Although almost every aspect of a wedding can be changed, such as wearing a suit rather than a gown, omitting the flowers, or forgoing the wedding cake altogether, one thing cannot be overlooked: the venue. You need somewhere for your family and friends to celebrate and gather.
It’s not easy to find the right venue. There are many choices, from a beautiful barn to an elegant ballroom to a peaceful restaurant or quiet beach. We asked some wedding planners for their top tips on finding the perfect venue.
Talk to a Planner first.
Yes, it is the first time you look at spaces. Alley Kline Weichelt, the chief planner at Sash & Bow, Green Bay, Wisconsin, says that planners better understand the space’s capabilities, layout, and the items and time needed to transform it. Your planner will be able to tell you if there is a way to make it special or something about the space that might make it difficult to achieve your vision.
Find a venue that aligns with your vision.
Kait Costanti is co-owner and creative chief of Bash in Bozeman. If you are looking for a modern wedding venue, consider art galleries, well-designed restaurants spaces, or warehouses. A wedding that incorporates natural elements is more popular with outdoor venues like parks, backyards and ranches. Your wedding will feel more connected to the space if it is located in a setting that complements (and enhances) your theme.
Know your guest list
Holly Patton Olsen is a wedding planner who owns Perfectly Posh Events in Seattle. “Knowing how many people you are expecting to invite will save you headaches down the line,” she says. If you select a too-small venue to accommodate your guest list, and you have more people RSVP “yes” than the space allows, it could be a difficult situation. It is common for couples to underestimate the number of people they invite or how many parents they invite. Have a conversation with your spouse early on to find out what you are working with.
Olsen states, “This will help you reduce your budget because some costs are dependent on how many people you invite.”
Keep Your Budget in Mind
Kline-Weichelt says that it’s not just about the cost of renting the space. In-house catering, such as hotels, will also be charged a per-plate price. The cost of decor and floral design will increase. You should know how much you can afford and what it will cost to create your design. If you find that adding the cost of space used to your budget is too much, then you will need to either reduce your design or search for more affordable options. Olsen says, “Break your overall budget down by category and prioritize vendors who are of higher priority.”
It isn’t easy to keep your budget in check when choosing your venue and then to realize it’s too expensive.
Are you unsure how prices are distributed in your area? Consult a local planner to get more precise information than the national online averages.
Take into account the experience of your guests.
Kline-Weichelt says, “If you’re inviting many out-of-town guests (or having a destination marriage), look for a venue near (or connected with) a hotel.” Remember their comfort in the venue. It is not common for a room to have a maximum capacity. Ask the venue what they allow and what is permitted by the fire code.
Consider What’s Included
Olsen says, “If you are looking at venues that offer full-service and those where you can bring your own vendors and decor to use, make sure you price everything.” A venue that includes tables, chairs, linens, and other amenities might be more expensive upfront than one where you have to rent your own. However, you can get an estimate from a rental agency to compare the prices once you add in the cost of renting them.
Remember that rental items include less basic white linens, flatware, and banquet chairs. You may pay more to rent items that are better suited to your vision. If you work with a venue with in-house catering that requires a minimum food and beverage order, make sure to add the tax and gratuity into your calculations. To account for sales tax in Seattle, which is 10%, I recommend my clients to add at least 30% to the minimum food and beverage order. This means that a minimum of $10,000 can be increased to $13,000.
Be True to You
Costanti says that many couples have chosen venues based on the design of a Pinterest wedding they found attractive. It’s important to consider what is most authentic for you as a couple and choose a space that reflects who you are. Remember that even though a venue may look beautiful with a different theme and design scheme, it might not be the right canvas for you.