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Choosing a Wedding Venue: 5 Things You Should Know

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If the first big decision is who you will marry, you can pretty much consider the second big decision is where.  The right wedding venue tells your story as a couple, makes your guests comfortable, and creates the perfect backdrop for the photos that will last a lifetime.  So many other wedding decisions hinge around this one: colors, attire and perhaps even the date will be determined around your locale.

So here are 5 things you should know to choose your ideal venue.

One: Your Own Logistical Requirements

In some ways your wedding may revolve around the venue, but you also need to choose some of the details before you find your ideal location.  Make a list, including these logistics:

-Your wedding size
-Your budget
-Whether or not you will need to accommodate out of town guests (airport? lodging?)
-If you have vendor attachments or are flexible about “full service”
-Any other concerns you have about your particular wedding needs

Two: Decide Your Theme/Ambiance

Do you want a rustic farmhouse look, or a modern art museum?  Are you looking for a fairytale-style wedding or a more causal affair?  While some venues can accommodate a variety of themes, the overall ambiance you desire has a great deal to do with venue.

You and your fiancé should decide about the “vibe” of your wedding before choosing a wedding location.

Three: Your Date

Popular wedding venues fill up fast, so you will need to decide what is more important, location or date?  When considering your date, take a look at these points:

Time of year— What kind of look and feel you want.  If you desire an outdoor beach wedding, or a picturesque snowy backdrop, the venue and the time of year should both be considered.
Family availability—Your family that may travel, your own work and other factors affect the date you choose.
Cost—Some venues have “off seasons,” where decreased popularity may translate to savings for you.

If the date is very important to you, you may need to be more flexible about venue.

Four: Facility Logistics

Now it’s time to start calling, emailing, and setting up appointments.  You can ask your pre-questions based on your answers to the points above.  Before you go, make sure you know:

-Can they accommodate your party size?
-Are they available when you need them?
-Will you have exclusive use of the facility? (If not, can you work with what you will have?)
-Is it full service or what control will you have on vendors?
-What are time and sound requirements?

A little prep work by determining your needs and asking these pre-questions will save you trips to venues that won’t work.  Set appointments for any possibilities.

Five: Do Thorough Visits

When you are ready to visit venues, come prepared with your list and a few key decision makers, such as your parents or maid of honor.  You should have someone to bounce ideas off of, even if just to help you narrow down the possibilities (then come back with anyone else you need to consult who didn’t make the initial screening appointments).

On your visit, ask about and look for:

-Parking, bathrooms, and nearby accommodations
-Staging areas for the wedding party and other needed spaces such as a dance floor or a covered area in case of rain
-Lighting: take pictures (and look at others’ photos online)

The Fine Print: When you find your ideal location, go through your question list again to be sure you covered everything and read the fine print before you sign.

You’ll soon have your perfect wedding venue!