How to choose a wedding venue

Choosing a wedding venue makes wedding planning more official. 

It is also one of the most important decisions you will make during the planning process. 

What makes a good wedding venue?

Location, location, LOCATION!

Choosing a wedding venue is no easy feat; it plays a big part in how your day unfolds.

Seeing castles, rooftop gardens, and oceanside settings can be overwhelming, all while wanting to stay within budget.

But, you want your guests to leave with only the best memories, including yourself.

Finding the perfect wedding venue comes down to; you, your fiancé, your budget, a bit of dreaming and compromise.

We are so excited as we will be looking at our best tips on choosing a wedding venue, especially if you have no idea where to start.

There are a few factors to consider when choosing a wedding venue, such as:

  • The wedding budget
  • The venue capacity 
  • The ambiance and feel of the space
  • What is included in the wedding package
  • Parking space
  • Weather and backup options that are available
  • Distance and so much more… 

Finding the perfect wedding venue might not be as easy as it sounds. 

If all the above criteria meet your needs, then you are lucky. 

But be prepared to be flexible and adjust your expectations if needed. 

When should you book your wedding venue?

To ensure you secure your dream wedding venue, you must book it at least one year before your wedding date.

I like to have my couple start finding a wedding venue at least 13-14 months and then securing it with a deposit at least one year before the wedding day.

If not, the latest should be nine months before the wedding!

Some of the most popular wedding venues can be booked sometimes years in advance. 

To secure your perfect wedding venue, be sure you are ahead of time by booking early.

The early bird catches the worm. 

To find the right wedding venue, start looking early. 

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So what are our best tips for picking a wedding venue?

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How to pick a wedding venue carefully

Ready to find a wedding venue? 

We have the best tips to help you determine the right venue. 

As we mentioned, this task is one of the most important tasks you will undertake during the wedding planning process. 

Avoid rushing as this will only set you up for disappointment, which means you could spend thousands on a venue that might not be the best one for you. 

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1. Determine Your Wedding Venue Needs

Before choosing a wedding venue, you must sit down and determine your needs.

For example, you might want a wedding venue that can accommodate 100 people on a long weekend, preferably on a Saturday. 

You only have $15,000 to spend on the entire wedding. 

Outdoor ceremony location on site is a must, and so is having a spot to have great photos after the ceremony.

You are looking for a wedding venue that can accommodate outside catering. 

By doing this process, you will eliminate a lot of venues that don’t meet these criteria, making picking a wedding venue much easier. 

Here is what to consider when choosing a wedding venue: 

  • Determine your number of guests
  • Create your wedding budget
  • Consider the accessibility needs of your guests
  • Think about what time of year you want to host your wedding
  • Think of your wedding style – rustic, boho, traditional? 

Any venue that can not accommodate your needs should be scrapped from your list. 

Looking for wedding venues that fit your needs will be tricky. 

Be prepared to be flexible.

If you follow our best tips on how to pick a wedding venue, you will have your dream venue in no time.

2. Choose A Wedding Venue That Meets Your Style 

Finding the right wedding venue will depend on what your ideal venue is. 

Once you have determined your needs (number of guests, budget, time of year you want to host your big day and all the other details), it’s time to determine your wedding style/theme. 

Are you in need of a venue that caters to intimate weddings? 

Or are you planning a DIY backyard wedding?

Are you thinking rustic, modern or more traditional style of wedding? 

Taking the time to think about your wedding theme before you start looking for wedding venues can help narrow down your search. 

The more you can incorporate your theme and style into your venue, the less money you will spend decorating it and styling it to meet your vision. 

Finding a wedding venue that works well with your wedding style will also help all the other details come to fruition perfectly.

When looking for a wedding venue, you stick within your budget. 

Don’t forget to check out other non-traditional wedding venues. 

You can read this post to learn about unconventional wedding venues worth booking. 

Whether you are looking for a traditional banquet hall, a restaurant-style wedding or a beach wedding, the tips on this post should help you when booking a wedding venue.  

Here is The Ultimate Guide to Finding Your Wedding Venue. Deciding on a wedding venue is a big, important deal! You want to make sure you ask all the right questions during you book your wedding venue. Super Important Questions to Ask Your Wedding Venue Before You Book - Wedding venue!

3. Determine The Type of Wedding Venue

It’s time to determine the type of wedding venue you see yourself marrying your better half. 

Choosing a wedding venue that allows you to make your dream come true is a great feeling. 

For those looking for a more traditional wedding venue, you will be looking at venues such as:

  • Hotel ballrooms
  • Country clubs
  • Churches
  • Banquet halls
  • Community centres

These types of spaces require you to dress them up. 

This means you will need to spend money on decorations. 

Church, community centres and some banquet halls might not offer food, so keep catering in mind.

If you are looking for destination-type wedding spaces, you are looking at wedding venues that are:

  • Resorts 
  • Bed and breakfasts
  • Boats/ Yachts
  • Cruises 

Picking a wedding venue like this makes it more unique. 

