Here‘s how you don‘t want to choose your reception venue, “eeny meeny miny moe”. As the hub for your wedding day and the biggest part of your budget spend, you want to make sure that your selected venue space meets all your wedding needs and expectations. And considering how many options there are out there, navigating through them efficiently is mission critical. Is it a challenge? Absolutely. Do you need to stress about it. Not with our handy checklist! Here are the top 15 things you want to consider in making your final decision as to where you’re going to be spending your big day.
The Venue Selection Checklist
1. Your Budget. Before you even step out the door on your search for the perfect spot, sit down and figure out how much you can and are willing to spend on your wedding. Don’t forget to include into the equation all the spend outside of the venue cost itself, i.e. photography, planning, entertainment, decor, etc. The average total budget usually works out to double your venue spend, and that’s just to cover the standards.
2. Your Expected Guest Count. Understanding your expected guest count upfront is important. Consider only venues that can meet your capacity requirements comfortably, while leaving room for all other logistical needs, like a designated dance floor.
3. Experience. How long has your venue been in business? How long has the current Management been in place? Given how much spend goes into your venue rental, you want to book with a space that comes with a strong reputation and experienced Management. Ask for referrals from previous couples and do your due diligence by searching for online reviews.
4. Fine Print. Before getting excited about a space carefully review their entire venue offering. Don’t be afraid to ask to see a contract to read through all the fine print. Assess what’s included with your package and what’s extra. If you’re on a tight budget look for a place that offers all your standard reception needs, like tables, chairs, linens and dinnerware. If you have a substantial budget and are looking for a customized event ensure the space will allow you to bring in all your own rentals at no additional fee.
5. Exclusive Vendors. Find out upfront if the venue has a list of exclusive vendors, especially if you’re considering a customized event. An exclusive vendor list means you are limited to selecting suppliers the venue has partnered with, with no option to bring in your own resources. If outside catering falls under restricted selection, do some research into the caterers in question.
6. Permits. Are any special permits required to hold your event? If so, are you responsible for managing the process or will the venue handle it on your behalf and charge back the cost to you? Common permits include photography and alcohol serving permits.
7. Restrictions. Are there any event related restrictions you should know about? Whether it be an early end time, noise constraints or restricted candle use, make sure you are aware of all the things you can and can’t do on the day of.
8. Construction. Are there any plans for venue updates or upgrades? If so find out when they are scheduled to occur and when they will be complete. The last thing you want is for any part of the space to be under construction on the day of your wedding.
9. Neighbors. Take a look to see who or what resides around the venue. Is it something that could potentially impact your event? For example, if you’re planning an outdoor event and the venue of interest is near an airport make sure you’re familiar with the noise levels you can expect on your wedding day.
10. Style or Theme Fit. Does the overall look of the space fit the style or theme you’re planning for your wedding? Consider the color scheme throughout the space and make note of the flooring / carpet and all permanent fixtures. If these things don’t work with your target style consider moving on. It costs a lot of money to transform the look of a space.
11. Onsite Coordinator. Is there an onsite resource who will be responsible for your event from start to finish? If so make sure you meet with this person before signing the contract, to ensure you’re comfortable with their personal offering. An onsite coordinator is someone you’ll spend a lot of time with and who’ll play an integral part in making sure your day comes together as planned.
12. Space Exclusivity. Will your event be the only one hosted within the space that day? Ideally you want complete exclusivity of a space and its resources. If multiple event accommodating venues are something you’re considering, assess what areas will have to be shared, i.e. entrances and bathrooms.
13. Outdoor Venue. Indoor Option. If you’re planning an outdoor wedding assess what the indoor backup plan is in case weather becomes a factor. If the answer is a tent, confirm who will be responsible for arranging for one and any additional rental requirements that come with it. Remember to factor in the additional cost of the backup plan into your budget.
14. The Extras. Review all the extras that a space offers that others may not. Pay special consideration to locations that can accommodate an onsite ceremony in a designated area, as well as one that has a great spot for your wedding photos. Minimizing travel from location to location on your wedding day always goes a long way in how successfully the day pans out and how stress free it is.
15. Plan Your Visit. Before going to any venue visits take the time to think through all the things that are most important to you for your wedding day as a whole and from your selected wedding venue. Write down any questions that come to mind, remembering no question is too silly.