001. Vanessa Hicks Photography

Checklist to Find Your Ideal Venue


April 4, 2022
Words by Be Inspired PR
Photos courtesy of various

One of the first things most couples do after getting engaged is to start looking for their dream venue – and why wouldn’t you?! You’ve got the ring, now it’s time to find the perfect spot where you can picture yourself saying “I do!” But choosing a venue is a major step in the wedding planning process, and can determine many of the other decisions you’ll end up making throughout the rest of your planning journey. It’s not something that should be taken likely! We teamed up with Be Inspired PR to grab input from industry pros to create the ultimate checklist for choosing your perfect venue!couple cutting three tier wedding cake in outdoor corner of castle buildingVendor Credits: Photographer: Red Gallery Photography; Floral: Pieter Bouterse Studio; Planner: Kirkbrides Wedding Planning

Check off the 5-planning to-do’s first! “There are five important wedding planning to-do’s that need to be solidified prior to choosing your venue. The first is your budget. How much of your budget are you allocating for your venue? Your guest list affects your budget and venue selection. Make sure the venues you’re looking at can accommodate all of your guests. The third is your wedding date. Are the venues you’re interested in available on the day you want to get married? The time of year plays a role too. Can the venue accommodate weather changes? Is it easy to get to if there’s inclement weather? The fifth and final factor is not necessarily a must, but a consideration, and that’s the style of the bride’s gown and how formal of a wedding you want to have. While I’m a believer a bride should wear whatever she wants, no matter the venue, there are some venues that provide the perfect setting for certain looks.” – Maya Holihan, CEO & Founder, EWedded

Ask some key questions. “Here are a few! Do you have parking available? How much time do you allow for setup and breakdown? Do you have any requirements when it comes to vendors that I hire? Do you require additional liability insurance? Do you have any out-of-the-ordinary restrictions I should be aware of? What is your fee structure? What can I expect added fees for?” – Nora Sheils, Founder Bridal Bliss + Co-Founder Rock Paper Coin

couple surrounded by orange and white florals with a white church with two steeples in the backgroundVendor Credits: Photographer: Vanessa Hicks Photography & Lovely Light Imagery Venue: 620 Loft & Garden; Planning and Design: Britt Jones Co.; Florals: One Flower By L

Determine your wedding style. “Do you know what kind of wedding you want? Will it be formal or casual? Indoors or outdoors? Ultra modern or free-spirited boho? Will it be held at night or during the day? Are kids welcome or is it adults-only? By identifying your wedding style before you start looking for a venue, you can really narrow down your search. And finding a venue that perfectly sets the stage for your wedding style helps all the other details naturally fall into place.” – Jenna Miller, Creative Director of Here Comes The Guide

See photos of your venue during the season you’re getting married. “Ask or look for photos of your venue during the time/season that you are getting married. Venues could be lusher during spring and not as green in the fall! You want to know how your venue will look during the season of your wedding!” – Vanessa Hicks, Vanessa Hicks Photography
wedding reception set up underneath a tent with a tulle ceiling
Vendor Credits: Photographer: Red Gallery Photography; Floral: Pieter Bouterse Studio; Planner: Kirkbrides Wedding Planning

Prioritize your must-haves. 
“Before you commit to a venue, think about the items that are highest on your wedding priority list. Perhaps it’s a rooftop ceremony space with a killer view. Or an on-site getting-ready suite for the wedding party. Or a late curfew so you can party into the wee hours of the morning! Having a shortlist of things you truly want will naturally narrow down your venue options. Communicate your must-haves to the venues you’re considering right off the bat to see if they’re able to accommodate them. Doing this early helps avoid disappointment later!” – Jenna Miller, Creative Director of Here Comes The Guide

Identify whether or not you’ll be providing transportation. “This might seem like a luxury, but a lot of venues don’t possess a huge parking lot for guest/vendor vehicles. When alcohol is going to be involved, consider contracting a transportation vendor (with AC!) for your guests to arrive and depart on time and in style.” – Ashley Lachney, Owner of Alston Mayger Events

couple kissing by bougainvillea bush in California Vendor Credits: Planner: HoneyFitz Events; Photographer: Lauren Newman Photography; Venue: Quail Ranch; Florals: Unique Floral Designs

Remember: upfront guest counts are always worth the effort! “You don’t need to actually send invites and collect RSVPs before touring a venue but you will want a rough idea of your invite list (for estimates, consider that last year couples booked at venues with Weven planning portals had RSVP rates of about 85% “yes”). Many venues today make certain parts of their property available to different size weddings and charge differently for each. You don’t want to book a venue just to realize the drop-dead gorgeous cocktail area is too small for your final guest count.”  – Sam McElhinney, CEO Weven

reception set up in green backyard under a oak tree next to a spanish style white homeVendor Credits: Planner: HoneyFitz Events; Photographer: Lauren Newman Photography; Venue: Quail Ranch; Florals: Unique Floral Designs

Consult with your planner. “There are a lot of factors to consider when selecting a wedding venue, but our top tip for couples is to consult with a wedding planner first. Wedding planners are more familiar with what a venue has to offer, the layout, and capabilities of the space. Another important checklist item is to know your budget, as you’re not only inquiring about the venue but also associated costs that may be included, such as in-house catering and rentals or decor.” – HoneyFitz Events

Know that sleep matters! “And when it comes to weddings, that means think about accommodations for your guests early and often. If guests will be traveling to your wedding, make sure you feel confident with the local accommodations in the area before you book. Don’t be the couple asking guests to drive or sit on a school bus for an hour each way to the nearest hotel after a night of dancing! Weven guest surveys have shown that the ideal travel distance from a venue to local accommodations is 35 minutes or less.”  – Sam McElhinney, CEO Weven
bride with long sleeve holds groom's shoulder with tear drop diamond ringVendor Credits: Planner: HoneyFitz Events; Photographer: Lauren Newman Photography; Venue: Quail Ranch; Florals: Unique Floral Designs

Map out your budget. “For price point, our rule of thumb is that the wedding venue including catering, bar and necessary tables, chairs and linens should be roughly 50-60% of your total budget. The other half of the budget is needed for everything else including floral and decor, entertainment, invitations and stationery, transportation, cake, and so on. You’d be surprised how often people think the price at the venue is the total budget!” – Valarie Falvey, Kirkbrides Wedding Planning

Review any available floor plans or event flows a venue can share ahead of booking. “Not just seeing a space but actually understanding how it can be used will help you better envision your wedding there and shed light on which vendors might work, or not work, for that setup.”  – Molly Bradbury, Customer Success Lead at Weven

Be aware of what is included and what is not included. “Also, start and end times are important–you need to make sure to have enough time for setup and breakdown, or at the very least know what the extra costs are. This bites a lot of couples! Poor communication is always a red flag, as is frequent turnover or venues that don’t accept credit cards!” – Nora Sheils, Founder Bridal Bliss + Co-Founder Rock Paper Coin

bride walks out front door of Southern vintage building with white brickVendor Credits: Photographer: Amanda K Photography; Planner: Bridal Bliss

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