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Looking For a Venue? Here's a List of Things to Think About During Your Search

Photo by Morgan Newsom Photography

Finding the perfect wedding venue for your big day can take some time. You will need to discuss a few big pieces of information before you begin your search. We put together a key list of things to consider before you begin narrowing down your venue search and some questions to ask your venue as you decide if it is the right one for you.

Things to consider before you begin your search:

  • What is your budget for the wedding and how much are you willing to allocate to the venue?

  • Will you have your ceremony and reception in the same location?

  • Do you want an indoor or outdoor ceremony?

  • What is your expected guest count?

  • Narrow down a few dates, just in case your first pick is not available.

Questions to ask/consider during the venue meeting/tour:

  • How long is the booking for?

Some venues require quick turn arounds giving you access only the day of, and occasionally a few hours the day before for a rehearsal. Others will give you multiple days to allow time for set up and tear down.

  • If you want to hold an outdoor ceremony, is there a weather plan in the event of inclement weather?

Some venues are easily able to accommodate a rain plan, while others it is not so easy. If you choose a venue where it is not as easy, are you prepared to have a room flip between the ceremony and reception, or have the guests sit at their tables during the ceremony?

  • Is a caterer required and/or is there a list you can select from?

Some venues allow you to bring in your own food or allow your family to provide the food, but others require you to hire a caterer for insurance purposes. Many times, if a caterer is required the venue will provide a list of caterers they have worked with before, or who are on their approved list. If you have a certain caterer in mind, most venues will allow you to bring them in, but will just require a few pieces of information from the caterer.

  • Does the venue provide bar service, or are there regulations for who can provide the liquor/beer/wine?

Many venues have a liquor license and all alcohol must be bought solely through them. Some venues that do not have a liquor license allow you to bring your own alcohol or hire an outside vendor for bar services.

  • Is there an in-house wedding planner or coordinator?

There is a big difference between a wedding planner and a venue coordinator. A venue coordinator will usually be there the day of to ensure everything at the venue runs smoothly but is not someone who will help you plan your wedding. This is important when thinking about your needs during your planning process.

  • Can you bring in your own entertainment (i.e. pick your own DJ or band)?

  • Is there a noise limit in the area?

Depending on where the venue is located, there may be a noise ordinance that takes place during certain times, especially if the venue is within city limits.

  • Is the venue handicap friendly?

This is something to think about especially if you have elderly relatives with limited mobility. It is a legal requirement for public venues to provide disabled access, but it may be challenging depending on the terrain and restrictions if it's older building.

  • Is there an on-site place for the bridal party to get ready?

Some venues have specific bride and groom suites, whereas others do not, and you will have to find somewhere off-site to get ready. You will have to plan your schedule accordingly.

  • How many guests can the venue accommodate comfortably?

Sometimes the venue capacity is not always how many the venue can accommodate comfortably. You want to give your guests a good, memorable experience during your big day, and being tightly packed during your ceremony and reception is not always desirable. Plus you want to ensure you have enough space for everything you'd like to have at your wedding or if you have a large bridal party.

  • Are there any restrictions that apply to the building or site that may be a deal-breaker for you?

For example, many times the use of candles without being contained is not allowed (i.e. the taper candle trend), or actual flames are not allowed at all. Some venues have restrictions on the type of confetti you can use, bubbles, sparklers, cold sparks, etc.

When booking the venue:

  • What is included in the price, and are there any additional charges or add-ons?

  • How much is the deposit and when is the full balance due?

  • Do you need wedding liability insurance or is that something the venue covers?

If so, do they have a recommended representative or website? Some venues have this taken care of in their insurance policies, while others will require you to get special event insurance. If this is the case ask them if they have a recommendation on where to obtain the insurance from.

There are so many more questions you may have for the venue during your search, but this is just a starting point of some of the things you should be thinking about along the way. As always, if you have more questions about this post, feel free to email me!

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