How to Choose a Wedding Venue: The Complete Guide

14 mins read
How to Choose a Wedding Venue: The Complete Guide
January 29, 2024
14 mins read
Reviewed by: Marco Arrichiello
Event and Venue Stylist, Hiden Floral Design

Welcome to the wonderful world of wedding planning! We know that planning your special day can be both exciting and overwhelming. With so many elements to consider, it’s essential to stay organised and focused in order to find a wedding spot that captures the essence of your story. That’s why we’ve prepared a short guide that will help you tackle one of the most important aspects of your big day: choosing a wedding venue. 

So, whether you’re dreaming of a rustic barn, elegant ballroom, lush vineyard,  or romantic garden, let’s explore how to find a wedding venue that will make your special day truly unforgettable! 

A Guide to Choosing the Perfect Wedding Venue

What’s your Wedding Style? 

how to choose a wedding venue the complete guide
Boho, modern or something in between? Make sure to decide on your ideal wedding style before choosing a venue! | 1st Floor at The Elgin, London

First things first, take some time to envision your dream wedding. Do you want a small, intimate and romantic gathering or a major celebration with extended family from both sides? Do you want to celebrate in a stunning and traditional space or something more quirky, such as an art museum or a warehouse? Perhaps you’d like to have the ceremony and wedding party at two different locations? 

Try to write down all your expectations or create a wedding mood board that will help you tie all of your ideas into one coherent theme. And, of course, don’t forget to list all of your partner’s expectations as well! During this process, you should also set your priorities – maybe you’d like a venue with a huge dance floor or one with a stunning garden? The point of all this, is that having a certain vision in mind can help guide you to your final destination – selecting the perfect wedding venue for you and your partner. 

All of your decision-making will seem easier once you know what you want and expect. So make sure that’s the first thing you do.

Discuss Your Ideas with the Wedding Planner

Hiring a wedding planner isn’t necessary, but it can really make a difference when choosing a wedding space. Wedding planners are professionals with extensive experience, and they will immediately know if the venue that you seem to love will be the perfect one or if you should keep looking further. They will provide you with advice on which spaces are suitable for your budget, guest list, and preferences. And oftentimes, because of their huge networks, they can win you some attractive discounts on wedding elements such as decorations and vendors!  

If you have opted not to hire a wedding planner, make sure to inquire with potential venues about whether they provide a coordinator to
assist you on your special day. Venue coordinators are responsible for the day-to-day operations of their venue. They can ensure that everything is in place and ready to go for your wedding.

Venue coordinators may also manage vendors or other external contractors who provide services at their venue. Provide your venue coordinator with a clear list of your expectations for the event, including the setup and timeline to ensure your wedding day runs as smoothly as possible.

Venue coordinators can be valuable in helping you achieve your desired outcome.

Choose the Perfect Wedding Date

how to choose a wedding venue the complete guide
Most couples secure their venues 6 to 18 months in advance. | The Royal Oak, London

A wedding date plays a huge role in determining wedding venue options. 

If you want to tie the knot during the high season that falls anytime between June and October, be prepared to start searching as soon as you decide on the date. Why? Because this period is when wedding venues are in high demand, meaning that it could be  difficult to find one that both matches your budget and wedding vision. 

We generally recommend being flexible with the wedding date, so you can really find a gem that meets your expectations or even exceeds them once you browse venue listings on different dates! 

Decide on a Wedding Budget 

All too often, couples end up spending more than they originally planned because they do not understand how long the list of paid items can actually get. As they move through the planning process, their inner bride- and groomzillas come out, and they start wanting things they never thought they would. 

That’s why having a wedding budget is so important. You’ll be less likely to fall into the trap of reckless spending. 

To figure out the important numbers, talk with your partner and other contributors. Include the maximum price range that you can pay for the venue in your calculations t. Expect to spend about half your wedding budget on the venue and catering, and be sure to round up.

Having a certain number in mind will help you stay reasonable and more adamant about finding a space that has all the important features included at the price you can afford to pay. 

Make a Guest List

a rooftop venue in New York
Creating a guest list should be one of the first steps before choosing the wedding venue |Rooftop Terrace at Loft Story Events, New York

Repeat after us: I need to have a guest list ready before I start searching for the ideal venue! 

