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What's Up Weddings

The Hunt for the Perfect Venue: What to Know Before You Go

Apr 11, 2017 10:08AM ● By Cate Reynolds
By Tina Byland

Your ring still has that fresh-out-of-the-box sparkle, the congratulations are pouring in, and you are still sipping a celebratory glass of champagne. It’s time to start planning! Flowers! A rockin’ band! The cake! Your dress!

In order to make moves on planning, your first (and arguably most important) decision is going to be where you are getting married. Your decision will weigh heavily on how you manage your head and your heart. On one side, you will have a budget, a guest list, and even simple availability. On the other side, it is your wedding day! Such an emotional, important life step must be done in the right place.

So, here’s what you need to know before you go venue hunting. Consider this your arsenal of concerns to keep your head and your heart in check while you make your decision. Happy planning!


What You Really Need

List all of the spaces you need. These could include space for getting ready, the ceremony, cocktails, dinner, dancing, babysitters, rest rooms for guests, and even parking spaces for guests. Consider them all when choosing a venue.

Size Matters

It’s not just whether the venue can fit your guest list. But what does your venue look like with that many guests. Maximum capacity? Empty? Or just right?

Show Me the Money

Will they “soft hold” your date? And for how long? When is the deposit due? How about the rest of the money?
Photo courtesy of Birds of a Feather Weddings

Guest Comfort

Older venues, barns, and outdoor locations are gorgeous. But think about the time of year you’re looking at. Will there be issues with heating, cooling, bugs, mud, or otherwise unpleasant elements?

Hidden Costs

Take a look at a sample contract (or have them draft up one just for you). Look for hidden costs like taxes, fees, tips, or miscellaneous charges.

Contingency Plans

Even an indoor wedding will need considerations for weather. Ask about coat checks, valet service, and what happens in the event of a power outage, flood, etc.

Your Couple Style

Where are you going to feel the most comfortable? Are you a relaxed, easygoing couple that would feel best tying the knot at the beach? Or an urban couple that naturally spends their time in museums and city lofts? Your venue should speak to you, the couple.

Comparisons Matter

A quick online search should return a few recent weddings at each venue. Do you like what you see? Since these are not staged, styled shoots, you can get a good idea of what it will look like on your big day.


Your venue takes on the role of a character on your wedding day. It will be the backdrop for all of your photos. And it will set the mood for your guests. Make sure it is what you want.

First Impressions

Are you finding it easy to communicate with the venue? Do you get good vibes from the people you have met? Trust your instincts, because you will be doing major business with them!

Fight for Your Dreams

Negotiate with a grateful heart and you may surprise yourself with what you will be able to swing that otherwise didn’t seem possible. If the venue is the right fit, it will work out!

Color Schemes

What colors are going to compliment the place? Take note of what colors will clash, too. And if you are already set on your color scheme, make sure it will work with the space.