8 Things to Keep in Mind When Choosing a Wedding Venue

Selecting a venue for your big day is one of the first, of many, steps to planning your wedding. There are many different aspects that play a pivotal role when choosing the perfect host for your soiree. From budgeting to parking to vendor selection, you want to know what to look for. The following eight tips are the most important aspects to consider when assessing your options.

1.  Availability  

As you know, this is a critical factor when picking out your wedding venue!  Are they available on the day that you set? Venues book fast (up to two years in advance), so when you find THE ONE, you want to secure the spot as soon as possible. If your preferred venue isn't available on the date you set, is your date flexible? If it is, you can have the venue of your dreams just on a different day.  If it's not, time to keep shopping!

2. Price

Does your preferred venue fit within the budget you've set? On average, venues that do not provide food and beverage on site can cost up to thirty-five percent of your total budget. Those venue that do provide food and beverage on site, such as hotels, resorts, and country clubs, can run up to sixty percent of your budget or more. As a planner, I've seen too many couples misallocate much of their budget to a venue and leave themselves with no funds for the rest of the wedding. Those couples are what we call "venue poor". 

3. Capacity

When you find a venue, the next essential factor is the capacity. You want to ask the on site contact what the maximum occupancy is for your desired service style (ie cocktail reception, dinner, dancing, etc.) Having this information can guide you in creating your guest list. You don’t want guests to be squished or crowded.  A good rule of thumb is to never invite more people than the maximum capacity allows. 

4. Parking

Experiences in Colorado have taught that there are several venues that don't have ample on-site parking. Therefore, couples are forced to provide transportation for their guests to and from the venue.  If you procure a venue that does not provide an adequate parking solution for your guests, this will have a significant impact on your budget.  If there is parking available, you need to ensure there are a sufficient number of spots for everyone or inform your guests where overflow parking is located.  

5.  Preferred Vendors

It is important to know what vendors are recommended or even allowed at your chosen venue. Many places have a preferred list of professional vendors with whom they have worked and built relationships with. Some of those vendors are exclusive to the venue (you have to use that vendor).  A venue's preferred vendor list is generally well vetted but you need to make sure those listed fit within your budget. If you already found vendors, but they are not on the venue's preferred list, you should still be able to use them as long as they don't violate a relationship with an exclusive vendor. 

6. Plan B

Very important! It cannot be stressed enough how important it is to have a backup plan for your special day - especially in Colorado. When you are touring different venues, make sure their backup plan can accommodate ALL of your guests for unforeseen circumstances, such as adverse weather conditions. Whether it means setting up a tent for an outdoor ceremony or moving the ceremony inside to the reception room, it is vital to have worst-case scenario plans in place. You don’t want your festivities to be ruined due to poor planning. 

7.  Cancellation Policy

You may not think to ask your venue about their cancellation policy, but you can never be too sure! Knowing what the cancellation policy is for your venue and your vendors is essential. If the wedding has to be canceled due to environmental or personal circumstances, you want and need to be well informed of the venues policies. 

8. Special Provisions

Most Colorado venues have special provisions listed in their contracts regarding the dos and don'ts of your celebration. These can range from requiring a day of coordinator, to private event and vendor insurance, to flameless candles. Some venues even restrict flower petals down the aisle and the throwing of confetti or rice at the ceremony or grand exit. It's important to ask about any special provisions, for each specific venue, during your initial site visit.  

While the above tips are great to reference when selecting a venue you can never ask too many questions or be too thorough. Each wedding and couple is unique and it's important that your selected venue is the perfect fit for your celebration.   

Until next time,