Choosing a suitable wedding venue is perhaps the part of the planning that requires the most brainstorming.
After all, the rest of the planning is only tentative until you have a facility secured.
Of course, successfully reserving the wedding location(s) for your clients is easier said than done due to factors like availability and all the other logistics.
There’s certainly plenty of things to think about when planning your wedding; there’s the date, your guest list, the dress and lots of big decisions like who will make up your wedding parties, such as your bridesmaids and best men.
However, one decision that you absolutely should not underestimate is picking your wedding venue. Let Boutique Events Group Wedding Venue help you create the most magical day of your life.
The location you decide upon is one of the most instrumental parts of your wedding, the base for your day, the backdrop for your wedding photographs and the place where memories of a lifetime will be created.
So, how do you make sure that you get this critical decision right?
What to Look for in a Wedding Venue
To help you, we have put together our guide to choosing a wedding venue, a helpful tool to make sure that you pick the perfect place for both you and your fiancée.
A quick tip before you begin, take your time.
As with any decision, the more research and time you can dedicate, the more rewarding the outcome; searching for your ideal wedding venue with no time restraints will be easier and a lot more exciting!
The Details You Need to Start Your Venue Search
It’s no good looking for a venue when you don’t fully know your requirements, address these areas at the start of your search, and you’re on to find a winner;
Every couple should do before embarking on their epic wedding planning challenge to figure out a realistic budget.
A budget may not sound like the most exciting consideration, but without it, you’re off to a more complex process, falling into the trap of many planning pitfalls and mistakes.
Start by dictating what you want your final wedding spend to be (plus a 5% contingency) and then begin to split up your budget into different areas alongside researching each element such as your venue, food and drink, photographer, dress, cake, flowers and many more.
To choose your ideal wedding venue, you need to know the number of guests you want to invite to establish whether you are searching for a venue with a capacity for 50-75, over 100 or a dedicated small intimate venue suitable for Micro Weddings.
If you have your heart set on a wedding for, say, 50 guests, ensure this is feasible by beginning to write down who you would like to invite.
Many brides had told us their envisioned guestlist number was not achievable when they began writing down names, as the number left no invites for vital guests or would divide family members.
This initial number of 50 can quickly escalate to 100 or be dropped down to 25, completely changing your venue search.
There’s undoubtedly no complex fast rules on who you should or shouldn’t invite; our most significant advice is to think about who you truly want there on your big day regardless of their relationship to you, i.e., friend, relative, colleague, neighbour.
Your wedding location is entirely up to you as a couple, be it your local area, miles from home or in a completely different country, but you need to narrow down areas before deciding on which venue is right for you.
Know Your Style
Your venue needs to match how you envisage your wedding. If a fairytale style comes to mind, you could consider a castle, villa or country house, whereas if you want an ultra-modern celebration, an industrial space may be more your style.
If you dream of a rustic wedding, then a venue right in the heart of the country is a perfect option; however, if you feel like somewhat of a city slicker, then there are plenty of city-based venues in which you can say ‘I Do’.
You can even find a wedding venue by the sea, at the top of a mountain, on a yacht or in the middle of a desert!
List the Things That Are a Must Have
While most venues have the same kind of offerings, some have different rules and regulations that you will need to keep in mind.
It is a good idea to sit down and draw up a list of all the things you will want from your wedding venue that is absolutely 100% non-negotiable.
Let’s take a look at some of the primary must-have considerations that could make their way onto your list.
Venues featuring onsite accommodation can be seen as a necessity, especially when hosting a wedding with most guests not local to the area.
A high number of venues offer excellent options for guests, from boutique styled rooms to trendy glamping.
If you want to host your wedding in a venue with complete privacy featuring just you and your guests, then you need to opt for a platform offering exclusive hire.
When it comes to hosting your wedding ceremony, the venue will need a marriage license for it to be legally recognised.
Some venues have several areas in which you can legally marry, whereas others offer only a symbolic ceremony.
A modern take on wedding celebrations is to enjoy a whole weekend of it; a vast number of venues now offer the weekend hire to ensure you can make the most of this special occasion.
If having your beloved dog, cat, or even horse present at your wedding is your thing, then you are in luck as there are some excellent choices when it comes to pet-friendly wedding venues.
