Six Factors to Consider When Choosing a Venue

Katherine here again! This week, let’s delve into a fun, but sometimes research intensive part of the wedding planning process – choosing a venue.

There’s a number of different factors to think of when it comes to where you want to have your wedding – type, cost, capacity, location, layout, and style. So let’s break it all down!

Type. A great place to start is to figure out what sort of style you’re going for. Garden wedding? Historic house? Grand ballroom? This is where local wedding blogs came in handy when I was researching what types of venues were available to me. It was fast and easy to scroll through the pages to see the options in my local area. And while I loved the idea of an outdoor garden wedding, I knew I would be anxious every day until the wedding that it could rain, so I quickly decided an indoor wedding would be a better option for us.

Cost and Capacity. Once you have an initial list of venues with a style you like, there are two variables that will likely help you narrow down that list: cost and capacity. As I mentioned in my first post, you definitely want to figure out your wedding budget! From there, you’ll be able to better determine how much you should spend on a venue. Consider things like whether catering, chairs, tables, etc. are included or whether you’ll need to bring in outside vendors. Another potentially limiting factor is the capacity of your venue. If you plan on inviting 200 people, you want to make sure they’ll all fit! Also on that note, talk to the venue coordinator about the true capacity. The website may say that the venue can hold 150 people, but it may be more like 120-130 comfortably.

Location. Another factor to think about is the location. If you’re planning on having the wedding ceremony at a church and the reception somewhere else, think about the following questions: how far will your guests travel between the two? Do you need to provide transportation? Additionally, check to see what the parking options are around your venue. Do they have free parking? I got married in a busy part of DC, so I made sure to lay out parking, Uber, and public transit options for my guests. I also chose a hotel room block within easy walking distance from our venue.

Layout. Layout is most relevant if you’re doing the ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception all in one venue. Will the space need to be “flipped” after the ceremony, aka turned from the ceremony into the reception? And if so, does it require pipe and draping to hide any areas? Ask about any additional costs that might be required. Also ask the venue coordinator about how the flow of pre-ceremony to ceremony to cocktail hour to reception might work. As the bride, I wanted to be sure to be hidden away before the ceremony! Luckily, my venue had a second story library where the bridal party could hang out before the ceremony got started.

Style. Finally, you definitely want to make sure the venue fits your vibe and style. This is where visiting venues is so important because knowing if a venue is right for your wedding is really a gut decision. Are you going for a black tie wedding or a more rustic feel? You want to make sure it fits your vision. Think about whether it’s a blank slate, where you can go all out with decor, or if it’s beautiful all on its own. For me, I loved my venue in when I saw it in local wedding blogs, and when I saw it in person, I was bowled over. My husband loved it too, luckily! As the princess-loving woman that I am, I fell in love with its two story rotunda for the ceremony (then later, the dance floor!), the cozy library for cocktail hour, and the grand staircase which I walked down for my grand entrance (one of my favorite moments!). It totally fit our vibe and style, and was an easy decision.

Whew, that’s a lot to think about! While researching venues and coordinating visits can be time consuming, I think the venue really sets the tone for the whole wedding, so it’s worth the effort! Do you have a dream venue?

Katherine xo

Images by Alisandra Photography

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