Great wedding venues can be hard to find and even harder to pin down for the right dates. You need to know the important questions to ask. Typically, finding the perfect location to say your vows is one of the first things you need to look for because you may have to book months or years ahead to assure you’ll get your dream location. The most popular wedding venues rarely have openings for the year you book. You’ll find more options in the off-season, and it helps to be flexible on your proposed dates.
Before you start looking, it’s critical to decide what style you are looking for in a venue. A fantastic ambiance can elevate the whole experience. Ask yourself whether this will be for the ceremony only, or do you also plan to hold the reception on the grounds. The venue creates the ambiance and helps you decide what flowers will look best and where to seat your guests. The Ultimate Wedding Venue Checklist will walk you through every question you need to ask and help you find the right style and location for your big day.
What Is a Wedding Venue Checklist?
A wedding venue checklist helps you decide where to hold your wedding by providing all the essential questions you need to answer before booking any location. This tool will help you stay on track and ensure enough space for your wedding party. Moreover, it will give you an organized, systematic approach, so you don’t forget something vital in your excitement at spotting the perfect place to get married.
The Ultimate Wedding Venue Checklist
Everything you need to consider when seeking a place to get married is on The Ultimate Wedding Venue Checklist. At the end of each section, you’ll find the most important question you need to ask yourself or the venue manager.
Weddings, even small ones, need space for guests, wedding parties, seating, and more. The amount of space you have to work with is critical. It’s easy to underestimate how much room you need, so a good rule of thumb is to add 10-20% square footage than you think you need.
- How many wedding guests are you planning to have? Multiply that by 10, and you will get the square footage you need for seating. Don’t forget to add room for the aisle and stage or area where you’ll say your vows.
- How ample is the space you’ll get married in?
- How many chairs can you fit in the space and still offer everyone an unobstructed view?
- How much space is available for the wedding party?
The Big Question: Will (your number of guests) fit comfortably in the space?
Your personal style plays a big part in your wedding. It’s important to find a venue that really speaks to you, where you’ll b happy taking pictures you’ll cherish for the rest of your life. It’s a good idea to choose three to five venues in your preferred style and then inquire about all of them.
- Garden – Garden weddings don’t need so many flowers because you’re already surrounded by nature. These weddings are generally romantic and a little less formal.
- Ballroom – Getting married in a grand ballroom is a great way to have a dual-purpose space where you can have the ceremony and the reception. Ballroom weddings are classic and classy.
- Modern – Modern spaces are great for brides who like architectural style dresses and sleek surroundings. Modern wedding venues often have large windows with great views or unique futuristic appeal.
- Restaurant – Many restaurants close for weddings because they already have integrated catering and seating. Restaurant weddings are ideal for a semi-formal wedding where you can be certain you’ll have a superb wedding feast afterward.
- Beach or Outdoor Destination – Beach and destination weddings are perfect for guaranteeing that you’ll have enough space for all the guests you want to invite. The downside to outdoor weddings is that they require more planning for weather.
- Church – The traditional church wedding isn’t for everyone, but those seeking a classic, highly formal ceremony will love a church wedding. The nice thing about church weddings is that the seating is provided.
- Barn – Big Barn weddings are typically informal, but that doesn’t mean they can’t be rustic and lovely. Choosing this style means plenty of space for guests and tables.
- Museum – Museums come in all shapes, sizes, and styles. A museum wedding is a fantastic way to get gorgeous scenery and still have a non-traditional, fun, or classy wedding, depending on the museum you choose.
The Big Question: Can you envision yourself getting married happily in this location?
Location and Access
From destination wedding trips to venues right down the street, location always matters, but access is essential too. If you stay in town, most of your guests will be at home before the ceremony, and you don’t need to worry about hotel bookings. Unfortunately, not every city or town has the venue of your dreams, so don’t be afraid to look around.
- Is the venue available on the date you prefer? If not, do they have other dates you’d consider open for a wedding party?
- How far do you have to travel?
- Will the guests and wedding party need to book hotels to attend the wedding?
