How to Choose a Wedding Venue

One of the first questions that will come to mind once you get engaged will be how to choose a wedding venue. This will be one of the biggest wedding decisions you’ll make, so it’s important to choose wisely. It’s true that it can be tricky but with our guide, we’ll make it much easier for you!
There are so many different types of venues, points to consider and questions to ask when you’re deciding which venue to go for. But if you have the basics in mind, such as your priorities, non-negotiables and vision, it will help you narrow down your choices. It also helps to ask professionals and other couples for their advice on navigating this essential part of the wedding planning process.

Below are our simple steps to help you find the perfect wedding venue to suit you. Here, you’ll find everything you need to know to make sure your dream day comes true!

Think About Your Vision

To begin with, you’ll need to have a vision in mind for what you want your special day to look like. So start pinning and saving! It’s best to decide on a style or theme before selecting venues so that you have a clear idea in mind. This includes the type of venue you would like as there are so many different types of venues to choose from. One of the main types is traditional venues, such as hotels, and country clubs. Then you have all-inclusive venues which are probably the easiest to organize as you’ll get a package deal for your ceremony and reception. If you’re considering a destination wedding, then the best place to start is on WedBoard where you can create a vision board of all your favorite venues and get matched directly to the ones that fit your style!

Remember, the venue you choose will set the tone for your day, so it has to align with your vision, style and aesthetic. For example, if you want a modern or elegant wedding, opt for refined spaces such as villas, museums or even historic castles (if you’re going for a destination wedding, of course!). Whereas if you want something rustic, go for a relative’s backyard, a barn or even a stunning Tuscan style venue. The space you choose needs to be authentic to you as a couple, after all the day is all about you!

Decide on Your Priorities

The most important element for how to choose a wedding venue is knowing what your priorities are. The most crucial factor is where your wedding will be, as this decision will affect everything else. Nowadays it can be anywhere you want, whether it’s an exotic location or a family home. You might have a list of top 3 locations for your dream wedding. But definitely have this decided before thinking about venues and losing time visiting properties in different locations.

This also leads to discussing whether your ceremony and reception will be in the same venue. Sometimes couples prefer to go with two venues, especially if one is religious. Another key factor is the date. Think about a range of dates that work for you, and your family and friends. Sometimes your dates might change if you fall in love with a venue, so make sure you’re flexible.

You’ll also need to know how many guests you expect to invite. Avoid picking a number from what you think might happen, as you could be overestimating or underestimating. Instead, sit down and write out a list so that there are no surprises. Venues are rarely flexible, and the last thing you want is to decide on a 100 guest venue, and then get 150 RSVPs back.

Finally, think about your total budget. This includes how much it costs to rent the space, in-house catering, decor, flowers, and other vendors you’ll need. Also, remember tax and gratuity charges. Your venue and catering will be about 50% of your overall wedding budget, so make sure to set a realistic budget and plan for any pitfalls.

Consider any Must-Haves

Venues will vary in what they offer so draw up a list of your non-negotiables. Think about features that are must-haves for you. This is an important point when figuring out how to choose a wedding venue that’s right for you. These could be practical things such as pet-friendly and child friendly. Or you might have some wish list ideas such as a cocktail space, a certain aesthetic, eco-friendly, live music, fireworks… the possibilities are endless! Also, on-site accommodation might be important for you. Especially if it’s an out-of-town or destination wedding in Italy.

Another non-negotiable could be privacy. This is usually the case for outdoor weddings or if you have any VIP guests. It’s useful to ask if the venue offers exclusive hire. You might even want a weekend hire to make the most of your celebration. Finally, if you’re choosing to have your ceremony and reception in the same venue, make sure to check if the property is licensed so that your ceremony is legally recognized.

wedding venue
Photography: Lost In Love Photography | Venue: Villa di Ulignano | Planning: Bianco Rosa Weddings | Catering: Gelateo Ricevimenti

Talk to a Wedding Planner

A wedding planner will be your best tool if you’re stuck on how to make your dream wedding come true. They’ll help you define your vision and know the best locations that fit this. As a professional, they’ll make sure to recommend spaces that stay true to your priorities and non-negotiables. Planners know how to work with different spaces, layouts, and timings. They can make a space as creative as you want to match your style. They’ll also set up visits and give you a preliminary rundown online of ones that fit your style. However, if you choose to plan a wedding on your own, we recommend booking a venue that has an onsite coordinator. They’ll make the planning process and your special day so much easier and hassle-free. But make sure you know exactly what their responsibilities are, as they may be limited.

