It’s been one month since our engagement and Brandon and I are on the hunt for a wedding venue. We’ve been going through all the wedding websites, scrolling through photos on Instagram, and clicking through galleries. We’ve been balancing work, travel, and wedding venue shopping – so these past few weeks have felt like a whirlwind.
We’ve narrowed down our top 2 venues and we’re hoping to make a decision this week! As we’ve been wedding venue shopping, we’ve learned what is and isn’t important to us for a venue. So today I wanted to share a few tips to help you find your wedding venue.
9 Things to Do Before You Say Yes to Your Wedding Venue
1. Set Your Budget
Before you start researching places, you and your partner should sit down and talk through your budget. How much are you two willing to spend for a wedding venue? How much are you willing to spend on catering, alcohol, cake, and rentals?
As we’ve researched and visited venues, we’ve learned that some venues include the price of linens, tables, and chairs while others don’t. We’ve seen venues between $3,000-$20,000+ just to rent the venue alone.
2. Select Your Priorities for Your Wedding Venue
After you’ve figured out your budget, I recommended selecting your priorities for your wedding venue. What is most important for you and your partner?
- Is it most important to have an indoor and outdoor space?
- Do you want the scenic place next to the water? Or next to the woods?
- Do you want a venue that is all inclusive? (provides food, alcohol, and linens)
- Is it most important to have a wedding venue close to your family’s home?
Figuring out your priorities will help you figure out what type of venues to visit in person. If you want a venue that allows you to bring in your own bartender and catering, you probably don’t want to visit places that are all inclusive. If you want a wedding venue that’s within an hour from your family’s home, you probably won’t visit any places that are beyond that hour driving distance.
For instance, Brandon and I really wanted an indoor/outdoor space because we’re looking to get married in fall 2020. You have to have a covered or indoor option in the Seattle area – especially during fall.
3. Keep Your Wedding Aesthetic In Mind
To be honest, selecting a wedding aesthetic could be a blog post on it’s own. But I recommend starting with the season you want to get married in to help you determine colors and an overall aesthetic. I also recommend thinking about whether you want an outdoor, indoor, or both an outdoor/indoor wedding.
Here are a few aesthetics I’ve seen on Pinterest that could help you determine your wedding venue:
- Art Deco (Great Gatsby vibes)
You can check out Brides.com on Wedding Themes/Aesthetics for more ideas. If you’re looking to have a tropical themed wedding, you’re probably looking at wedding venues near the beach or ocean. If you’re looking for a rustic, vintage vibe, you might be looking at converted barns and farm houses like me.
4. Think About Your Estimated Guest List
After you get engaged, I would recommend sitting down and discussing the size of your desired wedding party and guest list. An intimate wedding of 50 verses a wedding of 500 can help you decide what type of venue you need to book.
There were a few wedding venues on my list I was initially so excited about. But they quickly fell off my list when I learned that they only accommodated up to 100 guests.
5. Inquire About Available Dates
You’ve selected your budget, you have an aesthetic, and you know what your main priorities are for a venue – so what’s next? I would recommend emailing the wedding venue and asking what available dates they have in your desired time frame or specific date.
Most wedding venues book up between 12-18 months ahead of time. While some couples have a specific date in mind, some couples (like me and Brandon) had a time frame and a season. Brandon and I wanted to get married in early fall of 2020. We weren’t picky about the date (because our priorities were looking for both an indoor/outdoor space), and instead we are open to September and October dates.
6. Think About Your Guest Experience
One priority for our wedding next year is to ensure our guests have fun at the wedding. We want them to celebrate with us so creating a great guest experience is one of the factors that helped us decide what type of venues we wanted to visit.
Location: Is it important for the wedding venue to be located locally? Or are you wanting your guest to travel with you two for a getaway experience?
Transportation: Is it important for the wedding or reception venue to be close to the hotel or lodging? Do you want your guest to be able to take public transportation, Uber or Lyfts to the venue? Or do you want the venue to be walkable?
Lodging: Do you want the venue to be close to a major city or town so your guests have hotel, Airbnb, or VRBO options? Or if you’re getting married at a hotel, do you want your guest to stay at the hotel?
I attended a wedding at a Moran State Park on Orcas Island once. And bride and groom’s families rented out a whole campgrounds and cabins for the guest to stay at overnight. My friends and I brought our sleeping bags for the bunk beds. It was so much fun to celebrate with the wedding guests and then just walk to our cabins at the end of the night.
7. Consider Food & Alcohol
One thing I didn’t know about before we started looking at wedding venues is that some places don’t allow hard liquor. Some places only allow beer, wine, and champagne. If you were looking to do a signature cocktail or open bar, you should definitely ask the wedding venue what their rules and restrictions are for alcohol.
Another thing to consider is catering and food for your wedding. Some wedding venues have a list of preferred caterers they’d like you to choose from. Some wedding venues require you to use their kitchen to cater your wedding.
8. Consider Parking
If you’re having a wedding in the middle of the city, where are your guest going to park? Are you going to have your guest pay for parking?
If you’re looking to have a large wedding party, are the wedding venues you’re looking at equipped with enough parking spaces?
I personally didn’t think about parking until we pulled up to our very first wedding venue visit. The owner of the venue showed us the gravel parking lot where the catering company and vendors could park to bring in the food, decorations and flowers. And she also showed us where the guests could park in a separate gravel lot.
9. Think About Privacy
If you’re booking out a wedding venue, are you wanting the entire venue to your wedding that day?
There are some wedding venues that will host two weddings in one day but at different parts of the property.
If you book a location at a public space (library, state or national park, hotel, etc), you might get a random person or two stumbling upon your wedding ceremony or reception. Are you okay with that or do you want your wedding event to be 100% private?
There you have it friends! 9 tips to help you pick out your wedding venue.
What other tips do you have for couples looking for a wedding venue?
If you missed our proposal story, you can check out: How He Asked: Brandon & Emma’s Proposal Story.
Thank you for reading!