If your life revolves around being eco-friendly, there’s no reason why your wedding can’t, with many venues adapting to eco-friendly ways.
Would you prefer your venue to include catering as a part of their service, or do you want to bring in your specialist caterers?
This mainly comes down to the preferred cuisine you want on the day; if you’re a real foodie, then the type of catering is undoubtedly going to feature as one of your must-haves. Looking for Wedding Caterers in Melbourne? Look no further, Boutique Events Group has you covered.
If hiring a band or acoustic performer is high up your priority list, make sure your desired venues don’t have a sound limit or don’t allow live music.
Another popular addition to a wedding day is to watch an epic firework display.
Some venues have strict rules against their use, so do your homework to make sure you’re not disappointed.
Availability for Your Chosen Date
Once you begin shortlisting venues, availability needs to be high on your priority list.
Some venues will have their most desired dates booked 2-3 years in advance, and as of 2020, postponements and cancellations have increased demand for popular dates.
Be realistic when it comes to dates; the more flexible you can be, the more options you will have.
Narrowing down to a couple of months across a particular year and stating you wish for a Saturday wedding is a good start.
Weekday weddings are indeed becoming more and more popular, and we love the appeal.
For one, it saves on your budget and weekends are seen very differently compared to centuries ago, with many industries requiring weekend work hours as a norm.
If guests want to come to your wedding, then they will regardless of the day of the week.
You may become fortunate but picking an actual date, i.e., 7th August, without any wiggle room, could leave you disappointed and can result in you missing out on venues that are perfect for you.
If it comes down to your dream venue or the date you want, only you can decide which is of most importance.
Things to Consider Before Choosing a Wedding Venue
Talk to a Planner First
Yes, before you start looking at spaces.
Planners are much more familiar with the capabilities of space, the layout, and the time and items you’ll need to transform it.
If there’s a creative way to make it unique or a quirk about the space that could make your vision hard to accomplish, your planner will know.
Choose a Venue That Aligns With Your Vision
This might seem obvious, but seek out venues that fit the aesthetic you have in mind.
If you’re planning a modern wedding, look at art galleries, well-designed restaurant spaces, or warehouses.
On the flip side, a wedding incorporating more natural elements works well with outdoor venues such as parks, backyards, and ranches.
Choosing a venue that fits in with (and enhances) your theme will enable your wedding to feel more connected to space.”
Know Your Guest List
Knowing how many guests you’re expecting to invite before you go looking at venues will help save you from headaches and heartaches down the road.
If you choose a venue that is too small for your guest list and more guests RSVP ‘yes’ than you can fit in the space, you might be in a challenging situation.
Couples often underestimate how many people they will invite (or how many their parents will want to add), so have that conversation early to know what you’re working with.
This will also help you break down your budget, as some costs are very dependent on the number of people you’re inviting.
Remember Your Budget
It’s more than just how much renting the space will cost.
Décor and floral design will also drive the cost up. Know how much your total budget is and approximately what your plan will cost to execute.
If adding that on top of the cost of using the space blows your budget out of the water, you’ll either need to scale back your design or look at more affordable areas.
Break down your overall budget by category, prioritising more funds for vendors that are a higher priority.
If you select your venue first and then realise it’s more than you should have allocated, it’s an uphill battle to stay within your budget when you still have a dozen other people to hire.
Choosing a venue will be one of the first wedding planning moves you make, so you’ll likely want to kick off your search on the earlier side.
But it all comes down to your personal preference.
If you are particular when it comes to the venue, the earlier, the better.
Great venues get booked up 12-18 months in advance, so the sooner you get started, the more likely you are to snag your first choice—that goes with all of your vendors.
Speaking of timelines, what comes first? Picking a wedding date or choosing a venue?
It ultimately depends on what is more important to you—getting married during a particular time of year or capturing the venue of your dreams.
Go into the venue search with two ranges of dates—ones that work (a favourite season, perhaps!) and ones that don’t (holidays or other conflicting family events you’d like to avoid)—if your timeline takes precedence.
But the majority of couples choose a venue first. Once you have a location, the date will follow based on availability.
Consider Your Guests’ Experience
If you’re inviting many out-of-town guests or having a destination wedding, look for a nearby venue (or connected to) a hotel.
