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10 Things To Consider When Choosing The Perfect Wedding Venue

Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards Photo: Jen Fariello

Choosing a venue for your wedding is something that should be done carefully and with thought and planning. The fee’s for venue rental, equipment rentals, food and beverage will comprise a large portion of your wedding budget. If you overspend here it means compromises later. The venue you choose will set the style, and vibe or theme of your wedding. Here are a few things to consider before rushing out to book the first place you visit or find on Google.

Know your approximate wedding budget and plan to spend no more than 45 to 50% of that budget on venue rental, food and beverage and equipment rental. If you find a dream place ask the venue director to help you estimate the cost of food, beverage and equipment rental before signing on the dotted line.

Know your guest count before you look and book. It is important that your venue can accommodate the max number of guests that may attend.  Remember to factor in space for dancing, bars, DJ or band, cake/dessert table, etc.  You don’t want to compromise your  guest list just because you can’t seat everyone.

Does the venue fit the vibe or style of you dream wedding? Are you looking for a casual, relaxed space with beautiful views of the countryside and lots of outdoor elements? Or is formal and fancy your style? 

The Jefferson Hotel DC

Will the venue need a lot of décor to make it look like your favorite picture on Pinterest? Some barns are charming but can be rustic and raw and need softening with flowers and lighting to make them look wedding- ish. While other venues are move in ready already styled with furniture or décor that fit the theme.  Adding extra’s can add to the budget.

Be comfortable with the rain plan. If you choose a venue that has a ton of charming outdoor space make sure you ask and are comfortable with the venue’s rain plans. Some rain plans require additional expense like renting a tent. Tents can put a dent in your budget.

Does the venue have air conditioning, heating, plenty of bathrooms and other comforts for the enjoyment of guests. It is hard to enjoy the celebration when you are too hot or too cold or have to wait in line to use the bathroom. 

Find out if you can choose your own vendors. Some venues require you to choose from a preferred vendors list and if you wish to choose someone not on the list additional fee’s might apply.

If the venue includes food and beverage service ask to see sample menus. Do you see your favorite foods listed?  Find out if they offer a variety of service styles, .ie, buffet, plated, chef manned small plate stations, etc. Can bring your own cake or a variety of mini desserts for a dessert station? Is it  okay to have a food truck stop by for a late night snack.  Can you serve red wine? Many historic homes do not allow red wine service due to concerns about spills.

Anderson House Wedding DC Photo: Emily Alyssa Photography

Check the floorplan does it allow for a nice flow from cocktails to dinner and dinner to dancing. Can all of your guests be seated in the same room? Does the DJ, buffet and cake need to be in another space? Can the music be heard throughout all of the spaces? Is there a room for the bride to get ready and the groom to hang out? 

Do you have enough time for load in and load out? Can you bring items the night before to be stored overnight. If you are supplying your own beverages can they be safely stored overnight or will someone need to bring them the day of the wedding. If you are doing a lot of décor you may need more that the standard 2 hours of set up time.

Consider parking details. Is the venue in an urban environment where parking is limited or costly?  If your venue is down a dark windy road and parking is in a dirt lot you may want to consider transportation so guests who have had a bit to drink arrive home safely and parking lots are not a muddy mess from rain.  At some countryside venues Uber and Lyft are not reliable at night. 

Bottom line…. Do your homework before getting into a venue that will not look so perfect after you realize that your dream wedding must be seriously compromised.

An experienced wedding planner can help you evaluate the plus’s and minus of the venues you are considering.

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