Choosing the Perfect Wedding Venue

November 30, 2007

There are many things to consider when it comes to choosing the venue for your wedding ceremony and reception.  The venue for your wedding sets the tone for every other aspect of your special day.  For example, it can dictate the menu, what photos will be taken, the size of your reception and bridal party and the formality or informality of the event.  This is one of the reasons a wedding coordinator becomes invaluable to a bride and her family.  Their wedding planner will be aware of many different venues that can meet the needs of the bride and eliminate the venues that are not in-line with their vision.  This article will try to shed some light on the various components that make up your wedding day and therefor help you and your event planner when deciding on the location for your wedding.


The first thing to consider is your budget.  Obviously planning a wedding for 250 guests and having the reception at a fine hotel will be more costly than a wedding for 70 guests and a garden brunch reception.  However, there is always an exception to the rule.  I planned a wedding reception  for 75 guests outside on the beach, with fine china, tents, dance floor, a sit-down meal, etc. where the budget exceeded that of the formal scenario previously mentioned. 

When budget is a concern it is best to keep the guest list small and choose a venue where your guests will not seem “lost” in a grand space.  The best options are a garden, beach or home wedding reception.  Again, these can still be very elegant and formal depending on the brides’ style and wishes.


Many brides today are choosing to have their wedding ceremony and/or receptions outdoors.  This is a wonderful way to incorporate beauty and serenity into your wedding; however, there are many things to consider.  There is of-course the obvious weather considerations.  You will need to have an alternative plan in case of rain or extreme wind.  Besides wind and rain you will need to consider the time of year in which your wedding will be taking place.  If you are having a Florida wedding in the summer you may want to keep your ceremony short and provide shade.  If you are having the reception outside, given the same scenario, you may want to provide misting standing fans and hold the wedding reception during the cooler evening hours.

In addition, you will need to make sure you accommodate guests who are physically challenged. For example, if having a beach wedding you will need a hard surface for guests in wheel chairs or who use walking aids.  If holding an outdoor wedding ceremony and reception don’t forget to consider lighting, parking and restroom facilities.


A home or garden wedding provides a lot of versatility.  They can be formal catered affairs or “do-it-yourself” receptions.  Depending on the size of your wedding reception, rental equipment can be quite pricey.  If you are planning a wedding ceremony and reception in a local park keep in mind you will need to obtain the proper permits.

There are many benefits to having a wedding ceremony and reception in a park/garden or at a private home.  For one, you can supply your own caterer and purchase your own liquor for less money than a hotel or banquet hall would charge.  This will help offset the price of the rental equipment.

A hotel or formal banquet hall can be a fabulous setting for the more formal affair.  They typically have a minimum that is to be spent depending on the day of the event and which rooms will be rented.  It can be easier to plan a wedding ceremony and reception  because most hotels require the bride to use their caterer, baker, bar service and event coordinators.  The average cost per person for food alone can run between $65.00 and $100.00 per person.  Of-course every wedding reception regardless of size and venue should have an open bar.  At a hotel a full open bar can run several thousand dollars.

Planning your wedding reception at a community center or private hall can seem like a lack luster and daunting task, but any venue can be turned into a beautiful setting.  With the proper lighting, flowers and fabric lined walls a “hall” can be transformed into an unrecognizable venue.  There are many private clubs; such as, the Lion’s Club, Moose Lodge, etc. that are in prime locations, even waterfront, but need some creative touches.  By renting these venues the day before the wedding you can enlist family and friends to help with the decorating and incorporate it within the rehearsal.

Where ever you decide to hold your wedding ceremony and/or reception there are questions you need to ask before reserving your venue.  For example, does the venue provide tables, chairs, and linens? Is the setup and cleanup fees included?  Can you provide your own alcohol and caterer? Can the venue hold the number of guests you’d like to invite (sit-down vs. buffet)?  Is there adequate parking?  Is there an alternative venue in case of inclement weather?  Are there overtime charges?  Are there extra charges for cake cutting or corkage fees?  Do they provide rooms for the bridal party to get ready?  Are there any insurance or permit requirements?

Be sure to visit the venue you choose while it is set up for another wedding or event similar to one of your size.  Even though wedding receptions vary in size there are some key elements that are the same.  Your dance floor should hold 20 to 40 percent of your guests at a time.  Make sure there is enough room for the flow of traffic to the dance floor, bar and/or buffet.  There needs to be adequate space for your DJ or live entertainment.

Wedding and event coordinators can be lifesavers when it comes time to choose your venue.  They are experts at planning for unforeseen events and are familiar with the area.  This means that they are aware of the costs and issues that go along with any venue you may be interested in, as well as, many other options. 

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