How to Narrow Down Your Wedding Venue Search
The wedding venue search is one of the most important parts of early wedding planning. After all, your venue sets the tone for the whole event. And it usually takes up a significant chunk of your budget too. No pressure, right? With so many fabulous venues available around the globe, the whole process can feel pretty daunting. And that’s without all the complications that come along with a global pandemic! Many couples who have started the venue search online are finding themselves overwhelmed and unsure whether they should even go ahead with wedding planning. In fact, now is the perfect time to take advantage of a quieter time for venue staff to help you in your virtual search. But the real key is in knowing what you’re looking for. Having a clear idea of what you want will help you narrow down your wedding venue search significantly!
Here are some of the things you should consider to help you turn those infinite options into a more manageable number.
Location, location, location. One of the first things to consider is where you want to get married. Whether it’s your hometown, the city you live now, or some far-flung tropical island, you’ll need to know where to look. Right now, you may be thinking locally to mitigate potential travel issues. Think about your guests and specific areas that are convenient for them and for you. For a destination wedding, start by narrowing the search to a single country, region, or type of destination. Considering the time of year and weather in those destinations will help you cut regions as well.
Venue size. The next consideration is whether a venue will cater to your number of guests. For this reason, it’s a good idea to have a general draft of your guest list before you start the wedding venue search. This will immediately help you eliminate venues that are too small (and sometimes, those that are too big!). This will also ensure your cost-per-person doesn’t exceed your budget when you run the numbers. Don’t be afraid to ask a venue what measures they are taking to support social distancing requirements, and how this may have affected their capacity. And if they take a little longer to reply to an email or inquiry these days, don’t take that as a sign of service issues. Many of the sales staff have been cut down temporarily and keeping up takes a little longer than normal.
Budget. Before you start, it’s also important to have an idea of your wedding budget. You don’t want to fall in love with a venue, only to find that it’s out of your reach. (Top tip! Pay any deposits or installments with your credit card so that you have some extra payment protection built-in, and points too!)
Look and feel. You may be open to a variety of venue styles. Or you may already have a specific theme or look in mind. Either way, it’s always best to work with the style of your venue instead of trying to turn it into something it’s not. The sky’s the limit if budget isn’t a concern, but let’s be real – it always is.
Special requirements. These are different for every couple, but examples include onsite accommodations, an outdoor ceremony site, curfew limitations, the ability to work with external caterers, religious restrictions, ADA considerations, and more. Take some time to list your non-negotiables and eliminate those venues that aren’t compatible with your unique event needs. Again, be sure to ask how each potential venue is working to support couples at this time, and any special measures they are taking to protect you and your guests.
Availability. Once you’ve done some research, it’s time to reach out to a few venues and find out about availability. The sooner you are able to do this, the better. Remember that venues often book up a year or more in advance. This will likely be especially true in 2021, so consider more flexible options like Sundays or weekdays if the venue you choose is fully booked.
Following these steps should leave you with a solid shortlist. After that, it’s on to the next part of the wedding venue search: site visits. Usually, I would advise you not to book any venue without an in-person tour. That might not be an option for you right now, but many venues are offering advanced virtual tours to help couples with their wedding venue search. Be sure to supplement these by asking to see past wedding footage, and researching blog features and reviews to get as much information as you can.
Happy venue hunting!
Image by Amy and Stuart Photography