And remember their comfort within the venue, too.
The maximum capacity of a room isn’t often a comfortable amount of space, so ask the venue how many people they can fit comfortably and what is allowed according to the fire code.
Think About What Is Included
If you’re looking at some full-service venues and somewhere you can bring in your vendors and décor, be sure to price everything out.
A venue with tables, chairs, and linens included might cost more upfront than a venue where you need to rent your own, but you should get an estimate from a rental company to see how they compare when you’ve added on the price of renting things for yourself.
And remember that the included rental items are often more basic (white linens, standard flatware, banquet chairs, etc.), so you may still end up paying more to rent items that fit your vision better.
And if you’re working with a venue that has in-house catering with a food and beverage minimum, be sure to include the tax and gratuity in your calculations.
Beyond a destination wedding—where some travel element is built into the event—you’ll want to be aware of your venue’s accessibility.
Can it be easily reached, or is it way out of the way? Will directions be straightforward enough for out-of-town guests (who are unfamiliar with the area!) to make sense of?
These factors become crucial if you do end up with two venues.
We like to stress the importance of making the transition from point A to point B as seamless as possible.
After all, lost guests mean an open cocktail hour!
Choosing a space that “meshes with your vision” is priority number one.
Ultimately, your venue’s style comes down to personal preference—and who you are as a bride.
Classic fiancées often gravitate towards indoor venues, like hotels, ballrooms, and country clubs.
Are you planning an event ripe with rustic décor? We recommend an outdoor, in-bloom garden or a winery with panoramic views.
Bohemian brides are the most likely to create their venue. They usually choose wide open spaces and build a platform from scratch with string lights defining the area.
Capacity limits can make or break a venue—you obviously can’t cram 300 people into a space that’s designed to accommodate 150.
The reverse is just as problematic.
The biggest mistake we see clients make is picking an ample space for their guest count, meaning they’ll have to spend a fortune to make it feel complete and intimate.
If you’re booking a ceremony and a reception space, make sure that both can fit your total guest count since the same guests should be invited to both the ceremony and reception.
This brings us to venue packages! Some sites don’t provide full service—think catering, bar, and staffing—which typically results in a lower-cost box (this is best for duos on a budget since you’ll be able to search for lower-cost outside vendors to fill in the gaps!).
If your venue package includes the works, expect to put forward about 40-50% of your budget to cover all costs.
To make sure you’re getting the most bang for that major buck, be sure to inquire about food and beverage minimums, site fees, and other billable components that could play a prominent role in your venue selection process.
This venue-related detail is all about crafting a positive guest experience.
From ensuring that there will be enough space to park cars—without your attendees having to walk a mile from your ceremony site and back—to checking in with local hotels to ensure that there will be vacancies nearby (a must, says Easton!), it’s imperative to guarantee that your friends and family will be able to travel to and from your event without any discomfort.
This detail doesn’t necessarily refer to when your party has to end—any thorough venue contract will clearly outline that.
It’s more about when the party has to stop.
It’s imperative to know noise ordinance restrictions before signing on the dotted line.
If dancing the night away to amplified music is a priority of yours, specific venues have restrictions based on various elements.
Meaning, does your venue provide one in the case of an emergency?
Suppose a planner isn’t handling this for you. In that case, you’ll want to confirm a cancellation policy if something happens to the venue ahead of the big day, especially if you’re tying the knot at a location that may experience natural disasters like hurricanes, wildfires, or blizzards.
It’s much less extreme, but you’ll want to confirm a venue’s ability to execute a rain plan, as well successfully.
Virtually all of our experts maintain that finding the venue comes down to a gut feeling.
If it keeps you awake at night, it’s all wrong. If it pops up in your vision of your dream day, and you’ve done your due diligence, it’s likely correct.
Stay True to Yourselves
With the influx of Pinterest weddings, many couples choose venues based on the style of a wedding they fell in love with online.
But it’s important to ask yourself what feels authentic to you two as a couple and choose a space and a design that represents who you are. Check out our ultimate list of Wedding Planners in Melbourne to help you organise a stress-free wedding.
And remember that, while a venue might have looked gorgeous with a different theme or design scheme, it may not be the perfect canvas for yours.