their budget. But, it’s not in the best town and he knows his mother will have a cow about that aspect. To that, I told him that in the end, his mother will only remember how amazing the day was and tell her friends how she had her doubts, but it all turned out okay. Why? Because this is exactly the way my own wedding turned out; my husband and I had a vision, but not everyone could “see” it until the actual day-of. Don’t let family drama, friends’ weird opinions, or the glitz and glamour of Pinterest distract you; there will be plenty of time battling that all throughout the wedding planning process. Stick to what’s important for just you and your partner!

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