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9 Things to Consider Before Selecting a Wedding Venue

Mandee Johnson Photography-21 Photography: Mandee Johnson

Couples consider many things when selecting their wedding venue, with availability and overall aesthetic as two key factors. However, it’s easy to get swept up in planning your perfect wedding day without thinking about how it will look like for your loved ones.Of course, this is a day to celebrate you and your new nuptials! But if you’re hoping to leave a good impression on your guests, it’s best to consider their experience with each venue tour.Not sure what to keep in mind? We asked a handful of industry experts for their best tips – here’s what they had to say.

#1 Consider proximity of accommodations

Though a wedding in a field of flowers sounds beautiful, it may pose a challenge for guests if that field is in the middle of nowhere! Out-of-town guests appreciate having a handful of lodging options nearby so they can enjoy their time and relax rather than coordinating transportation!“When picking a venue with guests in mind, you will want to ensure that the location has a mix of hotel price ranges so everyone will feel comfortable attending,” says Sandy Brooks of Timeless Event Planning . “If you want most of your guests to attend, choosing a venue near an airport will be helpful as it makes traveling easier for those coming from afar.”Samantha Leenheer of Samantha Joy Events echoes this, stating, “We don't recommend picking a venue far away from lodging and hotels unless you can offer transportation to your guests. Guests will leave early when they have to drive late at night in new places.”

#2 Ask the right questions

If you’re preparing a list of questions to ask your venue, make sure to add a few for your guests! It’s important to phrase each question specifically, so you can get the answers you need to make the best booking decision.“Make sure to ask detailed questions,” recommends Shannon Tarrant of Wedding Venue Map . “Change the CAN questions to HOW questions. For example, can you accommodate my vegan guests when inquiring about catering will be a yes. But how do you accommodate and what is the process will be a totally different description of the venue's processes.”

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#3 Listen to your gut feeling

Numbers, prices, and logistics are one thing, but when it comes to a celebration as special as your wedding, pay attention to how certain venues make you feel. Think about the impression you want to make on your guests before signing on any dotted lines.Carrie Darling of Carrie Darling Events shares, “Overall, you want to make sure a venue feels very welcoming to you on your first walkthrough of the space because that is what your guests will experience on the big day! So it is best to put yourself in their shoes from arrival to when they depart and wrap your head around what they will experience.”

#4 Don’t underestimate each space

A big empty ballroom may feel spacious, but the venue can quickly shrink when you start thinking about what you’ll need to add! Try and picture where each aspect of your reception will go and how you’d feel as a guest inside.“Don’t underestimate your space requirements,” notes Steven Feinberg of Bunn DJ Company - San Diego . “You’ll need space for a dance floor, your DJ or band, maybe a photo booth, an area for cutting the cake, and you may even want a head table. It’s also nice to have an area where guests can step away for conversation without shouting.”Keith Willard of Keith Willard Events agrees, sharing, “Many times, venues will give you their max capacity. Unfortunately, this doesn’t typically include room for the stage, dance floor, photos booth, and bars. Ask the salesperson for a floor-plan that includes the above-mentioned items to ensure enough space.”

#5 Be mindful of the parking situation

The inside of your venue will get plenty of attention, but don’t forget about the outside! Parking can have a significant impact on someone’s experience and how they feel heading into your celebration.“In historic locations or busy cities, parking can be quite a hassle,” confirms Nikki Golden of Nikki Golden Photography . “This frustrates guests and causes many people to show up to your ceremony late because they did not account for parking time. Always ask your venue what the parking situation is like and if there is a way to reserve a parking lot or spaces for your guests if needed.”

California Wedding Venue Photograph: Julia Franzosa

#6 Check out an all-inclusive option

All-inclusive wedding venues typically have everything (or almost everything!) you’ll need for your special day. Think catering, florals, decorations, rentals, tables, chairs, and so on — but all from one provider. Though they come with a higher initial price tag, they’re worth considering if you want to create an amazing experience for your loved ones without the extra stress.“Don’t overlook all-inclusive wedding venues,” emphasizes Peter Mitsaelides of Brooklake Country Club and Events . “You’ll find savings when you can combine your venue with food and beverage.”

#7 Acknowledge your older guests

Venues full of sweeping staircases and cobblestone paths make for a gorgeous aesthetic, but certain features can create challenges for older guests. So instead, consider how accessible your venue is for those who may struggle walking long distances or climbing stairs!Betsy Scott of Hudson Valley Weddings at The Hill shares, “With elderly guests, you’ll want to ensure the venue has good accessibility. And you might want to provide seating closer to the ceremony so they can easily hear and see.”

#8 Recognize the restrooms

A not-so-glamorous part of your wedding venue? Its restrooms! To provide the best experience, note how many bathrooms your guests will have access to throughout the night. Nobody wants to wait in line when the dance floor is waiting!“Ensure that your venue has an acceptable number of bathrooms for all your guests,” encourages Golden. “There's nothing worse than your guests (or your photographer!) missing out on special moments of your day because they were in a long bathroom line. On the other hand, it might be time to reconsider if the venue only has two total bathrooms for over 100 guests.”

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#9 Think about the weather

 We’ve all been there – a summer wedding full of sweaty guests or a winter celebration where loved ones are left shivering! To ensure your guests are comfortable, don’t forget to choose a venue that can accommodate the weather.“Considering the time of year you are looking to host your wedding, it is great to check if the venue supplies heaters for your outdoor space or if the indoor ballroom A/C can crank a cold breeze,” notes Darling. “I can't tell you how many guests have come up to me and asked me to turn down the air while they were working up a sweat on the dance floor!”Picking your venue is one of the most exciting (and most important) parts of planning your wedding. When you keep your guests’ experience in mind, you can start designing a day that’s enjoyable for everyone. No matter your choice, your guests will be overjoyed to spend time celebrating you and your partner!

Meghan Ely is the owner of wedding PR and wedding marketing firm OFD Consulting . Ely is a sought-after speaker, adjunct professor in the field of public relations, and a self-professed royal wedding enthusiast.