Venues 101


Shiny new bling. Check!

Engagement party scheduled. Check!

Dress shopping underway. Check!

Venue selected for the most important day of your life. Yikes!

Beginning the process of choosing your wedding venue can seem like a very daunting task indeed! It doesn’t have to be. With just a little planning and some honest conversation before you begin, it can actually be a blast!

Before you get a crush on that castle, barn or meadow you saw in a magazine, it is imperative that you talk about the B-word. Budget. Whether it’s a cost that you and your fiancé will share or if you have parents ready to write the check, the best way to avoid disappointment down the road is to get everyone on the same page right up front.

And, take it one step further. Is the number suggested as your venue budget meant to include the food and beverage or just the venue space? Is it meant to include tables, chairs and linens? For example, you might hear a budget number for your reception of $3,000 and think you’re doomed to being in your backyard with hot dogs and hamburgers for dinner! Yet, if that number is what is offered for your venue space only with the understanding that your food and beverage budget is another $20,000 on top of that, then the way that you shop for your venue will change!

With that pesky budget conversation out of the way, you can now move forward with narrowing your venue search. Now, you can go to your Pinterest board and start reaching out to your dream locations for more information. Most venues will not list their pricing on their websites because they want the opportunity to talk to you and to customize the ideal package for your needs. Do not hesitate to call or e-mail multiple venues to ask for their package details. Some of the information that you receive will help to educate you on what questions you should be asking when you visit.

As you receive package and pricing information from various venues, you can start to see how each venue fits into your Top 8 List of “Need to Knows.”

  1. Does it accommodate my anticipated guest list number?
  2. Can I hold both my ceremony and reception at the same venue? (Do you want to?)
  3. Is there a comfortable and picturesque place to get ready?
  4. What are my indoor vs. outdoor options?
  5. What is not included in the rental rate?
  6. Will there be dedicated staffing throughout the event?
  7. Does it fit our budget?
  8. Does it fit our style?

Please keep in mind that this is a much-abbreviated list of questions that can serve as a jumping off point for your venue research. You can find about 10,000 venue shopping checklists online that cover everything from pets in the ceremony to hot air balloon departures!

On our list, the number 8 question is truly one of the most important! With so many clever and “outside the box” ways to get married today, the styles of venues can be both exciting and a bit overwhelming. But, just because your cousin had her dream wedding onboard a sailboat doesn’t mean that you should. Be careful not to get caught up in a theme or décor style that doesn’t suit the two of you. Twenty-five years from now, you want to be able to look back at your wedding album with delight, not regrets! (See Forsyth Woman Engaged’s 2016 article for more about matching the venue to your personality.)

As with all-things-wedding, stay true to yourself as you research, investigate, visit and make choices. Yes, the BIG day is indeed a major undertaking, but don’t lose sight of what it’s all about. You, the love of your life and the start of you journey together.



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