Choosing Your Dream All-Inclusive Wedding Venue: A Comprehensive Guide and Checklist

By Terry Meadows

4-minute read




Do you want to be absolutely certain that the venue you choose for your wedding is the perfect one? 

Are you unsure what is included in an all-inclusive package and if the venue you are looking at is truly all-inclusive?

Choosing the right venue is pivotal to setting the tone for your entire celebration, and you want to ensure that you have selected a setting that aligns with your dreams and practical needs.  You might be looking to compare what each venue on your list includes for an all-inclusive package to make a better-educated choice on your ultimate cost for your wedding. 

To make your comparison more manageable, we've included a detailed spreadsheet tool to help you objectively weigh your options. At Zion Springs, we believe in the power of informed choices. We want our guests to feel confident about their decisions, so we offer this guide. It's our way of ensuring that when you finally choose your wedding venue, whether it's Zion Springs or elsewhere, you do so with confidence and the certainty that you have chosen a place that is perfect for you. 

Key Factors in Choosing a Wedding Venue

When embarking on the quest for the perfect wedding venue, several essential factors come into play, each shaping the overall experience of your special day. 

Location, Style, and Ambience

The location you choose for your wedding is paramount; it's not just about geographical beauty but also about accessibility for your guests. Whether nestled in a serene countryside or at an elegant hotel in the bustling downtown area, the venue's location sets the stage for your wedding's atmosphere. 

The style is a reflection of your personal narrative as a couple.  Each setting weaves a unique tapestry of your story reflected by a rustic barn, an elegant ballroom, or the gentle lapping of ocean waves on a sandy beach. 

The subtle blend of the venue’s aesthetics with lighting and landscape plays a significant role in bringing your wedding vision to life.  The ambiance serves as the framing of your nuptials and lingers as the backdrop to your photos. 

Keep in mind that some venues may host multiple events simultaneously, meaning you might not have exclusive use of the entire space. This scenario is often found in larger event complexes, like hotels with several ballrooms, or vineyards that remain open to regular patrons. Understanding how this could affect your event's privacy and overall atmosphere is important.

While location, style, and ambiance influence your venue choice, the next aspect of your wedding planning journey is understanding venue packages. 

Understanding What Is an All-Inclusive Wedding Package

When it comes to wedding venue packages, understanding the variety and specifics is key to selecting the one that best fits your wedding day vision. Your two main options are all-inclusive and customizable, also referred to as à la carte or DIY.  All-inclusive packages are a one-stop solution, covering everything from catering, decorations, and entertainment to on-site coordination, often simplifying the planning process for couples. These packages are ideal for those who prefer a streamlined, hassle-free approach. 

Bear in mind that “all-inclusive” often varies from venue to venue.  It usually includes the venue, tables and chairs, linens, and tableware.  You might find they add-on charges for a dance floor, lighting and sound systems, etc.

Customizable packages offer more flexibility, allowing couples to handpick elements such as catering styles, décor themes, and additional services. This option is perfect for couples looking for a small and budget-friendly option, those with unique requirements, or those with time for the organization and preparation that go into their special day. 

The financial aspect is a crucial component of wedding planning that often weighs heavily on couples' minds. Budget considerations are the foundation in shaping your wedding choices, and it's essential to navigate this terrain with a clear understanding of not only the upfront costs but also the often-overlooked hidden expenses. 

The Financial Aspect of Selecting Your Wedding Venue

We always strongly recommend that couples establish a sound and attainable wedding budget before they make any planning decisions on individual products and services. This ensures that you don’t overspend; more than half of wedding couples overspend their budgets by $8000.  Couples need to understand the visible costs and the potential hidden costs that can arise when selecting a wedding venue.  While attractive prices might catch your initial attention, it's important to delve deeper into what's included in these costs. Equipment rentals, setup and cleanup fees, overtime charges, and even gratuities can significantly impact your overall budget. As you determine the all-inclusive package, consider what extras and add-ons are not included in the base price.  Ask detailed questions and request itemized quotes to ensure you have a complete picture of the financial commitment.  

Navigating through the intricacies of wedding venue selection can become quite convoluted. To aid in this journey and provide a structured approach to comparing venues, we have designed a tool to simplify your decision-making process by offering a clear and organized way to evaluate each venue. 

The Comprehensive Wedding Venue Checklist

This spreadsheet is more than just a checklist; it's a roadmap to finding the venue that meets your criteria and resonates with your heart and budget. 

Simply print out your wedding package checklist below and take it with you to your next venue for review. 

With this spreadsheet, you can turn the data into real-world insights.  This next section provides you with essential tips for your visit to each venue.

What To Look For and Ask When Visiting Wedding Venues

There is nothing to capture the true essence of a wedding venue than the experience of being there. While determining if this is the right place for you, enquire beyond the surface.  

  • Take note of the layout and spaces - do they flow well for your type of wedding? If you are using a multi-purpose facility, how do they ensure your privacy?
  • Consider the lighting and how it can create that sense of intimate beauty of your wedding ceremony and the excitement of your reception.  How does it change during the day, and how will affect your photos?
  • Does the venue have a setup for your sound equipment both at the ceremony and reception?
  • Verify if there is a backup plan for inclement weather and if it fits with your vision.  
  • Determine if they have accessibility for guests with mobility issues.  This includes getting to the location as well as moving around the venue.
  • You also want to ensure the location can accommodate parking for all of your guests.  If parking is limited or off-site, do they offer valet services?
  • What restrictions do they have in place? Can you choose your own decor and vendors? Are there specific noise abatement limits? Is the venue required to finish its functions at a certain time?
  • Are the setup and cleanup times accommodated within your facility rental, and can they accommodate outside vendors, such as kitchen setup?

Gauge the attitude and responsiveness of the staff, as they will play a significant role in the smooth running of your day. Each of these aspects contributes to the overall experience of your wedding, and getting a firsthand feel for them is invaluable. Remember, your visit is the best opportunity to envision your day in that space, so take your time, ask plenty of questions, and listen to your instincts before deciding.

Making the Decision on Your Wedding Venue

We recommend narrowing down your list to three to four venues to visit in person, lest it becomes overwhelming.  Compare the options on each of your spreadsheets and discuss the possibilities of the venues as they apply to your vision.  The decision is a balance of heart and mind, emotion and practicality, and ultimately ask yourself, “Which place resonated most deeply with our vision and just felt right?”

Consider the practical aspects: How well did each venue align with your budget, guest list, and logistical needs? Trust your instincts and rely on the concrete information you've gathered. 

 It's also crucial to consider the level of service and responsiveness you received during your visits and interactions. Were your questions welcomed and answered thoroughly? Did you feel a sense of connection and understanding with the venue staff? 

In the end, the right choice is one that brings peace and excitement.

Choosing Your All-Inclusive Wedding Venue

As you embarked on this journey of selecting the perfect wedding venue, you may have wondered about many aspects, from the location and style to the intricate details of what an all-inclusive venue offers. 

Our Spreadsheet Tool was designed to help you compare and contrast venues effectively, and our tips for visiting venues aimed to empower you to ask the right questions and observe keenly.

Your journey toward the perfect wedding is a story of love and celebration, and we at Zion Springs are committed to being a part of that narrative. We encourage you to explore our other articles, which are crafted with care, aiming to guide, inspire, and inform you for more insights, tips, and inspiration on topics such as Best Wedding Venues in Virginia, Who Pays For What? or you can take an in-depth look at what we offer as a truly all-inclusive venue at Zion Springs.