Tips for Choosing A Wedding Venue

Client Resources, Wedding Venues


Choosing a wedding venue can be one of the most exciting and challenging decisions of the wedding planning process.  Not only are there so many options available but it’s the location that will set the theme of your entire wedding!  So I’ve put together a quick guide that will walk you through some of my tips to consider when choosing your wedding venue.

Choosing A Wedding Venue
American Civil War Museum- Historic Tredegar – Richmond VA
Choosing A Wedding Venue
The Lodge at Mount Ida Farm – Charlottesville VA

Set Your Budget:

  • Before you start your search, it’s important to have a clear idea of your price point and having a low and high range. Not only will this help you narrow down your venue options but it’ll help make sure you avoid falling in love with a venue that’s out of your price range.  Zola and other wedding registry websites have wedding budget planning tools that can be super helpful!

Determine Your Style:

  • Do you dream of an outdoor wedding with a garden backdrop, or a modern and sleek ballroom affair? Consider your personal style and the overall vibe you want for your wedding day.  Even if you don’t have a theme yet, just consider what fits right for your two.  Look at photo galleries of real weddings from the venue and call the owners and ask about what the general themes are for that location. This will help you narrow down venues that fit your overall aesthetic. 

Consider The Location:

  • This might seem obvious but it’s really important to figure out where you want to get married because it will also help you determine your overall guest count.  If you want a destination wedding, your guest count is probably going to be much smaller than if you decide to have a more local wedding.  On that note it’s also important to consider how close your venue is to accommodations for you and your guests if there isn’t lodging on site.  If a lot of your guests are from out of town, choosing a venue that’s 40+minutes away from any overnight accommodations is probably not going to be fun or is going to be expensive when considering transportation costs in your budget.

Estimate Your Guest Count:

  • Like I mentioned above, if you plan on having guests at your wedding it’s a good idea to determine a rough estimate of how many guests you might want to have before picking a venue.  If you know you already want a very intimate wedding you can always do this afterwards but if you’re looking to invite 50+ people, it’ll be better to have that idea before you say ‘Yes’ to the venue.  Some venues have a minimum guest count so if you’re not looking to invite a large list, it might be better to pick venues that can accommodate more intimate weddings.
  • On that note, some venues have different seated guest numbers vs standing guests numbers so make sure to ask for clarification if it’s not obviously written somewhere or discussed.

Venue Size:

  • This one plays off the guest count, considering the size of the venue – do you want an intimate space or a large, grand venue? Make sure the venue can accommodate your wedding party and guests comfortably.  There’s a different feel from a downtown space to a winery in the countryside.

On-site Accommodations:

  • When envisioning your wedding would you like to stay on location or do you want your venue to just be a reception space and you take the party elsewhere?  If the idea of getting to spend the weekend on site with your family/friends sounds like a blast make sure to look for venues who have on site accommodations.  It might seem ok to just plan to transport back and forth from your venue to the hotel but there’s nothing like being able to just enjoy your venue for the whole weekend without the added worry of transporting to and from other locations.

On-site Amenities:

  • One thing I notice that creeps up on couples is all that additional rental costs that come with a wedding.  When picking a place I highly recommend asking them what they have available on site and included in your wedding package.  Are you going to have to put up and tear down all decorations?  Do you need to plan to rent a tent from an outside vendor?  Do you need to provide seating for the ceremony?  There’s a lot that goes into making your day as special as possible and seeing what your venue already has will help you determine how much or little additional planning you’ll need to consider.
  • The next point gets into this but also asks if you’re able to bring in outside vendors like planners, florists, photographers, etc.  Some venues prefer to keep everything in house and do not allow you to use outside vendors.

Catering and Bar Services:

  • Continue the point above, consider the venue’s catering and bar services. Do they allow outside vendors or require you to use their in-house services? If you have to use in house services, make sure the food and beverage options fit your taste and budget.  Look at past reviews of how other couples liked those services or consider if those options fit your needs. 

Parking and Transportation:

  • Following up on location, it’s also very important to consider the venue’s parking and transportation options. Is there ample parking for your guests? Is it easily accessible by public transportation or ride-sharing services?  Is it out in the middle of nowhere so you’ll need to consider offering transportation to guests (and have to consider that in your overall wedding budget)?  All things to ask while interviewing at different venues.

Additional Fees:

  • Going off of on-site amenities, make sure you understand any additional fees associated with the venue, such as service charges, gratuities, or overtime fees. Be sure to ask about any hidden costs upfront and have them itemize your entire receipt.  Venues aren’t trying to trick you but sometimes there are costs you hadn’t even thought to consider that go into renting a venue.  Some of these additional costs may not even be associated with the venues themselves, so make sure to also ask this of any rental companies, catering, transportation, etc to see if there’s anything that you may not be aware of that might creep up on you.
CrossKeys Vineyards – Crawford, VA
Choosing A Wedding Venue
Red August Farms – Waynesboro, VA

Wedding planning can be stressful but it doesn’t have to be! I highly recommend getting in contact with a local planner for the area you’re considering and asking them for help and guidance for choosing a wedding venue!  They’re amazing local experts who can at least point you in the right direction and help take some of that stress off your shoulders. 

If you’ve got a few questions and just want to ask someone about it?  Feel free to message me and I’m more than happy to help in any way I can!  I’ve spent plenty of time researching our local area and am always happy to give recommendations.

Ready to start looking at venues?  I’ve put together a few lists of venues I like in the following areas:

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