Even if it is a preliminary draft, this simple step will save you from unnecessary headaches and stress. When browsing the pictures of venues and visiting them, you’ll quickly know whether they will comfortably accommodate all your guests in the style you desire. 

No matter if you’re planning a huge celebration or an intimate party, you want to celebrate at a venue that is perfect for your number of guests.

For example: if you are planning on having 200 guests at your wedding, find a venue that has a maximum capacity of over 200 persons. Weddings are social events and require plenty of space for free movement to mingle and dance. You should also beware of the opposite extreme. If you hire a venue that holds 300 for a wedding of 50, your guests might feel like they are in a Mediaeval echo chamber, and the wedding party may feel lost in the space. 

Choose the Wedding Location

Knowing your favoured locations is also important during your venue search. If you plan on hiring private transport for all of your guests, then it might not be such an issue if you choose something more remote. 

However, if you’re looking to cut costs for your wedding, consider these tips:

  • Opt for the same venue for both the wedding ceremony and breakfast
  • Choose a venue that offers free parking for guests

By implementing these ideas, you can significantly reduce the expense of hiring a car for the bride and contribute to guest
transportation.

If your ceremony and reception are in two different locations, have a solid plan for transporting the guests from one location to the other. We recommend taking a test drive/ride at the same time of day your guests will be travelling, so you can make a note of any obstacles, potential delays, or unclear road signage. Then make sure to include all the necessary information in your invitations. 

If you’re expecting out-of-town guests, you should also take into consideration whether your desired location offers accommodation.

Think of the Perfect Wedding Menu

how to choose a wedding venue the complete guide
If you’d like to serve really impressive food on your Big Day, then consider booking a wedding restaurant! | La Galleria at Lacuna Events by LM, Chicago

Since weddings are all about eating, drinking and being merry, the menu deserves your special attention. Many venues will have their own in-house catering services or at least a list of preferred caterers; others will leave it entirely up to you. Whether you want to use the in-house caterers or hire an internal one, try everything first. The last thing you want is a venue with a fantastic atmosphere, a great dance floor, and mediocre food!

Also, ensure that the catering provides food that is suitable for your guests’  dietary restrictions. If children are invited, then providing kids’ meals is also important. And depending on how long your reception will be, you should make sure that the venue will provide the right amount of entrees. 

If you’re a foodie, you may consider hiring a wedding restaurant! At Tagvenue, we provide a long list of fantastic wedding restaurants that will spoil your palate on the Big Day!

Meet the Venue Staff

When visiting each venue, be aware of staff behaviour. If they are friendly and focused on you, that is a good sign; if they are distracted or pushy, walk away. Believe it or not, the professional staff really makes a difference and can either make or break your party! 

Pay Attention to the Décor

how to choose a wedding venue the complete guide
Arrange a visit to the venue an hour or so before someone else’s ceremony/reception to see the venue’s potential. | Entire Venue at Canyonwood Ridge, Austin, TX

Don’t be too quick to dismiss a venue that does not immediately catch your eye. Some spaces can be transformed with the right decorations and budget.

Each venue has unique features that can be brought to life with the right decor. Even if there are aspects of the venue that you don’t like, there are many cost-effective ways to cover them up and create a beautiful space.

To gauge a venue’s potential, look at pictures of previous ceremonies or receptions held in the same space on their social media and website.

You can also ask the venue manager if you can visit the space before another wedding to get a feel of what the venue will look
like on your big day.

Additionally, before signing any contracts, make sure to ask which decorations are included in the hire fee to avoid any unexpected
costs.

Check the Lighting 

Lighting is important for overall mood, as well as photography. If your ceremony and reception are going to be inside during the day, choose a venue that offers plenty of daylight (or at least has a solid indoor lighting system). 

Generally, we recommend checking the indoor spaces with all the lights switched on to get a general idea of the ambience.

According to Katarzyna from Kukafoto.com,

The worst mistake you can make, whether inside or out, is to have a single or few sources of light shining directly above you and your guests. This will create shadows around everyone’s eyes, making them look haggard.

Katarzyna from Kukafoto.com

It is best to have many sources of light scattered throughout your wedding space. These can be windows, indoor or outdoor bulb lights, uplighting (lighting on the floor that faces upward), candles, etc. Even if your space is generally dim and intimate after dark, you should be fine if the lighting is plentiful and spread out.

