Everyone knows that choosing a wedding venue is one of the first important decisions a couple makes when planning their wedding. In fact many couples are having to choose their venue 1-2 years before their wedding just to save their date. But when couples make a quick decision, mistakes can be made. And these mistakes directly affect the budget and many of the decisions that are made afterward. So here are 7 key factors you should consider when choosing a wedding venue:
1. Size & Location
Obviously if you want 250 guests at your wedding, you will need to consider the size of your venue and how many people it can reasonably accommodate. The location matters too. Is it easy for your guests to travel to and access? Is it close to hotels for your out-of-town guests? A tip here: don’t pick a venue that holds a maximum of 150 guests when you have 225 people on your invite list because you assume not everyone will come. What if more people RSVP “yes” than what you anticipated? Either cut the guest list or choose a venue that will safely hold at least 90% of your invited guests.
What’s the look or feel of this venue? Does it match your style? Does it offer natural beauty or great architecture? If so, you will probably not need to spend as much on decor as a venue with bare walls. This is the element that many couples “fall in love with” when choosing a venue. It’s important to choose a venue that you personally love and think is beautiful, but don’t let the emotion of finding the “perfect place” blind you to the other key factors in this article!
This is a biggie. And it’s totally different from cost. Value refers to what you receive for the money spent. I know of some cheaper venues (even the free use of family property!) but once you add the cost of all the extras you will need (and all the headache of DIY decorating, renting items, etc.) the place really isn’t a good value. For instance, you might be invited to use the free family property, but you will have to consider adding all the following: tables, chairs, linens, a tent, portable restrooms, lighting, etc. As you can see, the cost can really add up. On the flip side, the price tag of a particular venue may be high, but if it takes away the cost of extra items and the stress of doing certain things yourself, then choosing this venue might be a great value TO YOU. Make sure you understand everything included under a price tag before determining if it’s a good value or not!
Does the venue have dressing rooms? Adequate restrooms? A commercial kitchen? Indoor or covered space in case of inclement weather? If not, does it offer enough room for a tent? Is it air conditioned or heated? Is it handicapped accessible for your guests? Will it be comfortable for all your guests?
5. Support Staff
A venue with great support staff will be a blessing to you in many ways. It’s great to have staff who you can reach when you have questions and who promptly return your calls or emails. You will want staff to be present when you do a walk-through closer to your wedding date to answer the questions that will come up. And it’s great to have at least staff member somewhere on-site during the wedding in case the air conditioning is too cold, a guest needs special assistance, or a number of other reasons.
6. Rules & Regulations
Make sure you understand the rules of the venue! Read their policies carefully and make sure they are stated in your contract. In particular, you should be aware of a venue’s alcohol policy, clean-up rules, decor restrictions, when you can access to decorate, when you must be out of the venue, and if you are free to choose your own vendors or not.
Finally, we get down to the price tag! Once you determine how much of a value your venue is, at some point you have to talk about the bottom line. And if a particular venue eats up more of your budget than what you’re comfortable with, it’s ok to walk away! On the other hand, if the venue scores high with all the key factors that are important for your wedding, and the cost is a little high, you might want to re-examine your budget to see if you can cut back any areas that are not as important. If you don’t break your budget when choosing a wedding venue, you will be happier in the planning process & less stressed. And then you will be better able to enjoy that great venue you selected!
If you are looking for a wedding venue in the Huntsville, AL area, let’s talk! Or if you’ve chosen your venue, but now you’re stuck in your planning, we can talk about that too!