When deciding on a wedding venue, there’s more to consider than whether wedding sparklers will complement the décor and nighttime ambiance of the architecture. A lot more. To help, here’s a list of seven things that should play a role in how to choose a wedding venue.
1. Number of Guests (and Their Mobility)
The first part of how to pick a wedding venue is pretty easy. Just filter out all the wedding venues that don’t have enough room for the number of guests you’re inviting. You can use your invitation list, or this useful equation to estimate how many people will attend. (After all, you’re probably going to have some obligation invites sent out to people who won’t or can’t come but who you need to invite anyway as a matter of courtesy or politics.)
The second part of obtaining wedding venue information requires determining if any of the people on the invite list have any mobility issues. Elderly family members who can’t walk long distances, for example, or those with disabilities who need wheelchair access need to be accommodated.
2. Location vs. Effort
Everybody wants a beautiful wedding location. But you really need to think about what that means in terms of effort for you and your guests:
- Will you or your guests have far to travel or will the travel be difficult? Destination wedding ideas like Hawaii are beautiful, but they’re also remote, require a long journey, and are expensive.
- Likewise, what about the additional coordination? A quick, inexpensive trip out to the country for a wedding in nature can still mean a lot of effort from you in terms of pulling it all together (even if you have a wedding planner).
- Can your caterer prepare food on premises, or will he have to bring it already cooked?
- What about DJs or musicians? Will they have easy access to bring in their equipment?
- And what if you want sparklers for your wedding reception? Not every venue allows them, so you’ll need to do some research and choose your location wisely, based on how much effort it will take from you to get the exact kind of wedding you want — or the one you can live with.
3. Religious vs. Secular
Let’s face it, weddings are meant to be your special day. But that doesn't mean you can do whatever you want, especially when it comes to religious or secular weddings:
- Traditional religious ceremonies may have to be held in an approved place of worship and may have guidelines for decorations, music, and other features.
- For spouses with different religious beliefs, you may want to compromise and decide on a wedding venue in a neutral location.
- For secular weddings that retain a spiritual element, take a closer look at a natural setting, such as a beach (be sure to research permits)
4. Separate Spaces for Different Activities
When deciding on how to pick a wedding venue, it’s important to make sure that it has separate spaces for all the things you want to do. That includes the ceremony, eating, dancing, music, and maybe even a display area for that huge wedding cake with heart-shaped sparklers you've been eyeing.
Each space should be big enough to handle your guests and organized in such a way as to preserve the flow of your party. So watch out for oddly-shaped rooms and obstructions.
5. Power, Lighting, and Sound
Nothing says “oops” quite like a wedding ceremony in a venue that doesn’t have enough power outlets, where the lights aren’t bright enough, and where the people in the back can’t hear. When picking a wedding venue, make sure there’s ample power, lighting, and sound. You may need to augment the venue’s capabilities if not.
Parking for a big event —any big event — is a drag. But when people are dressed to the nines for your wedding, poorly-planned parking is a grade-A hassle. Make sure your guests don’t show up with a frown from waiting in line to park or parking blocks away from your venue and having to double-time it just to make your vows. Make sure parking is solid, and hire a small army of valets if you need to.
Nobody wants wedding crashers or TMZ-like paparazzi at their wedding. Or people off the street who stumble into your ceremony after a few cocktails and ask where the bartender is. Make sure your venue has security if you need it. It may seem uptight or unnecessary — until you need it.
Do you have any additional considerations you’d like to share when it comes to choosing wedding venues? Give us the low down on your wedding venue ideas in the comments.