When it comes to figuring out how to choose the perfect wedding venue for your big celebration, it can be an overwhelming experience! As a Seattle Wedding photographer with 8 years of experience, I wanted to give you some pointers on what to look for at your venue. There are so many factors to consider when you are looking at wedding venues and many questions you’ll want to ask yourself and the venue owners to clarify if the space is right for you.
At the end, you can check out my favorite Washington Wedding Venues and my favorite Seattle Wedding Venues. I’ve photographed celebrations at all of these, so you get to take a peek at what your wedding could look like there! Not to mention, I also made a downloadable venue questions PDF for you to take on your venue tours!
Let’s dive in!
WHERE TO START
Most couples have never been married before and don’t know how to choose the perfect wedding venue, but guess who does; Wedding Planners! That’s right, a single human can save you a ton of time when it comes to choosing a venue. I suggest working with planners, not only for their expertise in local venues, but they more than likely know so much about how your specific guest count, design vision and activity plans can all fit into different venues. They have the inside scoop about ownership, service quality and so much more. Not to mention, planners make your lives so much easier by handling the majority of task for you. What does that mean? It means you can actually ENJOY the wedding planning process. Leave the nitty gritty to the professionals, we got you.
This is by far the easiest way to eliminate venues. On websites like TheKnot or Wedding Wire, you can filter venues based on headcount. This is also a great number to know when you start talking to other vendors like rentals, catering and invitations. Costs add up and you don’t want to blindside yourself by accidentally adding on an additional 50 guests last minute if you don’t have the capacity or the budget to do so.
KNOW YOUR BUDGET
Deciding the ballpark for your budget is critical before you head out for any venue tours. It’s the worst when you fall in love with a place that is beyond your budget and won’t start your experience on a good note. Knowing your budget empowers you to what will and will not work for you. A few things to think about when it comes to that budget number:
- How many hours are included in the rental budget?
- Are tables & chairs (or other rentals) included?
- Do they have in-house catering? Are their dining or drink minimums.
- Do they include staff?
- Are you able to add more hours?
- Do they have getting ready rooms on site?
- Do they help with set up or tear down?
- What’s the payment schedule?
These specific questions will help you know what bang you’re getting for your buck. If a venue doesn’t include chairs or tables, that will then become another category in your budget to account for.
While figuring out how to choose the perfect wedding venue, it’s also important to think about your guest experience. Specifically, does the venue have on-site parking? Often times, urban or city venues only offer street parking. Your guests could have to park far away and walk in. Do they have enough bathroom facilities for your guest count? Nothing more awkward than too few bathrooms for a long day of celebration.
Other guest experience factors could include, are you all outdoor or all indoor? Do you have shade or rain coverage for outdoor events? Does the venue offer overnight accommodations so no one drives home late? Making sure that your guests will be comfortable and have what they need will ensure a great experience overall.
CAN YOU SEE YOURSELVES THERE
While your parents and friends might have opinions on where they could see you getting married, it ultimately is up to you and your partner. What resonates with you as a couple? Do you love the outdoors? Are you city slickers who prefer the cityscape to the mountain ridges? Doing several venue tours before selecting a final venue is important because it gives you time to compare, think about and ultimately decide without haste.
The final piece of advice I have for knowing how to choose the perfect wedding venue is to trust in lord Google. Look for wedding blogs from photographers at your venue, look for Google business reviews and even check the BBB so you know they are legit. Finding out about any bumps in the road that might happen is great knowledge to have before walking in. Exploring wedding photography blogs featuring your venue will give you an inspiring visual experience of what your potential wedding could look like and give you ideas for photos for your photographer.
Knowing how to choose a perfect wedding venue isn’t easy if you’ve never done this before. There will be so many opinions, options and overwhelming decisions that it’s important to take it slow. Venues bring a big price tag and it’s important that you choose wisely. Start with talking to a planner, figure out your budget, ask the right questions, considering your guest experience, your personal preferences and of course, Google everything. Feel free to reach out with any questions you might have about searching for the perfect venue. Don’t forget to check out my favorite Washington Wedding Venues and my favorite Seattle Wedding Venues!