How to Select the Right Venue for Your Ceremony

A checklist to help you decide what is important to you in this pinnacle planning step.

How to Select the Right Venue for Your Ceremony

Photo: Vue Photography

First-time brides and grooms are often fairly overwhelmed by the initial weight of wedding planning – where do you even begin? What’s important to get out of the way first? Do you base certain decisions off of others already made? It can get stressful in a hurry. Thankfully, that’s where Inside Weddings comes in quite handy! After determining a budget – and perhaps a preliminary guest list – the next step is to select a venue or venues for your big day. If you decide to separate your ceremony and reception, you’ll need to go through the process of choosing a site twice. While going through the motions of researching venues, we’ve put together a checklist of everything you need to keep in mind as you click, call, and tour each respective venue.

-   Fits your visual preferences/concept. First and foremost, and this should be a no-brainer: do you like the place? If you’re looking to host simplistic, laid-back nuptials and the venue you’re looking at is a grand ballroom with all the trimmings, it may not be the place for you. Of course, there are ways to create your desired motif in practically any space – professional wedding planners are actually quite skilled at this – however, there’s no use in making the process unnecessarily more difficult.

-   Location, location, location. The “where” of your wedding is pertinent in the grand scheme of things. This will likely dictate who among your invited guests will be able to make the trip, so consider how many out-of-town attendees you’re planning for and estimate the chances that all of your VIPs – immediate family, bridal party, etc. – will be able to be present. So, while you may be in love with the log cabin deep within the Vermont countryside, expecting your California relatives to attend might be a bit of a stretch.

-   Availability. Do you have a specific season, month, or even date in mind for your ceremony? Check and make sure that you’ll be able to book the venues you are seriously considering during this time frame.  

-  Accessibility. Will all of your friends and family be able to get to/inside the venue? Some rural places are off the beaten path and, therefore, not accessible by a traditional road. If this applies to you, consider speaking with the venue about setting up a transportation service for your attendees. Additionally, do you have any guests with physical limitations? Is your space accessible to them?

-   Length of service. Determine the typical timing of a ceremony held at the venue and decide from there whether or not your planned “I dos” will fit. It’s important to speak with your officiant and put them in contact with the venue, if they are not already connected to the location.

-   Capacity. Will this particular location be able to hold the number of friends and family that are expected to attend?

-   Estimated Rates. You may not be able to access this information right away, as many places need more details from you before they can determine how much they’ll charge. However, if you can get an estimation by browsing online reviews or communicating with couples that have been married there, it will be beneficial in your decision-making – remember to stay within your budget!

-   Restrictions. Does the venue have any particular rules? This is common in many religious venues such as churches and synagogues. Once you’re aware, it will be easier to decide if the location has the right vibe for your nuptials, based on whether you agree to adhere to each set.

-   Rehearsal rules. What is the location’s policy on rehearsals? Will the space be available the evening before your wedding? How long do they allot for such events? Additionally, if you plan on a rehearsal dinner, what restaurants or venues are nearby that might make a good location?

-   What’s included. This point is mainly in reference to décor options: what kind of accoutrements – if any – come with this venue? What is their policy on vendors working within their space? It might be smart to have a vague idea of how you’d like to conceptualize the ceremony before you meet with any venues.

Find your team of wedding professionals here, see how modern families organize their ceremony processionals, discover Southern wedding traditions to incorporate into your big day, and browse gorgeous examples of floral aisle runners.

Opening photo by Chung Li Photography