Top 5 Rules to Picking the Perfect Wedding Venue

Top 5 Rules to Picking the Perfect Wedding Venue

Congratulations on your Engagement! When the flurry of excitement subsides and you’re ready to get down to the task of planning, one of the most crucial steps in the process is to procure the right Reception Venue. I always council my couples to have a completely comprehensive budget plan prior(within reason, things change) so that you don’t go broke on your Venue. Once you have that down, let the search begin:

Step 1. Be realistic. If your budget is 25k for 150 guests, don’t look at a Venue that is more then 5k or you will be taking from some other areas that will inevitably have a bearing on the final execution of your day.

Step 2. Location, Location, Location! Are you next to the ceremony site or Church. Make it easy for your guests as best you can. Obviously it’s your day and that is the major consideration but , try to keep it simple for your attendees. If you have out of towners it’s nice to scope out a Venue close to a variety of Hotels.

Step 3. Additional Costs. You don’t just have the Venue Fee to access. Bear in mind that many Venues do not have Chair & Table Rentals included. Do a little research and get a quote on exactly what you are looking for in these items. Note that some venues have preferred rental companies so get those on your walkthrough. Also, do they allow outside caterers and what is their alcohol policy. If a venue is on your short list, you will  need to get full proposals from their caterer to ensure you’re making a good overall decision. Budget aside, you want to know you’re dealing with a reputable company that is there when you need them. For bar, do they have a preferred bar company they work with or can you bring your own. Alcohol is where you’ll find taxes are the most heavy. If there is a preferred bar company, get that quote based exactly on what you are looking for. This along with the rentals are something that you should directly factor into the venue rate. If you are lucky enough to bring in your own alcohol or bar service, do your research. Check reviews on bar companies before you make a final decision. If you are B.Y.O.B. all together, go to and use their drink calculator to determine how much to purchase.  Keep in mind you will also need: ice, cups or glassware, soft drinks & mixers, and qualified bar staff. After you have an out the door on your expenses, compare that with the Bar Service and make your determination based off that.

Step 4. Flexibility. Find out what the Venue has to offer from additional rentals to policies and at what point changes can be made throughout the process of planning and if there are any penalties to change your contract. I like to get all of these documented in your contract to ensure you have them in writing. Getting responses via email are also good to reference back to.

Step 5. Use your gut. How do you respond to the venue when you walk in? This is an affair of the heart and you should use your emotional reaction to a space to finalize your decision, balanced with price tag of course. Additionally, consider the people at the Venue you are partnering with. You want to make sure they like every other partner on your day are pleasant or at least professional and will give you the service you are looking for.

So, get out there and start hunting. Don’t hesitate to contact a professional planner to give you some insight. At the Abbey, we offer complimentary venue searches and tours. It’s something I offer as I have a high percentage of out of town couples that can’t even get to town to see venues. This will give you a unique vantage point for  different spaces because  you get to see things through the eyes of someone who has executed numerous events at these venues, what works , what doesn’t and logistical items that may arise. Also, there are many sites that offer Venue suggestions but that can be only the tip of the iceberg in options.

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