With so many wedding venues available, you’d think choosing one would be simple, but it never is.
There are so many factors to consider when choosing where to hold your wedding reception and, if even one doesn’t suit your wedding requirements, it’s usually enough to have that reception centre, garden or church hall struck off the list.
So, to avoid the disappointment of having to see – and then reject – what seems like the perfect wedding venue, here are 10 questions (in no particularly order) that you should have the answers to before you go venue hunting.
1. Is the venue available?
This is the most important factor to consider when choosing a wedding venue.
Some wedding venues and public gardens are booked years in advance, especially around holidays or for particularly special days such as Valentine’s Day.
If your venue of choice is not available on the date of your wedding and you’re dead set on holding your wedding ceremony or reception there, you will either need to change your wedding date or search for a new venue.
Once you have found the perfect wedding venue and and know it is free, book it immediately to ensure nobody else books it for your big day.
2. Is the size appropriate for your guest list?
Picking a venue that is the right size for your festivities is essential when planning your wedding and reception.
The last thing you want to do is have your guest sitting cheek to jowl because your venue was too small for the group you are inviting.
Pay special attention to the capacity of any venue you are looking at before booking and ensure that it has space for the activities you’re planning on holding.
3. Is it friendly to your budget?
There are countless venues to choose from for your wedding, and some will be more appealing. However, the reality is not every venue will fit within your budget.
Determine what you can afford per head before contacting venues as this will avoid the frustrations of falling in love with a wedding venue you simply cannot afford.
4. Is there nearby accommodations for guests?
If you are planning on holding your reception somewhere a little further out than usual or if you have lots of guests coming from overseas or interstate, consider whether your venue has its own accommodation or is near accommodation that will allow your guests to stay overnight.
It’s one thing to hold your dream wedding in a charming castle or country estate, but if your guests are unable to call taxis afterwards or get to accommodation, especially if they’ve been drinking, it will end the evening badly and you don’t want your guests being unsafe.
5. Is there in-house catering?
Whether you are going to serve a full four-course dinner or have some type of buffet with snacks, you need to know if the venue you are looking at has an in-house catering service.
If they do, can they provide you with menu options to suit your guests, including vegetarians, gluten-intolerant guests or those with religious food requirements.
If there is no in-house catering, you will need to add another job to your list, finding a caterer.
6. Is access to the venue easy?
We’ve talked about an aspect of this factor above, but location isn’t the only consideration. Is the venue you are looking to book easy to find? If it is located too close to busy streets? Will that cause unnecessary frustrations to the wedding party and the guests? Try not to book a reception venue that is too far from the wedding venue as convenience is crucial for you and your guests, but it’s likely you’ll be taken care of as far as transport is concerned.
This won’t necessarily be the case for guests who don’t have transport etc.
7. Is there sufficient parking?
Is there adequate parking for all of your guests? If parking is lacking, find a nearby parking lot available on your wedding date where you can, perhaps, organise a shuttle service to your venue. Again, there are safety concerns too, as you don’t want your guests wandering the streets or in lonely car parks in the wee hours.
8. Are tables, chairs, and other essentials provided?
When choosing your venue, don’t assume everything you see in the pictures is included. While most venues will provide chairs and tables, extra costs may be involved when it comes to dancefloors, cutlery and glasses as well as table decorations and linen. And not all venues will provide these things, so be sure to ask what is included and what you must source yourself.
9. Can I serve alcohol?
Find out if your reception venue allow couples to serve alcohol. Permits are required in many circumstances and, without one, you won’t be able to serve any alcohol. Some venues require the couple to source their own permit.
Also, check if you can bring in your own alcohol. Many venues don’t allow you to bring in your own alcohol.
10. Are there back-up plans in the event of an unexpected weather incident?
When it comes to outdoor receptions, whether you’re holding it in a public garden or a physical reception venue, be sure to ask whether there are any wet weather options in the event it rains or is too hot or a storm develops etc.
While most venues have other rooms that you can run into in the event of an unexpected weather incident, in some places, you’ll need to organise a marquee or some sort of back-up yourself.