Deciding on a venue for your wedding might be the hardest part of planning a wedding. It seems like it would be easy, but in today’s wedding culture the sky is the limit and many non-traditional wedding venues have opened such as barns and tree farms. In fact, most weddings are now held not in churches but in private sector venues.
The main factors for determining your wedding venue are: cost/budget, location, convenience (parking, ADA compliance), ambiance and your personalities.
The options are vast ranging from warehouses and lofts to beaches and 5-star hotels. I help my clients narrow down their options by asking them how they envision their day. Are you outside? Inside? Riding into the ceremony on a horse drawn carriage? What are your favorite activities? Do you like the movies? Do you snow camp or mountain climb? Is your favorite thing going to the spa? Is your favorite place the beach or your parent’s backyard? Are you wine connoisseurs? Do you love sailing? Where did you first meet and what did you do for your first date? All of these things can narrow a couple’s vision down to who they are, how they want to represent themselves and how they want to celebrate their day with their friends and family. I am a true believer that people are most comfortable and will have more fun in a place they feel safe and that feels familiar. If you can choose such a place you will be more relaxed and have a much better experience.
Once you have your dream venue in mind it’s time to think about all of the other factors. If your venue is specific, like a hut on a mountain, you won’t have as many options. It’s time to test the venue.
Ask yourself the following questions to test your venue for the overall impact you are going for.
- Does it fit our budget?
- Does it include catering or can I pick my own caterer?
- Will I need additional rental items for this venue and do those things fit our budget?
- Is it convenient for all of our guests? Is it easy to find?
- Are there any limitations with the venue and do those limit what we want to do there?
- Does the capacity of the venue allow for all of my guests or will I have to limit our guest list?
- Is the ambiance what I really want for the ceremony and reception?
- Will I have to pick a separate ceremony and reception venue or is it all inclusive for both?
- Will they allow all of the vendors I would like to use?
- Do they have ample parking for our guests?
After you answer the questions, if the venue fails the test, look for other options that might be in the same type of category of venue. If the property your aunt said you could use won’t work, look into area venues like barns and farms that may work better and already have what you need on site. If you want a beach theme but don’t want to be on sand, maybe a yacht is the way to go.
Like finding a house, venue selection is like finding a safe place you can picture living. You will know it when you see it. Don’t just pick a place by the visual displays online. You need to go to the venue and take a tour, preferably at the same time of year you will be married. Ask for references from past couples. Do your research. If you are using a wedding planner, this is when you can utilize this person to get answers to your big questions before you go. Your wedding planner is also a great resource for already knowing what a venue includes in their packaging and the price you will pay for their services. Most wedding planners have toured multiple sites and have worked at dozens of locations and will know firsthand what it is like there.
If you need help planning your wedding we would love to be of assistance to you. Please email us at email@example.com. We would also be happy to discuss your plans by phone at (503) 522-7680. Happy Wedding Planning!
What is your favorite venue for a wedding? Do you think the venue is the most memorable thing about a wedding?