In my opinion, wedding venue selection is everything! It dictates almost every aspect of your wedding--the amount of people you can invite, the overall sense of style of the wedding (casual vs. formal, contemporary vs. old world), the style of dress you can wear, the colors you can use, the time of year your wedding can be held. Your venue forms the backdrop of your entire wedding celebration; thus, from a design standpoint, it is the most important decision you will make. There is lots of advice out there on choosing a wedding venue, but we tried to highlight seven tips you may not have come across.

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1) "I know I live in Dallas, but I really had my heart set on a beach wedding." - Consider the limitations of your area.

Before, I started looking for venues, I had perused enough wedding blogs to know exactly what type of wedding I wanted. I wanted it to be held in a private estate or a vineyard with rolling green hills and impeccable landscaping. You know, like those beautiful California weddings you see ALL over the blogs. When I started looking for actual venues in my hometown of Houston, I quickly realized I didn't live in California. There were no vineyards with rolling green hills and an outdoor wedding was pretty much a no-go with my budget. What I should have done was examine the types of venues available to me and built a dream wedding with them in mind. Instead, I spent months looking for a venue that didn't exist based on my imaginary dream wedding.

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choosing a wedding venue

Nancy Aidee Photography

2)   "Aunt Suzy won't mind sitting on Uncle Al's lap." - Count those guests.

Before you set foot out that door, get a firm grip on the amount of guests you think will attend your wedding. Understanding this element is key, as many venues have capacity limitations that will determine whether or not they remain on the "short list". Also, be aware of "maximum capacity" numbers versus "comfortably seated" numbers. Many venues will provide a maximum capacity number ("We can stack our tables three tables high to accommodate 260."), but that number is usually more than what is "comfortable" for the space.

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choosing a wedding venue

Ben Sassani Photography

3) "What do you mean I can't have hot pink and leopard as my colors!" - Consider the design of the space.

I cannot stress this point enough. Spaces usually come with a design aesthetic--in other words, they are not blank slates. If you choose a venue that has a distinct design aesthetic, make sure to choose a color palette and overall styling concept that coordinates with that design aesthetic. So, if you've chosen a ballroom with warm tones such as deep brown and creams, neon pink and black would probably not be the best color choices. If you are set on having neon pink and black in the wedding, choose a venue that will accommodate those colors.

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4) "What's the difference between 'merlot' and 'burgundy'? Isn't it all just red?" - Evaluate your bride personality.

Do all the resources out there for wedding planning make your head spin? Does the thought of discussing the subtle difference between burgundy and merlot make you sick to your stomach? If so, you might be a bride who would benefit from an "all-inclusive" venue. These venues have relationships with pre-selected vendors for a variety of wedding elements (i.e., linens, centerpieces, floral, music, catering, cakes, etc.). They then offer these services to the wedding couple in a package for an all-inclusive price. Save for a few elements not included in the package, all the couple has to do is show up on their wedding day. Do you love DIY projects? Do you want to hand pick every single element of your wedding personally? If you answered yes to these questions, it would be good to choose a venue that allowed you to bring in all of the design elements yourself. Linens, centerpieces, ceremony decor--you want to be able to select it all. Thus, venues that simply provide a space for your event would be an ideal choice.

choosing a wedding venue

Julie Wilhite Photography

5) "So running water isn't included in the venue price." - Beware of "budget busters."

When comparing budgets for various venues, make sure you are comparing all-inclusive prices. Many venues give potential customers a price per head in response to a budget inquiry, but make sure you understand what this price includes. Is it just dinner? Does it include drinks? What about appetizers? Is the dance floor included or will you have to rent one? What about chair covers or additional chairs? Are there cake-cutting or corkage fees? What about parking? Is it free?  These "budget busters" can greatly inflate your all-inclusive price for securing the venue. You don't want to choose a venue based on price only to find out later that these additional costs raised your overall price above a venue that you ruled out because you thought it was too expensive.

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choosing a wedding venue

Jenny DeMarco Photography

6) "The early bird really does get the worm." - Start early.

Popular wedding venues can book up to a year and one half to two years in advance. So don't drag your feet!

choosing a wedding venue

La Dolce Vita Photography

7) "You want to have your wedding where?!" - Think outside the box.

Finally, think outside of the box when considering wedding venues. Weddings can be held almost anywhere, so don't limit yourself to the list of venues that appears in your Google search. Museums, historical places of interest, parks, art galleries, restaurants, and even parking garages have all provided beautiful backdrops for weddings. If you're running into a wall with the venue choices in your area, remember to think creatively and you'll be surprised at what you can come up with.

choosing a wedding venue

Michele Shore Photography

Be sure to check out our great selection of wedding venues housed in our vendor directory. These venues have all been hand-selected by my team and will provide a great starting point in your venue search. Happy Planning!