I recently got married and I could not have picked a better venue. It was absolutely perfect for me and my husband. It totally checked all of our boxes because we knew exactly what we wanted. It’s funny because some friends of ours got married about 5 weeks after us in one of the venues we looked at and almost booked. And even though they are both farm venues, they were completely different feels. That’s why it’s important to ask yourself what you really want when choosing a wedding venue. In our case, we knew we wanted something outdoors and rustic but not too fancy or too country.
So ask yourself: What do you really want?
What’s more important? When you’re having the wedding or whether it’s inside or outside? Can you be flexible on the date?
If it’s important to have the wedding in the summer then maybe choose a venue that’s indoors, so guests are not too hot. Or if you know you want it outside, choose a time of the year guests will be comfortable outdoors – maybe that is the summer where you live. Nate and I knew we wanted an outdoor wedding so we chose a December date crossing our fingers that it’d be cool enough in Florida.
How many people are you inviting?
If you’re inviting and counting on 200 guests then you’re going to need a bigger venue. If you want something more intimate, say less than 100 guests, you don’t need a big ballroom. And you’re going to want to know if the venues you’re looking at have a minimum or maximum guest threshold.
Do you want the Ceremony and Reception in the same place? (or nearby)
Having the ceremony and the reception in the same place like on a farm or beach makes planning easier. It feels more cohesive, it’s easier for the guests, and it’s probably cheaper than splitting the cost between two venues. But you don’t have to do that. Lots of people have them in two places and you shouldn’t feel limited or pressured if you like one place for the ceremony and another for reception. Planning might be trickier but ask yourself if this is a priority and if it is, make it happen.
How much do you want to spend?
This is one of the most important questions! Are you working with a tight budget? If so, do research and get quotes before you look at a venue and fall in love with it only to find out it’s over budget. Better to be disappointed behind a computer than on the property with a contract in one hand and your checkbook in the other.
How much work are you willing to do?
If you are working with a tighter budget are you willing to do more work and spend less? You can choose a free venue like a state park, a garden, or even a backyard. But you’ll have to do more work when it comes to setup, dealing with vendors, and decor. I’ve even seen people renting big houses or mansions to avoid a wedding cost.
If you’re not willing to do that much work, try finding somewhere that offers an all-inclusive package or at least somewhere with an onsite coordinator that you can work with.
Do you want to take your wedding photos there?
Is this something that’s important to you? This is was actually a large deciding factor for a wedding Nate and I didn’t choose. They didn’t have a nice area to take photos and that was a deal breaker for us. But you may want to take your photos someplace else completely, it doesn’t have to be a deal breaker.
Do you want a destination wedding?
Do you have somewhere special you want to get married but it’s far from home? Destination weddings are amazing but there are even more things to think about. How far away is it? Are the people you really want there going to be able to make it? You’re also shaving quite a few people off the guest list with travel. Not to mention grandparents and older relatives are less likely to travel. Are children invited to the wedding? If not, parents may be less likely to leave little ones at home for a long distance trip. Are there enough local accommodations for all of your guests? Do you want to ask your guests to spend more money to be there?
A friend of mine wants to get married in Iceland but there is only enough space in the venue and bed and breakfast for about 20 guests. Plus, since it’s international, he’s not expecting gifts or having a wedding party hoping guests will be able to cut down on spending costs. Other friends of ours had their wedding at Copper Mountain in Colorado. The resort was more than equipped to accommodate guests and was within driving distance for most of the guests which meant they didn’t have to fly. It’s all about preference and what you’re looking for.
How do you want it to feel? What kind of ambiance are you looking for?
Do you want your wedding to feel elegant and tasteful? Do you want a rustic barn wedding? Do you want a Pinterest perfect wedding? Do you want something intimate? Do you want something fun and energetic? Something traditional or bohemian?
For our wedding, we knew we wanted it to feel romantic – like an enchanted forest. Having it at a barn in the forest by a lake made it feel that way – rather than having it at a farm with expansive lands and a ballroom, which was too fancy for us.
At the end of the day, your wedding is about celebrating your love with the people you love. After my wedding, I’ve become an advocate for the big wedding. Because at some point during the planning process I’m sure you’ll find yourself contemplating eloping but trust me, it’s all worth it.
Related: I Got Married
What are you looking for in a wedding venue? What did you choose for your venue?
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Christina is a twenty-something living with her beagle, Mash, and husband, Nate in their van. She loves traveling, shopping, art, and photography. She’s also a vegetarian, pop-culture enthusiast, book-lover, and Dave Matthews Band fanatic. Catch her somewhere around the country in a converted camper van or at home in Florida for a visit.