Keep in mind that in some cases your numbers might be small as guests are typically asked to spend money such as on transportation, accommodation and miscellaneous. 

Most guests might not afford this. 

On the bright side, you might save some money. 

Read more about » how to plan a destination wedding on a small budget!

Non-traditional wedding venues are so fun as they can bring and reflect the couple’s personality. 

A few examples of non-traditional wedding venues:

  • Zoos
  • Nightclubs/bars
  • Sport stadiums 
  • Aquariums 
  • Mansions 
  • Warehouse

These are amazing wedding venues. 

Don’t forget to look into other venues such as the art gallery, museums, wineries, barns and other outside-the-box venues. 

4. Questions To Ask Your Wedding Venue

You must consider a few things before choosing a wedding venue.

We made a list of a few questions to ask yourself before making that choice.

Remember, you don’t need to stick to your more traditional venues when choosing your wedding venues.

Other options like alternative wedding venues can also work for you. 

We have outlined the most important questions to ask your wedding venue below:

Is the venue available on your date?

If you’re going on venue tours, you probably know which day or season you’d like to say “I Do” in.

Do you have a date in mind?

Confirm over the phone or email with as many venues as possible before touring.

You may find yourself in a position where choosing to change your date or change your venue could be on the table.

Ask yourself (and your fiancé) if you’re willing to be flexible and where.

Choosing your wedding venue could involve sacrifices such as changing your wedding date and your wedding budget

Can the venue host your wedding guest count?

Venues have fire codes, restrictions and by-laws like every other organization.

In other words, rentable rooms will limit the number of people they can hold.

If you’re planning a wedding with 300+ guests, ensure potential wedding venues have enough space for all of you.

This may be an easy way to take the venue (or some guests) off the list if they don’t.

Another thing to consider, just because space can hold 200 people doesn’t mean it’s a comfortable 200.

Your wedding is something people will talk about for years to come, and you want those memories to be positive.

To shed some light on this, we hosted only 17 guests at our wedding. 

As part of our venue tours, calls and emails confirmed they were willing to waive the guest minimum.

It was also super important that the wedding space we chose made us feel like nothing was missing.

In the end, we had a guest list of 40.

The ballroom we used could hold 80 people; however, our guests all said the same thing, “The wedding space was perfect for 40 people, any more and it would have felt crowded for sure!”

What is included with the Venue? Are there restrictions on other vendors you can use?

More and more, we see all-inclusive packages when it comes to wedding venues.

This means they would provide a space for your ceremony and reception, provide a caterer, and even tables with linens, chairs, plates, glasses, and flatware.

This is a great option if you’re looking to keep your budget lower, you’re planning the wedding on your own, or just want a little less stress.

Now, if you’re not going all-inclusive, some venues still have a preferred caterer should you sign with them.

Take the time to get all the information because while it could seem pricey, it could be more affordable when you look at the big picture.

Consider what kind of food you’re looking to serve; perhaps a venue’s caterer has a very specific menu.

If the menu isn’t to your liking and the venue isn’t willing to work with you, head for the door.

This is YOUR day, and food is not something you settle on!

Is this venue within your budget?

To dream is to live, and having a crazy, wild idea of what this special day looks like is great!

But don’t torture yourself.

Don’t sign a venue that you just can’t afford.

If you spend all your money on a venue, you’ll have to make cuts in other aspects of your wedding, and I’ll tell you right now, you and your guests want an Overall Experience – not a great venue with not-so-great food and music.

There are many ways to create a wow factor when you have a low budget to plan your wedding

Take the time to sit down with your fiancé and research the average rates for wedding locations in your desired area. Choosing a wedding venue shouldn’t be a rushed decision for sure. 

I also recommend negotiating what is included in the price.

It doesn’t hurt to ask about throwing in a bridal suite OR getting a discount on linens.

Staying within your budget is the best thing you can do, and your future self will thank you when it’s all said and done.

A quick wedding budget checklist such as this will help determine if you can afford the wedding venue of your dreams.  

I also truly recommend grabbing our Ultimate Wedding Budget bundle.

Grab this wedding budget spreadsheet printable to help meet all your wedding planning needs. Here's how to make a wedding budget that's perfect for you, without skimping on the fun stuff. Check our printable Wedding Budget Templates!

It’s designed to meet all your wedding planning needs and ensure you cover all your wedding expenses, leaving little to no surprises. 

Making a budget for your wedding can help you avoid spending more than you planned.

Does the Venue space fit your needs and vision?

If you’re choosing an all-inclusive venue, many sub-events are happening in the same space.

Does the location transform from a ceremony to cocktail hour to reception well?

Discuss with the coordinator how flipping the wedding space has happened in the past, and also see about using different rooms for different parts of the day. 

Does the location have the capacity to do all these things?

Speaking of different rooms, will other weddings happen on the same day?

What does that look like for you and your guests?

We got married on a Tuesday at 11 am; we had the place to ourselves and could use unique spaces for the ceremony, mimosa hour, and reception.