Jump Into Your Guest’s Shoes 

an impressive mansion hall with crystal chandelier in Los Angeles
When scouting for wedding venues, ask yourself this question: does the venue offer something exciting that will mark the reception as memorable? | The Valley Villa, Los Angeles, CA

When making the final decision, it’s also great to look at the venue from the guests’ perspective. Does it offer something exciting that will mark the reception as a memorable experience? Would you enjoy a wedding in the venue as a guest? If the answer is “yes”, then the chances are high that you’ve found your perfect match! 

Check What is Included in the Price

Don’t sign the contract unless you’re sure that you understand the terms and conditions, including all of the prices and fees. And don’t forget to compare different venue-hire options! For example, a venue that offers tables, chairs and tableware included in the price may cost more than hiring a blank canvas venue and a rental company separately. It can really make a difference, especially if you’d like to have a wedding on a budget.

Trust Your Gut 

a rustic wedding venue in Melbourne, Australia
In the end, if the venue doesn’t make you excited and simply happy, then it may mean that it isn’t the perfect match for you. | Entire Venue at Warrawong Estate, Melbourne, Australia

If the venue checks all the boxes but doesn’t make you all excited and jittery, then it means that your subconscious knows that you should skip that venue. After all, it’s your wedding, and the thought of having it at a certain venue should make you nothing but happy! 

Only choose one that not only ticks all of your boxes but also makes you feel excited for the Big Day! 

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask Questions! 

If you have any questions, just ask! It’s better to be informed at the beginning than encounter any unpleasant surprises later on. If you’re not sure what questions you should ask, use our list of top questions to ask your wedding venue. They will definitely help you decide if the venue you’re visiting is the perfect one! 

To Wrap Things Up

Your dream wedding day begins with choosing the perfect wedding venue. That’s why it’s important to think through all the essential elements before you start your search.

Remember to consider your priorities, budget, guest list, and desired atmosphere when evaluating potential locations. Keep an open mind, ask the right questions, but also trust your gut. 

By following our guide, we’re more than sure that you’ll find a venue that not only meets your expectations but also sets the stage for a celebration that will be cherished for a lifetime. 

So what are you waiting for?! Happy venue hunting, and may your wedding day be filled with love, joy, and unforgettable memories!

Find and book the perfect venue for your wedding online

Looking for a venue that would meet both your needs and your wallet? Or maybe need an all-inclusive wedding package for a stress-free wedding? We’ve got you covered!

FAQ

How far in advance should I book a wedding venue?

Wedding venues typically get booked 6-18 months in advance, but you can still book some venues at shorter notice if you are lucky.

This usually depends on three factors:

– The popularity of the venue
– the season for which you want to book, and the
– day of the week for which you want to book.

Generally, we recommend starting your search for the perfect wedding spot as soon as you’ve decided on a budget, guest list, and date. Ideally, this should take place at least one year before the wedding date.

Should I negotiate the wedding venue price? 

The answer is: yes! Most wedding venues have some degree of flexibility in their pricing. And negotiating can potentially save you a significant amount of money. This can really help when you’d like to host a wedding on a budget. 

Before you negotiate, look up prices for comparable venues in the area to get an idea of what is a reasonable price range. You can also ask the venue if they have any discounts available that you can take advantage of.

When making an offer or counteroffer, remember to be respectful and polite. Explain your budget and what you’re hoping to achieve, but also be willing to compromise. For example, if the venue can’t lower the price, they may be willing to include additional services or amenities at no extra cost! So don’t be afraid to take the plunge and negotiate. It doesn’t cost you anything, and you can win something in return!

Can I change a wedding venue?

Yes, it’s possible. But it all depends on whether you’ve already signed a contract or not.

If you haven’t, you may be able to switch without any major issues. But if you have signed a contract, be sure to review it carefully to see if there are any cancellation fees or penalties. You should also reach out to your current venue as soon as possible to let them know about your change of plans. 

Some venues will allow you to break the contract only after you’ve found someone who’s willing to take the spot in your place. That’s why make sure to thoroughly read the contract before you sign anything so that you know what you may be dealing with in case of a sudden change of heart.

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How to Choose a Wedding Venue: The Complete Guide