The wedding venue is one of the most important decisions you’ll make when it comes to planning your wedding. It is very common to book your wedding venue 12-18 months before your actual wedding date. This gives you lots of time to plan everything, but it’s also makes it super important to book your venue first.
To help you find the venue that fits you and your wedding I’ve put together a list of five things to know and decide before you pick your wedding venue.
1. Know your budget
Budget is important and needs to be considered with every decision regarding your wedding. Since the venue is likely the first thing you’ll book, it’s key to keep budget in mind. It’s not good to start your planning process over budget; this leads to you having to cut other things to compensate for overspending on the venue.
You can estimate to spend 50% of your budget on the entire ceremony. This includes the venue rental as well as chairs and food. So, make sure you know if the venue provides chairs, set up and clean up as well as any other extra expenses there may be (i.e. liquor license if the venue doesn’t already have one).
The worst thing would be to fall in love with a venue, only to find out they’re way outside of your budget.
If budget is tight, consider having both the ceremony and your reception at one venue. You’ll save yourself in venue/site fees as well as transportation (instead of having to provide transportation between two sites).
2. Estimate your Number of Guests
When you have a rough number of guests it makes choosing the venue easier. If you have a lot of people on the guest list, you’ll need a venue that can accommodate a large number of people. Also make sure your venue fits your crowd. Just because you can fit a certain amount of people in a space, doesn’t mean you can fit them comfortably. Many venues also have minimum number of people required to book the venue at peak times so make sure you’re aware of this.
3. Keep the Seasons in Mind
As Canadians, we’re used to the various seasons Mother Nature brings us. This also needs to be considered when choosing a wedding venue, especially if you would like to enjoy the outdoors for all or part of your wedding. Also, if you’re having an outdoor wedding make sure your venue has a backup plan in case of bad weather.
Off season wedding dates will often mean a discounted rate which will help you to save on your budget.
4. Know what ambiance you want
This is where you can really envision the look and feel of what you want your wedding to be. Do you see yourself tossing your bouquet in a rustic, exposed beam barn, or more of a vintage inspired hall? Will you be dancing under strings of lights in your parent’s backyard or in a glamorous ballroom? Your venue helps to shape the ambiance and feel of your wedding. Historic homes will have ornate details with lots of character if you’re looking for a classic fairy tale wedding, whereas a barn will give you a beautiful rustic feel.
5. Know your must-haves (and your deal-breakers)
Unless you have an unlimited budget, there will be some things you’ll have to sacrifice on. It may be nice to have plated service, but if it’s not a must have (and could tip the budget) then maybe buffet style is more fitting. Find out how much time you’ll have for your party and when it needs to end. If you want to dance till dawn you’ll need a venue where you can do that. Know what you’re comfortable with and what is a must have for both your budget and your stress level to help choose your venue.
Consider the décor when evaluating the venue as well. Is it a naturally beautiful and impressive location or does it require extra decorations? When you’re looking at photos online they often show additional lighting and draping to decorate. Make sure you have room in the budget if that’s the look you desire otherwise be comfortable with the space as it is. (This is where visiting the venues in person will help you to envision your wedding day there.) Pay special attention to the lighting. If it’s dark it will make it more difficult for your photographer to capture all your wedding details. Lots of great light (natural light if possible) makes for more spectacular photos.
Once you have these five basics decided then you are ready to start finding your ideal venue. When you’re inquiring with different venues, check their availability first. This is especially important to do before visiting venues in person. Knowing this saves you time so you’re not going to visit a place, falling in love, and then finding they’re not available for the date or season you wanted. Unless you’re not set on a specific date, then feel free to fall in love again!
So, to recap…know your budget, your approximate guest list, what season you prefer, how you want your wedding to feel (ambiance), and know your must haves and deal breakers!
For all those planning on getting married in 2017 or 2018 that have their venues picked, feel free to share where you booked your venue, or your tips for others who are trying to pick their venue now.