Unless you’ve always known the location(s) you’re going to get married and host your reception, finding a wedding venue can be a tedious and stressful task.
Before you start looking, it’s important to ask yourself a few key questions so you know the types of venues you should be checking out:
- What’s my budget? And how much of that can I afford to spend on venue(s)? I recently wrote a budget post that can help you figure this out.
- How many people am I inviting? After all, if you know you’re inviting 300 people, you can’t choose a quaint bed & breakfast that only holds 75.
- Do I want to have the ceremony and reception in different places or choose an all-in-one venue? Michael and I chose to do ours in the same place so we didn’t have to spend money on transportation from venue to venue.
Once you have these key deciding factors figured out, you’ll be able to schedule appointments with venues that suit your specific needs. Of course, there are tons of places you can have a wedding and/or reception. There are the obvious banquet hall type options, but there are also some venues you may not have thought of:
- Art Gallery
- Bed & Breakfast
- Botanical Garden
- Community Center
- Country Club
- Historic Home
- Night Club
- Restored Building (Michael & I are tying the knot at a restored train station)
- Ski Lodge
- Theme Park
And once you look at a few venues and narrow down your list to your favorites, there are many other items you should be asking about, including:
- Catering. Is it done in-house? If so, is the food good? What are your options and cost per plate? Is there a minimum purchase? Or can you choose your own caterer? Do you have to choose from a list of approved caterers?
- Staff. Do they provide servers, bartenders, etc? If so, what’s the cost? Is tip built in already?
- Tables, Chairs & Linens. Do they provide these? If so, are they included in the venue fee or is it an additional cost? If you have to rent these from an outside vendor, be sure to include that cost in your budgeting.
- Alcohol. Does the venue have a liquor license? Can you bring your own alcohol to save money?
- Decor. Are there limitations on decor? Are you allowed to have candles or other open flame? Are there specific clean-up fees for certain things (sparklers, rose petals, etc.)?
- Payment. What’s the payment schedule? Is there a cancellation policy? Are there any other hidden costs? What exactly is included in the cost?
- Weather. If its an outdoor location, do they have a backup plan for rain or other inclement weather? Is there a place you can put up a tent?
- Parking. Is ample parking available? Is it free? Is there a close place for elderly guests to park?
- Rehearsal. Are you able to use the venue the night before? Is it included in the cost? How long do you have it for? You’ll typically need an hour.
Where are you thinking of having your wedding?
*Image from Holger Thoss Photography.