Finding the perfect wedding venue isn’t an easy job. There are so many gorgeous options to choose from and so many different criteria to consider, that it can be a little overwhelming. To help make this process easier for you, we’ve created a checklist of key considerations when starting the hunt for your ideal wedding venue.

  1. Get a grip on your guest list
    Draw up your guest list before you start looking at venues. Knowing how many people you are inviting will help you avoid challenges down the road. For example, you may fall in love with a venue, only to discover that it cannot accommodate your guest numbers. Understanding your guest tally also helps you break down your budget so that you know what venues you can afford.
  2. Respect your budget
    Another important step to complete before you start trawling for venues is to figure out how much you have to spend on your wedding – and more specifically, your wedding venue. If you find a venue you absolutely love but it blows your budget, you will need to either scale back on other aspects or cut your guest list.
  3. Choose a venue that suits your vision
    Seek out a venue that offers a natural fit with your overall design aesthetic. For example, if your style is minimalist, clean and contemporary, it doesn’t make sense to book a venue that has a lot of detailed vintage styling – no matter how charming it may be. Conversely, a venue with lots of built-in personality and décor elements like chandeliers and wallpaper may result in you needing to do less on the decor and floral front and if that’s what you love, then this is a good option for you. Whether it’s a ‘blank canvas’ venue you are after, or a venue with personality that matches your personal style, bear this in mind when doing your site visits.
  4. Consider your guests’ experience
    Think about the friends and family members you want to invite to your celebration and consider the practicalities of your wedding venue. If your reception is more than an hour away and guests cannot easily return home, determine whether there is enough accommodation onsite or nearby. If you are planning a destination wedding, factor in proximity to airports, ease of road travel, ample accommodation at the venue and an entertainment programme for the rest of the week-end.
  5. Understand what the quote includes and excludes
    Make sure you understand exactly what is included in the venue hire fee and the cost per person. Some venues quote a fee to hire the reception hall and then charge per head for catering, while others may give an all-inclusive cost per person, incorporating the venue, catering and various other services. Generally, the venue hire includes the use of tables, chairs, basic linen, cutlery and crockery but in some instances, these will need to be hired separately. Some venues may even include the use of specialised chairs and a limited selection of décor. Don’t be shy to find out these details up front, as it will avoid unnecessary disappointment when extras are added to your bill after you have paid a deposit.
  6. Enquire about the venue’s ceremony location
    Most venues have a chapel nearby, but if this is not on the property, it may result in additional costs. If the venue does not have a chapel, you could erect a marquee or stretch tent on the property, but you will need to check if the venue will permit this. The setting might be ideal for a garden or outdoor ceremony but remember that you cannot control the weather and you need to have a bad-weather plan in place.
  7. Prepare for all weather possibilities
    No one wants to be too hot / cold / wet on their wedding day! Check what weather-proofing options your venue includes should the weather be swelteringly hot, freezing cold, windy or wet. Does it have air conditioning / heating / fans? If it’s in a marquee or on an open verandah, are heaters or air conditioners included or can they be hired as an additional extra?
  8. Consider your ‘getting ready’ spaces
    Getting ready on your wedding day should be relaxing and fun. Find out from your venue if they offer a place for you and your party to get ready and be sure to check it out when you conduct your site visit. If there isn’t a space available, and your venue is far from home, you will need to source an alternative nearby. And please don’t forget that the groom and his guys will need a getting ready space too.
  9. Establish if there are minimum requirements
    Check with the venue if you need to meet a minimum head count or spend. Bear in mind that this may vary depending on the day of the week, time of day, or season of your wedding. Some venues offer discounted rates for mid-week or off-season bookings so it may be worthwhile exploring a less popular date to benefit from these savings.
  10. Find out if the venue offers exclusive use
    Ask if other events will be permitted at the venue on the same day as your wedding and if so, think about how that will impact on your wedding. What facilities will be shared, and how will the venue manage things like noise levels, guest access, bar tabs etc?
  11. Understand the venue’s operating parameters
    Many venues have pre-determined start and finish times, which you need to abide by. Will you need to send your guests packing at midnight or is there an option to extend the party into the wee hours if everyone is having a good time? Ask about their set-up and pack-down arrangements. Will you have a full day before the event to set up, or just the morning of your event?
  12. Ask if there is a preferred vendor list
    Some venues make recommendations to help you build your dream team while others will only permit you to use their tried-and-trusted suppliers. It is important to note that most venues who do not have an inhouse catering team have a prescribed list of outside caterers that they will permit at their venue.
  13. Understand what is allowed – and what is taboo
    Think about any special décor touches or celebratory activities you may want to include and be sure to ask your venue if there is anything they won’t permit (e.g. pets, confetti, sparklers, lanterns, suspended décor installations, rose petal turn-down in the honeymoon suite etc.) before you get too far down the line with your planning.
  14. Enquire about any other policies you need to know about
    Your contract with the venue should cover details such as payment timelines and cancellation clauses. Read these carefully and be sure to query anything you don’t understand or aren’t happy with before you sign anything.
  15. How does the venue make you feel?
    Last but not least, does your venue make you feel warm and fuzzy inside? Whether it’s the offer of a complementary suite for your wedding night, a bottle of bubbly when you finish your tour of the venue, or the way that the staff treat you during your site visit, these are things that should be factored into your decision making. You want to feel special and prioritised by the team that is part of your big day.

Wishing you heaps of adventure and fun as you set out to find your dream venue!


Love Jacqui - The Marriage Meander Company