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Wedding Wednesday: How to Choose Your Wedding Venue

Happy Wedding Wednesday! With the new year in full swing, many brides are kicking the planning process into high gear for their summer and fall weddings and making all those final big decisions. Besides the budget and guest list, one of the first decisions that needs to be made is the wedding venue!

The venue will determine the date based on their availability and then will help all those other wedding day details (style, formality, color, decor) fall into place! So what should you look at and think about as you are touring all those venues trying to pick the perfect place?! Here is the beginner’s guide to help you get started!

Photography by Lane Dittoe

Location

Location, location, location. Consider the distance and the travel costs you and a majority of your guests will have to get to the venue. Is there a certain city that is meaningful to you and your fiance? What will the weather look like in that particular location in your desired wedding month?

Style

You should have a general idea of the style, theme, and tone of your wedding before your reserve your venue. If you know you want a modern glam wedding, you may want to look into a sleek contemporary hotel ballroom or museum rather than a renovated barn. If you want a nautical-themed wedding, a harbor will better match your style than a wedding mill. We personally are going for a mountain elegant theme, so we chose a lodge styled venue at a ski resort.

Color

If you have a certain theme, style, or color palette in mind, make sure the coloring of the venue reflects or enhances your theme. They don’t have to match exactly, but you don’t want the walls, curtains, carpets, etc. to conflict with your style. For example, dated curtains can really clash with a modern and contemporary vibe.

Rosewood Mansion | Photography by f8 Studio

Size

Create a general guest list before your venue search to ensure the room is large enough to accommodate the number of people on your guest list. You don’t want to book a venue that only holds 75 for a seated dinner when you have 200 on your guest list, and you also don’t want a venue that holds 400 when you only want to invite 75 because it will look empty!

Don’t forget to factor in space for the dance floor, bars, food stations, or buffet tables if these are elements you will be incorporating into your wedding. Often times, (and this is the situation in our case actually) if your guest list is close to the max capacity of the venue, you have to do a seated dinner because there is not enough space for buffet tables or stations. So just keep that in mind as well if the food service presentation is important to you.

Aria in Minneapolis, Minnesota | Photo courtesy of Aria

Designated Areas

Ask the venue for a typical layout of the space for weddings. There should be logical places for the bars, tables, food, dancing, DJ/band etc. so the space doesn’t feel cluttered. Also, avoid venues with odd-shaped rooms so that it doesn’t mess with the flow of the wedding.

Privacy

How important is privacy to you? This varies from place to place. If you want an intimate ceremony and reception don’t choose a beach or park where strangers can walk through and watch you – because they will and may even be in the background of your pictures! In this case opt for a private estate or hotel where there aren’t many events going on at once.

Lowndes Grove Plantation in Charleston, South Carolina | Photography by Reese Allen Photography

Lighting

Lighting goes a long way in setting the mood and tone of your event. You’ve put a lot of time and effort into planning your wedding, so you want to make sure the light is not only adequate for your guests to see, but also enhances your style.

Visit your venue at the same time of day that your wedding will be. If you’re having a daytime wedding, make sure there are plenty of windows. If you’re having an evening wedding, make sure that it won’t be too dark or that you can control the lighting or bring your own in.

Many people also like to bring in candles for evening weddings. Some venues do not allow this due to their fire code, so if this is important to you, be sure to ask about their rules and regulations.

Haiku Mill in Maui, Hawaii | Photo courtesy of Haiku Mill

A View

What will the view be when your guests walk into the room? There may be a great photo opportunity right outside your venue such as a city skyline, ocean, or mountains, which is always a plus. However, if there isn’t a specific view, look at the decor and architectural details that will attract people’s attention. Also – be sure there aren’t any cranes or construction going on outside the window that will distract your guests.

Baywood Greens in Long Neck, Delaware | Photography by Kam Photography

Logistics

This is not the most glamorous part of picking a venue, but it’s very important and can make a huge difference. Be sure that the venue has enough power and outlets for all of your vendors (bands, lighting, etc.) and that they are near where they will be stationed for the night. Also consider the sound quality in the room and any noise ordinances. You don’t want to find out after you booked your venue, that all music has to be off by 10pm when you were imagining a late night party!

If you are considering a private venue such as backyard, barn, or garden there are a lot more logistics to consider. Sometimes these venues seem like picturesque places to get married, but bringing everything in from the place settings to generators and lighting can be a headache – and often times more expensive.

Peabody Opera House in St. Louis, Missouri | Photography by MNC Photography

Plan B

Does your venue have a Plan B if something happens to your space? If you’re getting married outdoors and it ends up raining, is there an alternative plan of action? These are not fun things to think about, but just be aware of all the options!

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