By Terry Meadows
6- minute read
Your wedding venue is one of the first and most important decisions you will make on your wedding planning journey. But gosh, there are so many venues and so many choices, and it doesn’t take long to get a bit overwhelmed.
The wedding venue will likely be your most significant expense, and you want to ensure it is perfect for your dream wedding. It sets the scene and tone for your special day and is one of the main things guests remember, along with food and music, so you might feel anxious about making the right decision. Don’t worry; we are here to help. As an all-inclusive venue ourselves, we have done hundreds of weddings and want to share our knowledge with you.
Most couples visit about 3-4 wedding venues after slimming down their list from online searches and recommendations.
The general rule is to book your wedding venue 9-12 months prior to your wedding date. If you are not flexible with your dates, you may need to start your search earlier. It can take a few months to make your selection, so give yourself plenty of time if that is an option.
In this article, we’ll explore:
- what to look for when selecting your wedding venue
- who joins you on the venue tour
- how to choose a venue
- how many to visit in person
What do I need to know before I visit a wedding venue?
Site tours are one of the most important steps you can take toward booking a venue, and it’s essential to come to a tour with a goal in mind and a wedding venue checklist in hand.
Here is a checklist ready for printing - Wedding venue checklist
Before you dash out and start tearing around looking for a wedding venue, you want to sit down together and determine your budget. Every aspect of your wedding is dictated by how much you want to spend, and the venue will be right near the top of the list of most expensive items. You can eliminate the venues already above your maximum limit from your search list.
How many guests do I invite to my wedding?
You will need to know how many guests you plan to invite, as your venue size is determined by how many people it can accommodate. If you have a small group of around 50 people, it doesn’t make sense to have a massive ballroom, and likewise, a group of 150 won’t feel comfortable sitting cheek-by-jowl in a tiny reception room. Bear in mind that if you have local guests you can anticipate around 85% attending. For out-of-town guests plan on 55% attending, although if they are family members it can run up to 85% too.
Wedding venue setting
You may already have in mind a preference for the setting of your wedding, and this definitely helps to narrow your searches. Or, do you dream of an elegant ballroom, a cozy restaurant, a rustic barn, or a serene natural setting? If you are unsure, search for wedding venues online and see which ones catch your eye.
Popular wedding styles include:
Who do I take on my wedding venue tour?
It is best to keep it to a small, select group. You and your partner may choose to bring along some selected people to join you on your tour. Some people like to have their family members or bridal party with them. Often having an extra set of eyes can help you see things you may otherwise miss, and they can take notes or photos, leaving you to focus on the atmosphere and setting.
If you are using a wedding planner, having them join you is a good idea, as they can ask many logistical questions you might not have considered yet.
Then again, you might feel that you and your partner can manage this yourselves. Make sure you take our checklist with you to cover what the venue offers and what restrictions or limitations they might have in place.
How long does a wedding venue tour last?
Tours generally last about 30-60 minutes, depending on whether the venue is all-inclusive. With an all-inclusive, you will visit the ceremony and reception site and discuss vendor options, such as a caterer, florist, musicians, photographer, etc. The time will depend on how detailed you want to be and how many questions you have. This is why an online search beforehand is so important and efficient.
How do I choose a wedding venue?
The most obvious place to begin searching for your venue is online. It helps to know what type of venue you want in advance, although your search might bring up some unexpected options.
Search online for wedding venues
One of the easiest ways to limit your venue visits is to search online. Today’s savvy brides can access many more options without physically visiting each venue in person and quickly narrow down their top choices.
Many venues have virtual tours, and almost all have galleries showcasing their facilities. While you might not get the hands-on feel of the site, you can undoubtedly eliminate venues that don’t fit your requirements.
With an online search, you can quickly compare each venue, especially if you come across something you hadn’t thought to consider. This is also useful when checking whether each venue has the amenities you want.
Check if the venue has an online calendar where you can see if your dates are available.
And don’t forget those customer reviews. While you possibly will jump straight to the lowest scores first, take a moment to peruse the higher ratings as they often have interesting perspectives from previous couples that can give you a clearer picture of how it felt to have a wedding there.
How many wedding venues should I visit?
Couples visit an average number of three to four venues from their list of their prospective choices.
If you have a longer list, try to limit the number of visits to two a day so you don’t feel overwhelmed and overloaded. This is an important decision, so you must take your time and give each venue careful consideration.
Once you have a manageable list, you can plan your visit, which will then give you insight into the interior size of the venue and any exterior places you might consider using. You can also assess the lighting and music setup, as well as check the catering and serving areas. You can get a real sense of how it will look and feel for you and your guests.
Also worth considering is the surrounding area of the venue. It isn’t very appealing to drive through the dustbin part of town to get to your carefully curated wedding. If the venue is in a residential neighborhood, check to see if there are any sound abatement restrictions and if there is adequate parking.
By the time you are ready to do a site visit, you should feel confident that the venue is what you are looking for. Eliminate the venues that don’t spark your interest or don’t fit your requirements. Go to the venue knowing that it has a very high possibility of being your choice, as you don’t want to waste your time. You run the risk of feeling deflated if it doesn’t meet your expectations.
If you still haven’t chosen a venue after these visits, it’s time to reevaluate what it is you are looking for. Do you need to consider a smaller guest list, or revisit your budget? Determine what it was about the sites you didn’t like, and, more importantly, what they were missing. Once you have a better understanding of what you want and need, start narrowing down your choices to 3-4 for tours.
How do I select my venue?
You’ve been wondering how many wedding venues to visit and are concerned that you might have missed the perfect one. Even if you have your heart set on one specific venue, it is a good idea to check out at least one or two alternatives so you can be certain that your choice is exactly what you want. Consider using an all-inclusive venue where much of your wedding planning stress can be relieved.
Your first steps are to determine your budget and then begin an online search of venues that fit your style and theme. Narrow down your list to around three venues, schedule a tour, and print out the Wedding Venue checklist to take with you.
You can explore our truly all-inclusive elopements, minimonies, one-day, and three-day wedding options by clicking the links to our Contact page, where you will receive an immediate response from our wedding experience expert.
(Note: no compensation was received for mentions and links)
Resources: 1 Wedding Wire