The venue may be the single most important element you book for your wedding. Without a venue, there really can be no event at all! Dates book up months, or even over a year, in advance and should be one of the first bookings you make. However, choosing an event space should not be the first thing you do, as there are aspects to your celebration that need to be roughly figured out.
For instance, while you of course can’t have RSVP response cards back before you settle on a location, it’s a good idea to figure out who you plan to invite first, so you know how big the event space needs to be. Most venues will list capacity online, so you can narrow down your list before visiting a potential space. Though a fully itemized budget is not yet necessary, you and your sweetheart should also land on a rough spending limit so you know which locations are accessible. If you have a firm wedding date with a sentimental attachment in mind, call ahead first to see if the date is even available before touring the venue. Otherwise, a month of choice should be adequate. It’s also important to have already settled on your wedding style beforehand. Don’t book a barn for a Hollywood glam-themed wedding, and don't book a ballroom for a rustic wedding.
If you are having a religious ceremony, it is important to find out what the requirements are. If the nuptials must be held in a house of worship, be sure to decide on a ceremony location first. You don't want to book a reception venue and then fall in love with a chapel that is an hour's drive away!
Once you start visiting venues, be sure to compare the positives and negatives of a full-service location with one that is more of a blank canvas. Full-service venues are of course more expensive, but it means you will not have to allocate further spending on rentals, catering, drinks, or even a day-of coordinator. However, an event space without those add-ons allows you to have a more customizable day, not to mention that being able to choose your caterer and more may wind up saving money when all is said and done.
Visit your top choices more than once, and bring your wedding planner along, as they will know what to look for. Try to make an appointment for the same time of day that you will get married. Some places look quite different in the day versus the night. Next, you will want to find vendors or couples who have worked with the venue before (your consultant can help in this regard) and learn about their experiences. If everything seems satisfactory, it is time to begin the booking process.
Opening photo by Carasco Photography