After dress shopping, one of the most fun parts of planning a wedding is visiting possible locations. It’s exciting to visit a space and dream about how you could stage your wedding there.
But don’t book venue visits for the weekend after you get engaged. There’s some preparation and planning you need to do before you choose which locations to visit and ultimately decide on a finalist. Make sure you know the answer to these 10 questions before you start visiting wedding venues.
How big is your guest list? You don’t have to be exact, but have a roundabout number of how many people you expect. You may love a space that accommodates 200 people, but it will never fit your 350-person guest list – even if a few people can’t come.
Know your budget. How much can you afford to spend on the venue? You can immediately eliminate from your list the places that are over budget. There’s no point in visiting and falling in love with a place that you could never afford. Also be aware of what is included in the cost of the venue rental; the cost to rent may be cheap, but you may have to bring in your own tent, tables, chairs, etc., which can drive the cost up.
What is your wedding style? Know your personal style so you can find a place that fits it. A formal wedding in a rustic barn? A casual wedding in a fancy ballroom? It doesn’t work. Know your theme (if you have one) and general wedding style before you choose a venue.
Where will your ceremony be? Do you need a venue that can host a ceremony, or will you marry elsewhere? If you’re marrying at a church, book your ceremony first because the church may only have certain times when you can schedule a ceremony.
Do you want an indoor or outdoor wedding? Some venues have indoor and outdoor options, and the capacity for each may vary. If you’re set on an outdoor wedding, what indoor options will you be happy with if the weather is bad?
Location, location, location. Your reception site should be close to your ceremony site and guests’ hotel accommodations.
When do you want to marry? Know when you want to marry and how attached you are to that date, month, or season. Would you be willing to change the date to get a venue you love?
How much flexibility do you want? Some venues rent their facilities for certain blocks of time because they host more than one wedding in a day. Do you want the ability to add time? Do you want to be the only wedding there that day? Other venues let you bring in your own vendors while some require you to use their vendors or work with a pre-approved list. Are you OK with that?
Do you need separate areas for different parts of the day? This goes back to your wedding vision. If you’re hosting everything at one location, do you want your ceremony in a separate area from your reception? Do you want the cocktail hour held somewhere different than dinner?
What will your guests need? If you’re expecting a lot of people to drive to your wedding, make sure there is ample parking. If you have handicapped or elderly guests, make sure the facility is accessible to them.