Your answer to the Big Question was a resounding “YES!” You’ve found the perfect partner… now it’s time to find the perfect wedding venue!
But where do you even start? Most brides or grooms go right to Google. They start searching through tons of wedding venue options before they even really know what they are looking for in a venue.
Along with the information below, watch this interview with our founder, Shannon Tarrant, and wedding dress specialist Bri Marbais of The Bridal Finery sharing tips on how to start looking for a wedding venue and what are the most important steps to take first.
But when it comes to your wedding, you want to make sure you’re hosting the event of your dreams. Start by talking to each other (and possibly your family) about your vision for your wedding day and the things that are really important to you.
We know this is the worst part… but it’s the MOST IMPORTANT! Why torture yourself looking at a wedding venue if there is no chance of it fitting into your budget?
Weddings are expensive (worth every penny!) but they can be a sticker shock when you start researching. It’s time to have the real conversation with each other and anyone else contributing to the wedding. Having a general idea of your budget will save you time looking at and touring wedding venues that might break the bank.
(Tip: When asking family members how much they are planning on contributing, they often reply, “how much do you need for the wedding?” Be prepared with an answer before asking, just in case.)
THE GUEST LIST
The number of guests attending your wedding is the second most important piece of information to know before contacting venues. Make the big bad list including everyone that you would want to be a part of your special day: friends, family, co-workers. Be sure to review your list with your family to make sure you have not left anyone off.
(Tip: Take the big list and split it into an A-list and a B-list. The A-list are those guests you would be really disappointed if they weren’t at the wedding, while the B-list are the attendees that you might not notice weren’t there.)
THE VENUE STYLE
You have to start somewhere…this is the easiest place! Are you looking for a formal ballroom wedding with black tie and gowns, a country club wedding with cocktail attire like suits and party dresses, a beach vibe with resort wear, or rustic barn chic with jeans and boots? Whatever your style, make sure you’re both on the same page.
(Tip: Decor can transform any location. Chandeliers and drape can make a warehouse look like a ballroom. Don’t limit your wedding venue vision by what you see. Think bigger)
How far are you willing to go to find that perfect wedding venue?
Central Florida is a great location because there are so many wedding location options within an hour or so of driving. But maybe a destination wedding is what you prefer…that’s okay too! Talk to each other about what you think might work the best for you and your wedding guests.
(Tip: Remember that travel costs can affect who RSVPs yes. Make sure the most important wedding guests are on board with your plan either way.)
ALL IN ONE PLACE OR MULTIPLE LOCATIONS
Do you want your ceremony and reception in the same location or will the ceremony be in a religious setting and then the party to follow? Talk about the ease of the wedding day logistics and which one is your preference. Consider factors like whether your guests are local or out of town, what the timeline might look like if you have a late morning church ceremony and evening reception, and how you will be getting from one venue to the other.
(Tip: Give clear directions to your guests when choosing multi-location wedding venues. Remind them how to get from one location to the other and what time they are expected to be at the next venue.)
How long do you want to wait to get married? Consider the following: availability of wedding venue dates, whether you have the budget available now or need time to save, the weather, how much time you have to plan the wedding, and important guest travel.
(Tip: Some wedding venues are booked for prime Saturday dates 12-18 months in advance. Be flexible and consider a Friday or Sunday option if your first choice isn’t available.)
This is not the most important factor so we left it for last.
Many couples forget to think of the time of year affecting the wedding day timeline. Most experienced wedding pros recommend your ceremony start time about an hour and a half before sunset. This gives enough time for the wedding ceremony and your portraits before it gets too dark. In December, the sun sets at 5:30 pm which would put your ceremony at 4:00 pm and a reception end time around 10:00 pm. If you wanted your wedding celebration to last late into the evening, take daylight savings into consideration.
(Tip: Timeanddate.com is a great site to figure out the sunset time for your area)
We know, it can be a bit overwhelming. But by starting your wedding venue search with the right information, you are saving yourself time, headache, and stress. Ask yourselves the right questions and make sure you are on the same page. The journey to finding the perfect wedding venue is supposed to be a fun one. Now take a breath and let’s start searching!