How to choose your wedding venue. Part one

Posted by on in Planning Tips
Outdoor wedding setting with wooden tables in inner court of old building
Outdoor wedding in southern France. Photo by Samuel Docker.

Matters to consider

Today, on this beautiful spring day I am taking time to discuss how to choose the wedding venue. Choosing the venue is considered (by the majority of wedding professionals and brides) the most time consuming and stressful part of wedding planning. But really, this should be no surprise, since I believe that the venue is actually setting the tone for your wedding celebration. Of course, you can shape it regardless of its style or architecture, but keep in mind: there is only so much one can do with something so set in stone.

Bride and groom at the entrance of a barn
Bride and groom at a barn wedding. Photo by Eden Strader Photography.

Also due to lack of thorough consideration, a clash could be created between your personal taste and the venue style, but we will get into that later. The process is as follows: first, you pick the groom and then the venue. Well, that is a slight exaggeration, but you get the point: it is vital to book your site before anything else. And anyway, there isn't so much you can plan before you book the venue.

I think that every good thing starts with a budget, therefore: Advice number one is to sit down and look at the numbers. Decide right from the beginning where you want to splurge and where to save up. Most of the couples have a cosy set up in mind, so their more substantial investments are on these three: venue, food, music. Others, with a more adventurous heart, splurge on travelling with their nearest and dearest for the wedding. Still, some choose their parents' farm, so they can save up for a home after their nuptials.

After the budget is done, a few essential matters will come up, because they are closely connected to your venue deliberations. One is the wedding date. If you are keen on a specific date, something meaningful to you as a couple, then the search for your venue will become a little more complicated. This is because many of the traditional sites (castles, manor houses, hotels) are booked in advance. The conundrum can be fixed by either changing the date or considering alternative spaces.

Don't call quits yet though. The latest trends in the wedding industry are moving towards unconventional spaces: lofts, urban outlets, quirky restaurants, you name it. This tendency created a lot more variety. Another benefit would be that the availability of the traditional settings increased because there's not so high competition anymore on just a few places. Now every couple gets to choose according to their dynamic.

Bride holding a flower bouquet kissing with her groom in urban setting
Bride and groom kissing. Photo by Wild Heart Visuals.

And so there is hope to book your favourite venue and on your appointed date.

Date vs. Location

Another matter that needs to be dealt with is the date versus location issue. You have to think long and hard what is more important to you. Either the date: maybe you always dreamed of a romantic summer wedding or a magical winter wonderland. Or the location: maybe you want to get married where your parents got married and honour them in this way. Or you want to say I dos at the inn where you lodged when your fiancee proposed.

For me, the season was far more important than the day itself or the location. I am a very weather sensitive person, and I was sure of what I wanted: vibrant colours, the sun still shining, and the breezy air. That meant autumn, middle of September.

Another essential issue that would inevitably arise when discussing the venue is your wedding theme. Why? Because again, it very much depends on the existing interior design of the place you pick or the architectural style. For a cohesive decor, your style an the venue's should coincide. It would be a shame to replace the chandeliers of a castle with mason jars lightning as it would be just the same as bringing velvet tapestry in a barn.

The Big Three Questions

Therefore, take this little test and answer the following questions for yourself. Read about the different wedding themes and decor, do your homework. After that decide if you are settled on a style, or you would rather pick the location and work with what is there already.

So first answer this: indoor or outdoor?

The great outdoor offers an abundance of stunning natural landscapes. It provides a beautiful backdrop, so you don't need to invest much in decor. Besides it makes for such a fun and memorable way of celebrating, in contrast with the more formal fun of a ballroom. There are two significant disadvantages for outdoor locations though. You are at the mercy of the elements (rain, storms, too hot, too cold, etc.). And the fact that given a bare setting, the rentals will make it a costly affair: chair, tables, linen, tableware, etc.

Wedding couple in the rain holding an umbrella
Wedding couple in the rain holding an umbrella. Photo by Karra Leigh Photography.

The next question is: are you leaning towards the countryside or the big city?

Should it be a barn, manor house, or a castle for the expensive tastes, or a loft, a boutique hotel in the inner busy streets of a city? Do you want open space and a natural landscape, lawn games, family-inclined festivities or an edgy, twisty vibe feel for the urbanite friends?

The disadvantage in choosing the countryside is the distance that friends and family should travel. Transportation and accommodation are the pain points. Does your chosen venue offer a solution? The disadvantage of the urban wedding is that you will probably have to choose two other places as well: one for the ceremony and one for the pictures. So it will be quite a bit of to and fro.

Wedding couple walking in on a pedestrian's crossing in empt street
Wedding couple in empty street. Photo by Olivia Strohm Photography.

You should also ponder about if an exquisite, niche space, like an art gallery, is suitable for everyone. Some of the older members of your family could feel out of their comfort zone.

And the last big questions is: do you want a large affair or an intimate bash?

Will you invite your second cousin and her plus one or do you prefer just your closest of kin? You can have the trendiest wedding in the backyard of your childhood home, but most lkely it can't host all of the 200 people on your list.

So as you well perceived by now, planning a wedding is all about prioritising, you will always have more than two options, and you will always have to weigh their importance.

This one word makes wedding planning difficult for brides: prioritising. That's why I am here, and why there is such a thing as a wedding planning industry.

Now that we have laid down the groundwork we can pursue in my next blog post the smaller matters concerning style for your venue.

How is your venue hunt going? Have you found it? Do you have any questions? I am always on Facebook, shoot me a message.

Until next time.