9 Things to Consider When Choosing a Wedding Venue

Next to your wedding dress, choosing a wedding venue is one of the more important – and most expensive – wedding decisions you will make. Here are a few things to consider before booking your wedding venue.

1. Budget

Dancing the night away doesn’t have to cost an arm and a leg. Simply start with a budget in mind and be open to options. For example, you can save money on multiple rental fees if you host your wedding and reception at the same place. (Keep in mind that a traditional religious ceremony may have to take place in a church; be sure to ask up front.) You also may want to consider getting married off-season. Many wedding venues offer discounts to brides and grooms who skip the summer reception.

2. Size

Make sure the venue’s size matches your guest list. A too-big venue means wasted space – and wasted money. On the flip side, a too-small venue will create overcrowding. Ask the event coordinator about the venue’s capacity number and aim to be just slightly under the capacity limit.

3. Style

Your wedding venue should match your personality. If you’re more traditional, go with a more traditional option, like a ballroom or reception hall. If you’re more creative, you may want to consider something out-of-the-box like the following:

    • A Bridge: Yes, you heard it right. The U.S. is filled with beautiful (and no-longer-in-service) wooden bridges set atop babbling brooks and lush lands. If you’re considering an outdoor celebration, why not make the most of these retired rustics? (Just make sure to call your city’s Division of Public Services for permission first.)
    • A Museum: Museums offer bold atriums and vast halls that can comfortably accommodate hundreds. Find a museum that matches your unique style, and check the museum’s website for details on rental policies.
    • A Vineyard: In addition to serving (you guessed it) great wine, vineyards offer beautiful vistas of rolling, grape-accented hills. They’re the perfect spot to make memories with your friends and family.
    • A Zoo: Lions, tigers and bears – oh, my! Zoos are a wonderfully unique place to celebrate your union. (As long as you don’t mind the occasional roar of a lion during the toast.) They’re naturally designed to offer open spaces, shade areas, and interesting conversations throughout the night.

4. Season

Just like style, you probably have a season that best matches your personality. If you and yours are free-spirited, consider an outdoor celebration during the late spring, early summer months. (Make sure to have an indoor back-up bad weather plan.) If you’re more traditional, consider an indoor winter wedding.

5. Food Quality

If your venue of choice provides in-house catering, sample their menu before paying the facility deposit. If you’re employing an off-site caterer, ask your venue to provide detailed information on how it handles food setup, presentation and service. You’ll also want to make sure your caterer can use the venue’s kitchen facilities.

6. Customer Service

Even the most perfect of places can be soured by bad service. If you’re skeptical about the venue’s response times, enthusiasm or customer service, trust your gut and move on to another venue.

7. Rules and Regulations

Venues have strict policies regarding alcohol, smoking and noise. If you want to serve alcohol at your reception, make sure your venue is licensed to serve. Also, make sure guests are aware of where they can and cannot smoke.

8. Accessibility

If seniors or individuals with disabilities are on your guest list, make sure your venue offers accommodations that meet their needs.

9. Fine Print

Don’t forget to get a confirmation of the cost, date, time and additional details in your final contract. Don’t sign your name on the dotted line until you fully understand what’s included and excluded.


Image by Sara Kauss Photography.