- How accessible is the venue? Do they have parking available? Who pays for the parking, or is it included.
- Is there public transportation for guests like a subway nearby?
- Are there other events or construction going on during your proposed wedding date? Do you have to worry about outside noise invading your event?
The Big Question: Can your guests and wedding party reach the event on time?
The budget determines everything when it comes to booking a venue for your wedding. You need to know how much you have to spend before you go shopping. However, there are other aspects to your budgetary considerations.
- How much is the deposit, and when is it due?
- What is the payment schedule?
- Does the venue offer discounts for weekdays or off-season weddings?
- Are there packages that include more like wedding plus reception, furniture included, or bar services?
- What is the cancellation policy? Can you get your deposit back if the situation changes?
- Does the cost cover gratuities for the staff?
The Big Question: What will it cost, total?
A suitable venue will have reasonable accommodations. They should have a backup plan for weather issues and power outages. Additionally, you should check for ramps, elevators, and other basic features that allow guests with movement issues or a bride in a wide dress to reach the ceremony.
- Are there ramps, elevators, and other easy accessibility for guests who have mobility issues? Do any of your guests need accommodations for mobility issues?
- What is the rain or inclement weather plan?
- How wide are the doorways?
- When will vendors or other people who are helping to set up your wedding have access to the site?
- Can the vendors you plan to use set up in time for your wedding if you have it here?
The Big Question: Rain or shine, can every guest and vendor reach their seat, setup spot, or station?
Contract and Legal
You should sign a contract for your venue. Not only is the contract standard, but it protects you against cancellations, double booking, and other possible last-minute problems. However, the contract mostly locks in your date and covers the venue against damages and loss, so read it carefully. If your wedding location has no contract, you should be wary. While that makes sense if you are having a ceremony at a restaurant that doesn’t host many weddings, most professional locations that hold events use contracts to set out the terms.
- What does the contract cover?
- Is there a cancellation clause?
- Does the venue have event insurance?
- Will you need special permits?
- Are there hidden clauses, especially the kind that come with hidden fees or unpleasant surprises?
- Do you have to use their services?
- Is there an approved vendor list, or can you bring in anyone you choose?
- Are there limitations on decorating?
- Can you provide your own alcohol? Is there a corkage fee for using your own bottles?
The Big Question: Are you and the venue both covered in an emergency?
Every wedding venue should have basic amenities like restrooms and a raised area for the ceremony. Some offer a lot more like an on-site bar or additional reception areas. Coordinating transportation is much easier if you can have your ceremony and reception at the same place.
- How are the restrooms? Do they have wide stalls in the bathrooms? Many wedding gowns need space to get through a stall door.
- Does the venue have climate control? You’ll want heat in winter or air conditioning in the summer.
- Is there a reception space?
- What does the stage or podium look like? Can your wedding party fit in the space?
- Is there a bar?
- How many outlets are available?
- Do they have outdoor lighting (if necessary)?
The Big Question: Does this venue have what you need and what you want most?
If you’re like most people who are planning a wedding, you probably have a million questions. However, as far as wedding venues are concerned, there are two essential questions that everyone should ask.
The most important factor while selecting a wedding venue is the size. You don’t want a small space for a hundred guests or a ballroom for a private wedding where only your immediate family are attending. For a standing-room-only crowd, you need 6 sqft per person, but if you want to seat people, you need at least 10 sqft.
You should expect to pay between $3000 and $11000 for your wedding venue. The price of the location does not include tables and other incidentals. If you want to include furniture, bar, and catering, you’re looking at more like $12000 to $15000 on average.
The ideal wedding venue would be in the perfect location, with plenty of space and stunning scenery, and it would be available on the exact day you need it. However, it’s a good idea to have one or even several backup locations in mind when you start looking for your wedding venue since the nice ones are often booked months or years in advance. The venue is typically on par with the cost of a bridal gown, or more, making this one of your most significant expenses. More importantly, it will be the background in many of your wedding photos and the place you will always remember getting married.