Congratulations on your engagement! You’re wildly in love and ready to make it official. You already know that the choice of wedding venue sets the tone for your big day. It’s a decision that impacts the mood, timing, available vendors, and guest experience. And, to add to the pressure, the best locations start filling up 12 to 18 months in advance. Here are some helpful points to consider when searching for the right wedding venue for you.
1. Agree on the vision
Make time with your betrothed to discuss your visions for the event and be sure you’re on the same page. Will you hold the wedding in your current city of residence? Or do you want to get married in your hometown or on a distant tropical beach? Is it important to invite everyone you’ve ever known, or do you just want a few close friends and family members to be in attendance? Do you want a formal, gilded ballroom, or are you more comfortable with a casual outdoor setting? Once you agree on the high-level vision and guest count, you can start narrowing down the location options.
2. Set a budget (and stick to it)
Are you willing to go in to debt to put on the party of the century or would you rather keep your savings for a down payment on a home or to pay off student loans? Will you get help from family or are you paying for it yourselves? There are several budget tools, from apps to basic spreadsheets, depending on what you are comfortable with. Again, be sure you and your partner are in agreement on your fiscal priorities as this will set the tone for handling financial matters into the future.
3. Start early and be flexible
Now that you’ve determined your budget and that it will work with your wedding vision, start researching available venues. Give yourself plenty of time – a year or more is recommended. The best locations will be booked early, so you’ll have a much higher chance of securing your dream venue if you start ASAP and if you are flexible on the actual date. Many couples greatly narrow their venue options by deciding on a firm date prior to securing the space. Ask friends for recommendations and scour the internet, especially websites like marthastewartweddings.com, theknot.com, and brides.com for lists of wedding venues in your desired location.
4. Consider the entire experience
Visit your top 3 to 5 venues and ask a lot of questions. Is there catering on-site? If so, do you have to use it or are you allowed to bring in your own? Will out-of-town guests be staying at or near the venue? Is there enough parking for all of your guests? Is the venue the right size for your party (not too big, not too small)? Will you host activities before or after the event? Are there nearby activities for your guests to enjoy while they are in town for your event? Are there officiants, photographers, videographers, DJs or musicians, bakers, etc. near the venue or will you have to pay for them to travel? Evaluate how the venue’s wedding representative answers your questions. Do you feel confident that they will be on your side? Are you comfortable with how they addressed your concerns? You should listen to your instincts! If they don’t make you feel calm and confident during the initial visit, it will be difficult to feel that way during the actual event.
Once you’ve addressed these four main planning points, you’re ready to select your venue, put down your deposit and focus on the other hundreds of details that will make your wedding day special for you. Just remember to stay calm, keep breathing, and know that even if something goes awry, the main purpose of the wedding is to pledge your love for each other. You’re making the commitment to be in this together, and any wedding snafus should only serve to bring you closer together. Cheers to you, and cheers to love!