From gardens and manors to ballrooms and barns, there are countless options for hosting your big day. It’s the one wedding essential — you can get married without a cake or a band, but there is no wedding without a great venue.
In addition to providing space for guests to celebrate, a venue also lends stylistic features to your wedding so you need to ensure that your chosen property aligns with your dream event. For example, a restored warehouse may not be the best choice for a luxury black-tie event whereas a beach resort would be the perfect setting for a tropical-themed celebration.
Your wedding venue is one of the first decisions you need to make, so you’ll want to refine your event vision early in the process. Here are four considerations to keep in mind as you start off your venue search.
Estimate your guest list
Venues must adhere to fire codes, so every property will have a maximum guest count. Before you start your venue search, you need to have a good idea of how many people will be at your wedding.
It doesn’t need to be exact, but you should go in with a ballpark estimate of how large your wedding venue must be. If you’re expecting 300 guests, the intimate restaurant that can accommodate 100 people is out of the picture.
Likewise, a grand ballroom for 500 would be too large for a short guest list of 75 people. Too much space feels empty and cold — not the vibe you want for your wedding. Find a venue that can accommodate a number close to your guest list so your big day feels full of love.
Stick to your budget
Even the most stunning venue is not worthwhile if it’s going to break your wedding bank. A stately mansion may be the dream, but it won’t feel special if you don’t have the room in your budget to fill it with beautiful florals and décor.
Booking a wedding venue that busts your budget also sets you up for a stressful planning process with every penny counted. Be reasonable and keep your wedding venue within your budget — then, tap into your creativity and find ways to personalize the space to suit your vision.
Know the package deals
A venue may be worth a heftier price tag if it comes with additional perks beyond the space rental. Perhaps it provides in-house catering, an onsite coordinator, or table and chair rentals for no added costs.
Do a bit of research to price out what you’re saving by booking a package deal — with the bonus consideration that it’s one less vendor you need to research, book, communicate, and pay. The saved time may already be enough to make the deal worth it.
Get a feel for the location
While you may not have considered guest accommodations yet, it’s something to keep in mind as you’re choosing a wedding venue. Your wedding should be easily accessible for your guests, especially if you plan to invite a lot of out-of-town guests or if you’re hosting a destination wedding.
Look for a wedding venue that has on-site accommodations or is close enough to a hotel. Some properties even offer shuttles within a certain radius, which makes transportation easy (and free) for guests to get to your wedding. Your guests will be thankful when they don’t have to worry about renting a car during their stay.
If you need help, your wedding planner is a great resource for finding a wedding venue. They should be very familiar with most of the local spaces, with ideas and inspiration from past events. Share your vision and your must-haves with them and see what they have in mind.