Think About Your Guest Experience

One aspect you need to acknowledge when choosing a wedding venue is your guest experience. As well as being your special day, you want your guests to enjoy the celebration too. So think about what factors will make sure that they have an unforgettable day. Consider factors such as how many people the venue can fit comfortably. If you want an intimate experience, then be careful not to get a space that’s too big. You’ll end up spending money on making the venue cosy. Likewise, if you have a lot of guests, make sure that they don’t feel cramped and crowded. In this case, your guests will appreciate some open space such as lounge areas. Also think about what your guests will need in the space such as baby changing facilities, extra space for children, or wheelchairs.

wedding reception
Photography: Halo Wedding | Design & Planning: More than Weddings | Florals: Ottavia Bosco | Catering: Vainilla Catering

The Venue Package

You’ll also have to consider what is included when you rent the venue. This will affect what other vendors you’ll have to bring in. For example, some venues simply provide the space without furniture or any other essential decor. so you would have to look at renting tables, chairs, catering, bar staff etc…We recommend comparing a more complete venue package, with a minimal venue and other rental services. Sometimes although the former can seem more expensive at first, it turns out to be cheaper in the long run. So make sure to ask about these details that will help you choose your venue.

Venue Restrictions

Another useful tip for how to choose a wedding venue is to ask about venue restrictions. Different venues will have different rules and regulations. In certain locations, venues will have noise restrictions which means that there will be a curfew on the music played. Other important restrictions to consider include pets, children, live music, candles, and alcohol permits. More venue restrictions to think about are accessibility, lifts, bathrooms, parking, seating, and dance floor space. Also, consider how difficult is it to set up and pack up because some venues might have a strict timeline between events. Make sure that you are aware of these restrictions before signing a contract. If you forget to discuss these details, you might be in for a surprise on the day!

Venue Logistics

One of the key points in how to choose a wedding venue that makes sense for you is to figure out the logistics for the day as your venue will be a big part of this. Is your venue easy to get to? If you have out-of-town guests then they’ll need easy directions and guidance on what transport will be available. If you want to save on transport, then consider venues near public transport options, near an airport and near taxi services. If you have two venues, then plan for how your guests will travel seamlessly between the two. Also, consider parking. Is there enough space for your guests to park? Will your guests have to walk far from the parking to the venue? It’s important that your guests can travel to your venue easily and safely. Another key logistical aspect is accommodation. Check local hotels, to see if they have vacancies for your guests on the dates you need.

Back Up Plan

An important point that will help you select your wedding venue is the back-up plan. Although everyone hopes Plan A will work flawlessly, there might be times when you need a Plan B or even a Plan C. So, make sure to ask your venue if they have a back-up plan that is straightforward to execute. Specifically, if they have a plan for rain. The weather is unpredictable! So, ask if they have indoor and outdoor options, such as a tent that can be prepared easily. It also helps to look at the weather history in the area to have an idea of what options you’ll need.

wedding reception
Photography: Manisol Wedding | Venue: Villa Mosconi Bertani | Planning: DAG Wedding Planner – Dalila Azzurra Giordano | Florals: Monica Michelotto

Visit Several Venues

Our tip for how to choose a wedding venue that’s perfect for you is to visit several options. Even if you fall in love at first sight, it does help to compare options. Nowadays, venues offer virtual tours and video calls which makes it so much easier to narrow down your choice, but it’s always worth checking them out in person.

Create a shortlist of favorites that you want to visit. Then draw up a spreadsheet to track all of your venues, with comments so that you don’t forget anything. As you tour them, make sure you focus on the details. Also, see if you get on well with the venue staff as that will be a factor in making your decision. Once you’ve visited a few, consider the pros and cons. Discuss your options with your partner to make sure you’re on the same page. It helps to visit a venue more than once if you don’t agree.

Ask Questions

Make sure to ask questions, lots of them! You can even ask a few basic questions before committing to a viewing. When you call, mention your desired date, guest capacity and other priorities. Ask about how the day will flow, timings, any favorite vendors they’ve worked with and event staff experience. Don’t be afraid to request pricing too. If it’s not within your budget, it’s not worth visiting. Asking questions will also give you a sign of what the staff are like. Are they friendly and helpful? Or are they hard to communicate with? Don’t worry about the number of questions you have and no question is silly. It’s your special day so you need to be sure!

On that note, it can be useful to ask for advice from family and friends. You might want your maid of honor, best man or mother of the bride to visit your venue as well, to give you different perspectives. Also, we recommend finding examples of weddings at the venue on Instagram or Pinterest. This will give you an even better idea of what your day might be like.

Time to Sign

Once you’re ready to sign, make sure that you check everything over several times. Our tip is to read reviews from previous clients on well-respected sites to solidify your decision. You might find out interesting information from other couples. Confirm that everything you’ve discussed will be honored, especially if there are staffing changes. Finally, trust your gut! It’s important that you’re confident with the venue you choose, and that it makes you feel your happiest!

Now that you’ve got your venue sorted, it’s time to decide which vendors you’re going to choose. From your cake to your invitations and more, we can help you during the wedding planning process. Check out WedBoard for useful tips on all aspects of your special day, such as Wedding Centerpiece Ideas For Every Style, A Guide To Hiring a Destination Wedding Planner and How To Create A Wedding Website.

Featured image: Dreams Film

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