How To Choose The Best Wedding Venue

February 6, 2017

This is a fun post about How To Choose The Best Wedding Venue! I love wedding venues. They’re often the backgrounds and the context for the gorgeous wedding days of my couples. They play a huge role! Some of my favorite wedding venues like Wyndridge Farm, Heritage Shores are fantastic, but not everyone lives near an amazing wedding venue. My wedding planner Sarah of Sincerely Pete Events has been in the wedding industry much longer than I have. Whether you’re in Washington DC, Chicago, Hawaii or wherever, Sarah is amazing and has over 13 years of experience in wedding and event planning. I’d love for you to check out what she has to say! – Adam

How To Choose The Best Wedding Venue

When you choose a wedding venue it is often one of the first things a newly engaged couple dives into. At the same time, it’s one of the biggest decisions you’ll make in the planning process.

When you start looking for that perfect wedding venue, I encourage you to follow these six professional wedding planning tips + tricks.

Tip + Trick # 1: Make a short list of venues:

Before ever beginning to tour venues, we encourage you to make a short list of venues that fit your following wedding day criteria:

  • Fits in your budget
  • Fits your guest list count
  • Available for your desired date (Tip: It’s always “easier” to find a venue when you have a date range instead of set date!)

Last thing you want to do is start touring wedding venues, fall in love with one only to realize it is out of your budget or won’t fit all your family + friends!

wyndridge farm wedding venue during summer by Washington DC Wedding Photographer Adam MasonWyndridge Farm Wedding Photo by Washington DC Wedding Photographer Adam Mason

Tip + Trick # 2: The Venue Visit     

Once you’ve formulated your venue list and everything matches your wedding day criteria – take that list and begin visiting wedding venues.

You can save a lot of time by working in the following tips into your wedding venue search

  • Making an appointment with each possible venue on the same day
  • Make sure to bring all of the important decision makers (AKA anyone who is paying!)
  • Have a list of pertinent questions (see below!)

That way there will be no need for multiple visits to fill in everyone and you will be able to compare and contrast each venue with your decision makers. One day of focused productivity will really streamline the planning process and help you stay organized!

barn at klines mill wedding ceremony size by Washington DC Wedding Photographer Adam MasonBarn at Kline’s Mill Wedding Photo by Washington DC Wedding Photographer Adam Mason

Tip + Trick # 3: Ask the Questions

While visiting the venues, you want to make sure to ask very pertinent questions and not forget anything! Before making your wedding venue decision you will need to ensure everything remains in the budget. The following are some of our top questions to ask each wedding venue:

  • Is there guest parking available?
  • Are there rentals (tables, chairs, linens, etc.) included or available?
  • Are there any required/preferred vendors? Perhaps a wedding photographer?
  • Total rental time or set rental hours?
  • Earliest vendors can arrive/latest they can stay?
  • Do vendors have enough time for set-up & clean-up?

I recommend at least 2 – 3 hours for set-up, depending on your design, and 1.5 hours for clean-up (especially catering). You will want to know all associated venue costs up front before you are surprised later!

Covenant Presbyterian Church wedding by Washington DC Wedding Photographer Adam MasonCovenant Presbyterian Church Wedding Photo by Washington DC Wedding Photographer Adam Mason

Tip + Trick # 4: Understand Total Costs of Venues

After visiting and asking each venue questions, you may find out that some venues have required vendors or they may provide a list of preferred vendors. So, in order to stay on budget, you will want to….

  • Contact the Required/ Preferred Vendor List to inquire about their pricing to make sure it fits in budget and preferred style, taste and aesthetic.
  • Look into additional rentals and costs that you will need to get quotes for such as linen, tables, chairs, power, tenting, parking passes, valet service,  etc.

This will ensure your dream venue really is a reality and that you are very confident before you sign that dotted line.

rappahannock cellars wedding barrel room by Washington DC Wedding Photographer Adam MasonRappahannock Cellars Wedding Photo by Washington DC Wedding Photographer Adam Mason

Tip + Trick # 5: The Look

A lot of newlyweds have a venue look in their head and believe that any space can be transformed with enough décor, florals, drapes, etc. While you can transform a venue, it often times can put you over budget quickly. When visiting each venue, we really encourage engaged couples to ask themselves these questions, when evaluating the “look” of a venue…

  • Is this venue us?!
  • Is this venue beautiful + stunning the day we visit?
  • If we got married here tomorrow, would we be happy?

fall wedding at woodend sanctuary by Washington DC Wedding Photographer Adam MasonWoodend Sanctuary Wedding Photo by Washington DC Wedding Photographer Adam Mason


Tip + Trick # 6: The Contract – Professional Set of Eyes

So you’ve found your “perfect” venue and you are about to sign that dotted line with your sweetheart. Wait before you sign the contract for your wedding venue!

Contracts are a HUGE deal! They are legally binding and directly affect your whole planning process as well as your wedding day! We highly suggest to reach out to a professional, experienced wedding planner to double check that venue contract, assess your total venue costs, and let you know of anything you may have missed or looked over! Weddings are an investment, you don’t want to waste all this time, energy, etc. to only realize on your wedding day catering doesn’t have enough time to set-up before the reception or you only can dance for 1 hour because the venue has a noise ordinance beginning at 9 p.m!

Long Story Short:

Every venue is unique.

Every couple is special.

All weddings are different.

Wedding Planners are experienced professionals for a reason.

Seek out a professional (even if it is just for your venue/venue contract) because wedding planners are experienced, can save you tons of time + headache during the planning process. Often times, wedding planners have seen 100’s of venues and venue contracts, so they’ll have a lot of good insight.

If you are already a Sincerely Pete Events couple, the great news is that you’re in good hands! We will ask all the right questions, setting you up for a fun venue search that is stress-free and helping you avoid the pitfalls of signing before you get the entire picture!

We really hope these Tips + Tricks help you ease the stress of finding the wedding venue of your dreams!

xo, Sarah

Don’t know where to start? Need help choosing the best wedding venue? Want another set of eyes on the venue contract? Contact Sarah at Sincerely Pete Events.

I hope you all enjoyed that wonderful guest post from Sarah Pete Rizzi of Sincerely Pete Events! If you loved this post, make sure to email her or let either of us know!

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