Once you have your budget in place and a guest list sketched out, it is time to start hunting for the perfect venue. Here are a few things to consider to assist in narrowing down the list until the perfect choice emerges:
WHAT TO CONSIDER AND ASK BEFORE YOU TOUR.....
LOCATION: This one seems pretty obvious but deciding the general location you want to have your event in is crucial, whether it be a specific city or larger area. Having this general idea will assist you in narrowing down the options available for your event. Make sure to take your guests into consideration and if they will be traveling or need accommodations. When a large percentage of your guest list is out of town, your NO RSVPs will be higher.
AESTHETIC: What is the overall aesthetic you want for your big day? A formal sit down meal in a Ballroom? Or perhaps a casual meal in a Barn or Outdoor type space? Maybe you want a space with enough ambiance that you can limit decorations? Knowing your preference will continue to reduce your list of choices.
SPACE CAPACITY: Every venue has a limit to the amount of guests it can hold due to fire code. When looking at venues make sure that they can hold the amount of people on your guest list COMFORTABLY. If they say their capacity is 200 guests, that is the number with the room maxed out. Questions to ask about capacity: How many can you fit comfortably including room for the servers to do their jobs and for people to walk around? Does this include room for a dance floor or will tables need to be broken down after dinner to make room? Make sure there space for any auxiliary tables (gift table, cocktail tables, escort card table, cake table, etc.). You do not want your guests to be uncomfortable and cramming to many people into a space can be memorable but not the way you want your event remembered.
AVAILABILITY: If you have a specific date or time of year in mind ask in advance if the spaces you are considering at are available. The worst thing is when you fall in love with a venue but it is not open for your date. Some of the more popular venues will fill up as much as 18 months in advance so planning ahead is always important if you have your mind set on a specific place.
WHEN YOU GO TO VISIT:
WHAT'S INCLUDED: What is all included in the venue rental fee? Do they have tables and chairs standard with the price or is that additional? A dance floor or bar station? Is there a parking lot for your guests to use or do you need to rent a lot and hire a valet service? If these things are not included you could be looking at a lot of additional fees that could add up.
CATERING/BAR SERVICE REQUIREMENTS: Some venues have onsite catering and beverage services. This can be helpful and convenient if you do not have a preference for a certain caterer or want to limit the number of vendors you have to hire. Most venues that do not have onsite catering still have a list of required or preferred caterers for you to choose from. These lists usually provide multiple options of caterers in different price ranges and styles.
ENVISION: Can you envision yourself and your event in the space? When you walked in did it just feel right? Those feelings can help to solidify any doubts you may have. If you walk in and love a space, it fits all or the majority of your criteria and they have your date open, congrats you found your perfect venue!