Picking a venue is possibly one of the most important decisions you will make when it comes to planning your wedding (except for picking your fiancé, that is). It’s generally recommended that you have your wedding venue booked at least nine months before your wedding. Don’t wait until the last second or else your selection will be severely limited. If you’re having trouble remembering all of the venue related logistics you need to figure out, ask yourself about the “who, what, when, and where.” Coming up with the answers to these questions will allow you to cross venues off your list and come up with the perfect wedding venue ASAP!
Your guests are a big factor in determining your venue. Sit down with your fiancé right away and map out your guest list. Based on a number of factors you will be able to come up with a ballpark number of how many guests will accept your invitation and actually show up on your big day. Don’t wait until you receive your RSVPs a month before the wedding!
Now that you have this number you will be able to determine what size venue you need. If you anticipate fifty people showing up, you probably won’t need a grand ballroom or a carnival-sized tent. And if you’re planning a 300 guest soirée, you won’t want to book a tiny church. Venues are very strict about how many people they can accommodate, so knowing your guest list will help you narrow down your search.
The “who” is also important in terms of your guest’s mobility and their location. Don’t pick a ceremony space that’s at the top of ten flights of stairs unless you want some of your less robust guests to watch you get married through binoculars! In addition, if the majority of your guests live around your hometowns, you might want to choose a venue that is close to the most amount of guests (for example, if you and your fiancé are living in New York City but your friends and families live in Los Angeles and San Francisco, consider having your wedding somewhere in the middle, such as Santa Barbara or Carmel. This will maximize the amount of people who will be able to attend!
Once you have the “who” down, you can move onto the “what.” What type of wedding do you want to have, and what special factors need to be taken into consideration when picking a venue? This will determine what type of venue you need to look for, and allow you to pinpoint whether you want a rustic location, an urban space, a church, a beach, a banquet hall, a romantic garden, a barn, a hotel, a forest, a castle, a museum, etc. Ask yourself these questions and make sure you write down the answers:
♦ Would you like a religious ceremony?
♦ Do you want an outdoor or indoor wedding?
♦ Do you want your pet of honor to be able to walk down the aisle?
♦ Do you want a destination wedding?
♦ Do you want a backyard wedding?
♦ Do you want to be allowed to bring in an outside caterer and/or bar?
♦ Do you want to boogey all night long without those pesky noise ordinances?
♦ Does a venue match your vision, i.e. all of the pictures on your Pinterest wedding page?
♦ Does the venue mesh with your envisioned color palette?
Now it’s time to pick your day! Everyone knows that Saturday is the most popular day for a wedding. Saturday gives you Friday night and Saturday morning to prepare, and afterwards you have all day Sunday to recover! Unfortunately, some popular venues can be booked on Saturdays for two years out! This is why figuring out your guest list and other special considerations early on is so important. If you can’t book your dream location for a Saturday, don’t worry. You can always choose a Friday or Sunday instead. Both days have their pros and cons:
♦Friday: This day is a great choice because you’ll have all weekend to regroup and relax, but you might have to take a day off to prepare, and many of your guests might not be able to make it because of work.
♦Sunday: If you get married on a Sunday you will have all weekend to prepare for your nuptials, but some guests prefer to relax on this day (and some might object for religious reasons). You and your guests might have to jump right back in to work on Monday as well.
After you have your day figured out, decide what time you want your wedding to be. Do you want a relaxed, sunny daytime brunch or do you want a rollicking nighttime party? This is an easy decision for most people!
Now that you know the who’s, what’s, and when’s, you can finally pick out the where! To actually find a venue, consider using websites such as Here Comes the Guide and Wedding Wire that offer information on numerous venues across the United States and beyond. Simply type in your location and many of the nearby venues will pop up. So easy! Just pull out your list of “whos,” “whats,” and whens” and narrow down the search results.
These websites don’t show absolutely everything that’s available, so you might have to do some sleuthing on your own. Wedding blogs can be a great way to find an amazing venue (the most beautiful weddings make these blogs!), or you can find a great place by word of mouth. If you have a wedding planner, simply give them your parameters and let them figure out the “where!”
Once you have a list of potentials all you have to do is find out what weekends are available and set up an appointment to view the space. Keep in mind, however, that you might need to make minor sacrifices when looking for your venue. Some locations might be perfect except for one or two things, so don’t automatically rule these venues out: put them on a “maybe” list!
Because it’s your wedding of course!