Your wedding venue is one of the first (and biggest) decisions you need to make as an engaged couple. The rest of your wedding plans will be influenced by the venue, including vendors, decor, and even attire.
Not only is choosing the perfect site a vital step in planning, but the venue is also one of the most important parts of the big day. Your venue can set your party’s tone and ultimately impact the entire event, no pressure, right? Don’t stress — The Christy has got you covered! Here’s what you need to think about when choosing the perfect space.
1. Create a Budget First
Before making any venue decisions, come up with a draft budget. You might feel the urge to jump at signing a contract with a venue that seems to have a good price and is miraculously not booked on your dream date, but wait! You don’t want to end up realizing down the line that you can’t afford a different wedding necessity.
2. Decide if You’re a Venue or Date First Couple
Just like the chicken or the egg question, what comes first — the venue or the date? It all depends on preference. Would you rather get married during a particular time of year or snag the venue of your dreams? If you select the venue first, their availability will usually impact your date decision. Great venues typically get booked up 12-18 months in advance, so the sooner you get started the more likely you are to have dibs on your first choices that fit into your ideal schedule.
3. Make a Comparison Chart
It can get confusing trying to keep multiple wedding venue details straight, so make it easier on yourself and create a chart or spreadsheet for quick comparison. When deciding between your venue options, a spreadsheet will help you see which venue fits your bigger priorities.
Your comparison chart should include:
- Venue name
- Type (Hotel, ballroom, country club, outdoor, historical, restaurant, etc.)
- Layout (Can it accommodate aspects like the ceremony, cocktails, dinner, and dancing?)
- Time restrictions
- Parking and transportation (Is there enough space for your guests, how far will they have to trek to and from their cars, etc.)
- Facility extras (A/V equipment, chairs, tables, linens, etc.)
- Catering restrictions (In-house caterer or a preferred list of caterers)
- Website link (To easily remind yourself with photos on the venue’s site)
4. Know What Style You’re Going For
Venues direct the ambiance of your wedding day narrative, so having a style you want to portray in mind can help you select a venue.
If you’re more of a classic bride, you might want to choose an indoor setting like a grand ballroom.
If you’re wanting something more rustic, a venue like a barn, ranch, garden, or winery might suit your style better.
If your style is more modern, you might gravitate towards industrial warehouses, city lofts, and art galleries.
If you’re more bohemian, you might want an outdoor venue with a beautiful backdrop of the natural landscape, which could even reduce how much you’ll need to spend on decor details.
Pay attention to what you are (and aren’t) envisioning, that might just be what determines your venue.
5. Read Up On Reviews
You’ll want to make sure you get a clear picture of your potential venue, so look at reviews on multiple platforms. Consider taking your friends’ recommendations with a grain of salt — they could have vastly different tastes or budgets than you, so do your own research. Make sure to do this before visiting the venues to help you come up with questions to ask or know the warning signs to be wary of.
6. Check the Vendor Restrictions
Just because a wedding venue is great, that doesn’t always mean their small list of vendors is. Sometimes venues will charge an additional fee if you stray from the preferred list or not allow you to stray from the list at all. Make sure you know what you’re dealing with. Look into the vendors, read their reviews, meet with them, and taste test the catering — all before signing on with the venue.
For exceptional catering services and a selection of menus perfect for weddings of all sizes, contact The Christy!
7. When You Want Two Venues
If you’re scouting two different venues, one for the ceremony and one for the reception, try to make the transition from point A to point B as seamless as possible. Be sure to note the travel time between locations in order to plan a day-of schedule with realistic start times. Also, keep in mind which location you’ll be using for photos.
8. Think of Out-of-Towners
Accessibility is an important element of a wedding, especially when it comes to out-of-town guests who are unfamiliar with the area.
- Will guests be able to find accommodations nearby?
- Will they be able to make sense of the directions on how to get to the venue?
- Can they find transportation easily?
All of these factors should be considered when deciding on a wedding venue. No one wants to deal with a complicated mess, so err on the side of ease and practicality.
9. Know Your Venue’s Curfew
If your idea of a perfect wedding is dancing the night away to loud music, pay attention to the ending time the venue requires. Venues may have to obey noise ordinance restrictions that they do not set themselves. Maybe your reception isn’t a loud party but it still doesn’t feel like it’s over. Be sure to look into overtime fees before signing the dotted line.
10. Don’t Choose a Space that is Too Big
Obviously, you can’t cram 300 people into a venue that can only fit 150, but it is just as important to not choose a space that is too oversized for your event. You want enough space that your guests will feel intimate and comfortable, but not too much space that makes it feel empty and awkward.
11. What’s the Backup Plan?
When choosing a venue, you’ll want to know how they’ll handle the event if something out of your control affects Plan A. If you’re tying the knot at a location that may experience natural disasters like hurricanes, wildfires, or blizzards, will the venue provide a solution in an emergency situation? For less extreme inclement weather issues, you’ll want to confirm a venue’s ability to successfully execute a rain plan, for instance. Make sure you are also happy with Plan B’s space.
12. Ask About Renovations
When visiting wedding venues, ask if there are any scheduled renovations or large projects planned near your date or the time of year you are considering. The last thing you want is distracting construction noise or your gorgeous view to be obstructed. Even if there are none planned, that doesn’t mean something won’t come up. In the end, choose a wedding venue you feel confident in.
Wedding Reception Center
Selecting a wedding venue doesn’t have to be such a hassle. The Christy can provide a beautiful reception hall and delicious catering. Our St. Louis and O’Fallon locations offer flexible wedding packages that will fit your vision perfectly! Get started planning your big day — contact us today to schedule your visit!