Choosing your wedding venue is the most important item you must decide early in the wedding planning process. The venue will set the mood, dictate your theme in many cases, and is one of the most expensive items on your budget. There are many things to keep in mind when selecting your wedding venue so here is a list of the 8 most valuable items to consider.
First and foremost, you must ask yourself if you can really afford the venue that is on your list. Don’t torture yourself and keep a $12,000 venue on your list when you can really only afford $4,000.
2. Your Venue’s Geographical Location
For many couples, it’s important that the location they select is easy for the majority of their guests to get to. Are you okay with needing to provide transportation for guests from a hotel to your remote venue? Does the centrally located venue allow for guests to get themselves there by walking or public transportation? Transportation can be a fairly big item on your budget if you’re bussing or shuttling people to and fro.
Do you know what kind of event you want? Will it be formal or informal? A traditional wedding or modern party? Will it be held at night or during the day? Indoors or outdoors? You want to try and figure out if the wedding venue fits your general vibe and the type of wedding you are hoping to have. For example, if you are looking for a more casual BBQ wedding, a historic, marble-laden banquet hall isn’t the best fit. Or a black tie event in a barn may not make your guests in stilettos and gowns very happy.
4. Guest Count
One important question to have yourself is: Does this venue’s capacity fit my estimated guest list? Like, really? Sometimes venues stretch what’s possible in order to make themselves more attractive to all couples. One way to discreetly figure this out is to ask at the site visit: “What number of guests is most successful in this space?” Just because you can fit 150 people into a room, doesn’t mean you should.
5. The Weather Factor
The weather can be a HUGE factor, especially if you’re planning to have part or all of your event outdoors. Celebrating under sunny skies is great, but when the heat rises or if there is an unwelcomed rain shower, watch out. A canopy or tables with umbrellas are essential for screening the sun. In fact, you should ask each facility manager about the sun’s direction and intensity with respect to the time of day and month your event will take place. Guests will be uncomfortable facing into the sun during a ceremony. If you’re arranging an outdoor party when the weather is less reliable and may turn cold or wet, prepare a backup plan: it’s a good idea to have access to an inside space or a tent.
6. Special Requirements
Sometimes, places have strict rules and regulations. If most of your guests smoke, then pick a location that doesn’t restrict smoking. If alcohol is going to be consumed, make sure it’s allowed and find out if bar service needs to be licensed. If dancing and a big band are critical, then limit yourself to those locations that can accommodate them and the accompanying noise levels. What time does the party have to end? Some venues have a strict curfew so you will want to check their closure time if you plan to party into the night. It’s essential that you identify the special factors that are important for your event before you sign the dotted line.\
7. Food and Alcohol Quality
Food and alcohol account for the greatest portion of an event’s budget; consequently, food and beverage selections are a big deal. Given the amount of money you will spend on this category alone, you should be concerned about the type, quantity and quality of what you eat and drink. If in-house catering is provided, we suggest you sample different menu options prior to paying a facility deposit.
Depending on the location, there may be parking considerations for your guests. You may want to add a note suggesting carpooling or mention that a shuttle service or valet parking is provided. If there’s a fee for parking, identify the anticipated cost per car and where the entry points are to the nearest parking lots. The last thing you want are surprised and annoyed guests who can’t find a place to park their car, or who are shocked at the $20–40 parking tab.
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