If you’re getting married on a Saturday at 3 pm, you’re likely looking at 2 or 3 other weddings happening around the same time.

Another thing to look at with all-inclusive packages is the decor.

Depending on the venue’s supply, this could help your decision-making process.

Are the tables sturdy and big enough to seat guests comfortably?

Do they have linens that work with your wedding colours? What’s new? What’s old?

Is anything being replaced before you get married?

Think of your wedding theme and ensure the wedding venue can accommodate your needs.

If the all-inclusive package isn’t available, is beyond your budget, or just isn’t for you, you’ll need to take note of what you’ll be responsible for to host your guests at the venue you choose.

When you meet with venue coordinators, see if they have preferred wedding vendors or recommendations on rental companies in the area.

Since you’re already talking about money, ask about hidden wedding costs, additional costs to have things included, and backup plans in case something falls through.

These can add up quickly, and the last thing you need on your honeymoon is to be blindsided by a couple of extra zeroes on your credit card.

Be aware of all wedding expenses before choosing a wedding venue!

The more you know, the better for all involved. 

Speaking of backup plans, don’t forget about the weather.

Is it an outdoor venue?

Do they provide a backup plan of any kind?

As hard as you might try, sometimes.

Mother Nature has different plans, and it’s beyond your control.

If the weather is a factor, create a plan that allows your day to run smoothly and stress-free, rain or shine.

Tips for how to choose a wedding venue Tips for how to choose a wedding venue and questions to ask before booking a venue. Choosing a wedding venue is one of your most important wedding decisions.

5. Quick Wedding Venue Checklist:

Here are a few more questions to ask the wedding venue before settling and choosing a venue. 

Choosing a wedding venue checklist:

The Venue:

  • What is the ceremony guest capacity?
  • What is the reception guest capacity?
  • Do you have an in-house wedding coordinator?
  • Is your venue handicap accessible?
  • Do you have enough parking spaces?
  • Is there room for a band or DJ?
  • Do you provide a dancefloor?
  • Do decorations come with the booking?
  • Are fireworks permitted?
  • Do you have a PA system for speeches?
  • Is confetti allowed?
  • Are there any evening noise restrictions?
  • Is there a PA system for speeches?
  • Does the venue have Public Liability Insurance?
  • Is there a secure room to store wedding gifts until we collect them the following day?
  • Do we need to empty our belonging the same night?
  • What’s allowed or not allowed in terms of decorating?

Accommodation

  • Is a room available for the bride and groom to use on the day?
  • If rooms are available for overnight accommodation, then how many?
  • Do you have group booking rates?
  • What’s the cut-off date for booking these?
  • Are breakfast and parking included with the room booking?
  • What time is check out the following day?
  • If there is no accommodation at the venue, can you recommend hotels, nearby B’n’B’s or bread and breakfast to use?

Catering Checklist

  • Do they offer in-house catering? If not, do they have any recommendations?
  • Can you supply a cake stand and a cutting knife if needed?
  • Do you have a cake serving fee?
  • Does the venue insist on supplying the wine and champagne?
  • Do you have corking fees? 
  • Do we require a liquor license fee?
  • What’s your cut-off for serving alcohol?
  • Do you have examples of your menus and prices?
  • Does the venue provide equipment, i.e. tables, chairs, linen, plates, glassware etc.?
  • What time does the reception need to finish by?

Extra venue costs

  • Do you have a cancellation policy?
  • What are some other various options and costs associated with the venue?
  • How much is the venue deposit to secure the date, and when is it due?
  • What percentage are the tips
  • How much is the final balance, and when is the due date?

There you have it, a complete guide to choosing a wedding venue!

Don’t forget to grab our free 12-month wedding planning checklist printable!

This simple wedding planning checklist will save your sanity in the long run. 

It is the best 12-month wedding checklist pdf, perfect for busy brides or those that want to be more organized. 

Grab your copy right here

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Final Thoughts

When choosing a venue for your wedding, whether for the ceremony or all events that day, it really comes down to your gut instinct.

One of my tips; look up photographers who have shot weddings at the venues you’re considering.

Seeing pictures of ceremonies, receptions, etc., helped me visualize what my day could look like.

My husband and I toured about 4 or 5 locations, and the minute we saw where we could be saying “I Do” at Liuna Gardens, we knew it was the place for us.

Every other venue we saw had its pros and cons, but none gave us “the feeling” quite like Liuna. It checked off all of our boxes; in location, price, and amenities.

Trust your gut, it won’t steer you wrong!

This is part of our wedding series, featuring tips from real brides like you. This one is from Stephanie Groulx – I Am Engaged! Now What? 3 Things To Seriously Think About!

Stephanie Stephanie Groulx is a tax credit coordinator and content creator by night. She enjoys yoga practice, adventuring with her husband, and binge-watching Netflix with takeout in her spare time.

You can find more about Steph at thestephedit.com and on Instagram at
@thestephedit and photos by Lexie Laus Photography @lexielausphotography!

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Tips For Choosing A Wedding Venue That is Perfect For You