Wedding Venues

The Complete Guide on How to Choose a Wedding Venue
 
Congratulations!  You’ve found that special someone to share your journey in life.  Now, it’s time to look for the perfect place to get married.
 
A wedding venue is the place that helps you bring the people you cherish together.  Popular wedding ceremony venues include parks, private gardens, churches, and hotels.  Wedding reception venues that are popular with wedding couples also include ballrooms, restaurants, banquet halls, mansions, country clubs, and historical buildings.
 
Choosing a Wedding Date
 
Season
 
The summer is the most popular season for weddings.  The winter, especially during December, is also quite popular.
 
Date and Time
 
When choosing a wedding day, consider whether most of your guests will be able to attend or will they have other commitments on that date.
 
Wedding reception times vary.  When considering the time, think about which times would be good for your guests.  For both dates and times, keep a few backup choices ready in case the date you prefer has already been reserved.
 
Guest Count and Budget
 
After choosing a wedding date, one of the first things to do is to put together a guest list.  This will help you get a rough estimate of the size of the wedding venue that you need.  Also, create a budget of how much you have to spend for your wedding, so you can let venues know and work with them to stay within budget.
 
Wedding Ceremony and Reception Location
 
You might already have a stack of wedding and bridal magazines or wedding blogs that you’re browsing for wedding ideas. 
 
When looking for the best wedding location, think about what are the ‘must-haves’ for your dream wedding venue.  What’s the vision for your wedding?
 
Do you want an indoor or outdoor wedding?  If you want an outdoor wedding, we recommend that you have a weather contingency plan as backup.
 
Do you want your wedding located in the downtown area of your city or in a more rural setting?
 
Do you prefer one venue or different venues for both the wedding ceremony and reception?  If you’re considering two different venues, it’s helpful to consider the travel time between the venues for your guests.
 
If you want one venue for your wedding, look for venues that have separate spaces for the ceremony, cocktail area, and reception.  For example, you can find a venue that has a large outdoor area for the wedding ceremony and cocktails, then use the indoor area for your reception.  During the reception, the outdoor area can also turn into an area for a photo booth.
 
Style
 
Are you looking for a rustic wedding venue? Do you want a formal or informal wedding?  Do you want a reception that includes a seated dinner and dancing?  Or do you want buffet stations?
 
In the book, Vera Wang on Weddings, the popular wedding dress designer mentions how the venue’s style and the bride’s wedding dress can complement each other.  
 
Venue Services and Amenities
 
Questions to ask the venue: 

  • Will tables and chairs be provided?  What about linens, plates, glasses, and silverware?

  • What is the latest time the event can last up to?  For example, some venues allow you to hold your wedding reception up to 11:00 PM.  This is a factor to consider if you want your reception to continue until midnight or later.

  • Any restrictions on music volume?

  • Are there other events using the venue on the same date and times?

  • What types of audio visual equipment are available for the event?  

  • Are there dressing areas for the bride and groom?

  • Are there enough bathroom facilities for guests?

  • Will there be free parking?  Where is the nearest parking area?

  • For outdoor events:  is there outdoor night lighting?

  • What type of heating is available at the venue?  Is there heating for outdoor spaces?

If you have guests from out-of-town attending or if you’re having a destination wedding, you can ask to set up room blocks if the venue offers lodging.    
 
Wedding Entertainment Ideas

  • Do you need a dance floor?

  • Do you want a live band or DJ?

  • A photo booth for your wedding guests?  

Average Costs of Wedding Venue

  • What is the venue rental cost?

  • How much is the wedding venue deposit?  What is the payment policy?

  • How do you handle cancellations? 

  • How much does it cost if the wedding event goes overtime?

If you’re on a budget:
 
Ask the venue if they offer discounts for certain days and times. If you’re on a budget, selecting a date during off-peak seasons for weddings may help you lower costs. 
 
Other ways to lower wedding costs is to get creative.  Ask caterers if you can put together a special menu and substitute more costly meal items.
 
You can also consider more unique venues like lofts to lower the venue rental cost.  There are many different types of venues to choose from and you can also ask friends for recommendations on how to save money on your wedding.
 
Venue Tours
 
Arrange a time for a tour of the venues that you’re interested in.  When you’re touring the venue, here’s a couple of key tips:

  • Take pictures of the venue, so that you can reference them when deciding which venue to choose.

  • Save the informational handouts and materials you collect from the venue.

If you see a venue that you really like and it has the date available that you want, you can ask to put a temporary hold on that date.  This helps if you’re afraid that the venue might later be unavailable before you make your final decision.
 
Catering and Beverages for Your Wedding
 
General food and beverage factors to think about:

  • Does the venue allow you to bring your own alcohol?

  • Does the catering include the wedding cake?

  • What are the menu options for guests with special diet preferences?

  • How many servers will be on staff?

  • Is insurance required?

Questions for In-house and Outside Caterers

  • What are the costs for food and beverage per person?

  • How much are the tax and service charges?

  • Do you have a bar minimum?

  • Does the venue have a preferred list of caterers?

Every wedding has the unique style and personal touch of each couple.  From all types of wedding ceremony venues to reception venues of any size, HelloRSVP makes it simple for you to search and find the perfect wedding venue for your special day and style.