Finding the perfect wedding venue is the crucial piece of the puzzle that helps bring all your ideas together. It’s easy to fall in love at first sight, but make sure your head rules your heart with proper and thorough research. This will be your biggest wedding expenditure, so you can never ask too many questions! But what exactly should you look for in a venue?
Here are a few helpful hints:
Make sure the room is large enough to accommodate all of your guests. The space may look huge when it’s empty, but the venue may not be as expansive after all of the wedding essentials (tables, chairs, food stations, dance floor, music setup, etc.) are in place. Even if you choose an outdoor location, you’ll need sufficient room on the lawn, lake, arboretum, or poolside. Do NOT just rely on the venue’s photography to assess size. The best way to assess the size of a site is to ask if you can take a peek of the space when another wedding of equivalent guest list size is all set up. If you already have a favorite spot in mind, then you can always work backward and tailor your guest list to match.
Eat, Drink & Be Merry
The venue should have logical areas where guests can eat, drink, talk, and dance. When you visit the place, envision where each activity would happen. If you can’t separate each section accordingly, the place is probably too small. Oddly shaped room configurations, such as an S or an L, could affect your party’s flow also. You should also take note of columns or other obstructions in the room, because they may block people’s views of important areas (stage, cake table, wedding party, etc.
Some couples value privacy more than others, and some places offer more privacy than other places. If you’re holding your wedding at a public site (park, beach, library), then be prepared for strangers to walk through. If you prefer more privacy, opt for a lawn on a private estate. Or, check if the public venue can be closed off that day (guests only).
Be sure to ask about security at the site to keep wedding crashers away. Just because you’re indoors, you’re not safe from uninvited guests. Banquet halls and hotels often hold more than one event simultaneously. Also, the noise level from these other events may interrupt your wedding. If possible, visit the venue on a night where there are dual parties to see how sound carriers.
Lighting sets the mood of any site. If you’re marrying during the day, make sure the venue has many windows. No one wants to spend a sunny day in a dark room. If you’re marrying in the evening, make sure that room isn’t too dim. If you’re marrying outdoor, check to see if you can set up candles or torches or hang lights. Visit the site at the same time of day you’ve chosen for your wedding to see how it’ll look at that time.
What will your guests see when they walk into the room? Views are always a plus—your city skyline, rolling mountains, the crashing sea, or even gorgeous architecture. Other visual details also add to a breathtaking location: artwork on the walls, period furniture, crystal chandeliers, etc. will give the site something extra to talk about.
What is your theme or color palette? The site doesn’t have to have the exact colors as your planned decorations, but you want walls, carpets, chairs and curtains that don’t conflict with your theme.
Check if the place has enough electrical outlets. You’ll need enough for the entertainment crew, lighting, and maybe a photobooth. Maybe your guests will want to recharge their electronics so they can help capture your precious moments.
The site should be near a good parking lot, garage, or large street where it’s legal to park. While inadequate parking isn’t necessarily a deal breaker, it may mean spending more time and money figuring out another alternative, such as shuttle busses or vans. However, inadequate parking may also allow you o get fun and creative. For example, why not transport guests using hot air balloons?
Before signing and committing to anything, ask to see a full breakdown of all the costs in an itemized list that shows what is and isn’t included in the price. Also ask what happens to your money in case of cancellation, whether on your behalf or the venue’s. It’s also worth questioning about the venue’s recommended suppliers, as these may add to extra costs also.