5 Tips to Help You Choose Your Wedding Venue

Most couples say planning their wedding is one of the hardest things they’ve ever done. 
But we’re here to help you! 

But what do wedding photographers know about selecting a wedding venue? 

Couple Dancing at night under the pavillion at Le Belvedere
Le Belvedere

This is probably your first wedding, but we do this every weekend, and we’ve seen it all. As wedding photographers, we are the only vendor who is there from the first hair curl and mimosa, right to the sparkler exit at night, and we’ve learned a few things along the way.

Possibly the biggest decision you will make about your wedding, (other than who you will be sharing the rest of your life with), is where the most important day of your life will take place. 

We have put together 5 tips to help you narrow it down to create the vision you have always dreamed of. 

1. Capacity of the wedding venue

Before even looking at wedding venues, you should have a rough idea of how many people you will be inviting. Once you have worked it out, add 10% to your final number, just in case you have forgotten anyone. The number can be refined later, this just gives you a starting point to eliminate venues that are too big or too small. Avoid venues that will be close to maximum capacity for the consideration of your guest’s comfort. A good rule of thumb is to look for a venue that is at 80% full with your guest list (which is very likely to increase once you start full-on planning) 

2. Connect to your space 

Have you always dreamed of a fairy-tale wedding? Consider a formal ballroom or hotel. 
Are cowboy boots more your style? A rustic barn or country wedding may be more in line. 
You probably already have a good idea if you and your partner prefer a formal or informal wedding, or a more modern setting over a traditional or historic venue. This should help immediately eliminate those that do not appeal to the style of wedding you have in mind.

Newlywed couple sitting on a bench in front of a marina
Lago Bar|Grill|View

3. Budget

Your budget will play a big part in how many guests you invite, how big of a space you need and how much it will all cost. The cost is always broken down per person, so again, you need to know your numbers to get realistic pricing. On average, you can expect to pay 20% of your wedding budget on the venue, and another 20% on food and beverages. Make sure that the venue is clear on what is being provided for the price. 

Some things to consider: 
 – Is the venue providing tables and chairs?
– Linens, plates and flatware? If the event is catered, are all of these items provided by the caterer and at what cost? 
– Are there parking fees, security fees or insurance fees that you are responsible for? 
– Are taxes and gratuities included or extra? (This alone can add 30% on to your total, so be sure!) 
– Does the venue offer a discount for “off” days or “off” season weddings? 

Spend a lot of time here getting the finer details and know what you can afford so you can compare what is included. Sometimes a great deal can end up costing a lot more once all of the “extras” are factored in.

4. Availability

 This is often one of the biggest hurdles. If you are planning a fall wedding on a Saturday, you will need to have the patience to wait to say your “I-do’s”, because many of the more popular dates are booking 1-2 years in advance! If your date is super important to you, it may be worth the wait, otherwise you may have to narrow it down by season, or choose a less popular day of the week. 

5. Staff 

Depending on how hands-on / hands-off you want to be, your venue and the staff can play a big part in the wedding. 
Some venues do everything for you, some just rent the space to you. When it comes to decorating, some venues provide all of the decor using a choice of colours that you select, other venues may be willing to decorate with the decor you bring to them, or you may be completely on your own. If you are on your own, you will need to know when you have access to the site. Venues that offer more than one wedding per weekend will have limited, or no access the day before leaving everything to the morning of the wedding when you may be planning hair and makeup appointments. 

Service Staff offering a plate of food

Many venues also provide a day-of coordinator that will walk you through the necessary preparations and also be by your side throughout the wedding day to help things run smoothly. If not, ask for a recommendation for a coordinator who has previously worked at the venue and is familiar with the flow of the day.

The bottom line

Because such a large portion of your day and your budget will be spent on the venue, you will need to do your homework here. Visit more than once. Follow the venue on social media and check hashtags to see photos. Ask the venue for reviews and testimonials, and search reviews online. 

If you have any questions about wedding venues, we would love to help you! We have been to many of them!

Contact us or click below to book a time to do a virtual meeting with us. 

We have questions!

Hope to hear from you soon! 

Guylaine and Gord 
Avalon Wedding Photography 

If you like 5 Tips to Help You Choose Your Wedding Venue, or if you think this may help someone else you know who is looking for a venue, feel free to share it on your own blog or social media.

February 23, 2021

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