CRITERIA FOR EVALUATING WEDDING VENUES
Your wedding venue is the single most important, and one of the first decisions you will make in the wedding planning process. If you want to get married close to home, you may already be familiar with some of your options! If you are interested in a destination option, this will involve a little more research. As you begin to inquire to gather availability, start tracking the important elements listed below so you can easily compare options. This will ultimately make it easier for you to determine what is the best fit for your day.
the rental rate
This is the price you will pay to use this space. Some things to keep in mind when comparing rates:
How many hours does it include? What is the cost of adding additional hours?
What inventory does it include? Inventory meaning: tables, chairs, linens, a mobile bar, decor, etc
Is a venue coordinator included to assist you with floor plans, and other venue details?
We begin with one of the obvious criteria category, as this is a huge factor in the amount of guests that attend...which will impact your overall budget TREMENDOUSLY! If the majority of guests live in a metropolitan area or the surrounding suburbs, the closer your wedding is to the city, the more people will come. If you get 1 hour + outside the city, then many guests are forced with the decision of whether or not to get a hotel, decreasing overall attendance.
When choosing a wedding venue at a destination location, I recommend staying within 1 hour of the airport, so your guests (and you) are not tired from all of the travel. After all, you want everyone ready to celebrate!
Of course, you need to know how many guests you can host. But make sure to ask for both the seated and cocktail capacity! This is very important if you are considering a more informal reception. The floor plan for a cocktail style reception is much more open, and will allow for a higher guest count than a standard seated dinner reception. If you're having trouble narrowing down that guest list, this may be the best option for you!
the flow of events
Does the venue have separate functional spaces for the ceremony, cocktail hour, dinner, and dance? Will you need to flip the ceremony space for the dinner/reception? Will you need to tear down tables mid-reception to create a dance floor? If so, is there a cost associated with that?
the morning of your big day
Being able to get ready on site allows you to settle in and stay put for the rest of the day, which is a HUGE stress relief! Bridal and Groom's Suites also provide a space for many candid photo ops of the wedding party. If the venue does not have a space for you to get ready the morning of your wedding, where are the best, nearby options - and what is the cost associated with those?
the transportation logistics
Depending on your guests' demographic, choosing a venue with ample parking may be a priority for you. If you think that the majority of guests will not want to drive home, choosing a location close to the city where Ubers are readily available may be best the option.
the other venue dictated costs
When you are comparing estimates, make sure to get a quote for any other venue-dictated costs. For example, many wedding venues have in-house catering and bartending, or a short list of vendors that you are able to select. It is important to gather quotes for these services so you can get a comprehensive idea the costs associated with hosting your wedding at a particular venue.