Selecting your venue is one of the first big decisions you’ll make as you plan the big day. From the number of guests you’ll have to the theme of your day, the wedding venue selection sets the tone for everything else you’ll plan. To ensure you choose the perfect venue, follow our wedding venue checklist. Here, we offer two variations: one to help narrow your search, and another to help select the one you’d like to schedule for your wedding.

Which comes first: The wedding date or the venue?

When you first visit wedding venues, it’s OK not to know your exact wedding date, but you should have a general idea of the time of year you’d like to get married. If you have a month or season in mind, mention it during your tour so you can confirm availability. This also gives you flexibility if you fall in love with a venue, but the precise date you had in mind doesn’t work for them. 

What is the best month to get married?

Choose a month that works best for you and your spouse! Whether that’s a tropical-themed July wedding or a winter wonderland December wedding, the choice is yours. 

Use this wedding venue checklist to narrow your search

Choosing a wedding venue can take a lot of time and careful planning. From deciding how large you want your guest list to planning an ideal wedding date, finding a venue that will exceed your expectations can be challenging. This checklist covers everything you need to consider before choosing the right wedding venue. 

1. Wedding location and general time of year

Before you dive deep into wedding planning, the first thing you need to do is select a general location. While many couples tend to get married in the city they currently live in, that’s not the hard-and-fast rule anymore. Think about whether you – or your friends and family – are open to traveling long distances.

With a region or even a specific city in mind, you can narrow down the time of the year you want to have your ceremony and reception. Take the weather and season into account – if where you want to get married has great weather all year, that offers different possibilities than if your desired location has a rainy season or a blizzard season.

2. Your wedding style

Think about how you want your wedding to look and feel. Are you dreaming of blooming rose gardens in the shade of a lush forest, or is an organic herb and vegetable garden more in line with what you’re looking for? Consider your overall theme and colors while touring a venue. 

3. Selecting a few venues to tour

With the location chosen and a general aesthetic settled, the research begins. Start with an internet search focused on your desired region. Take a look at their website, read reviews, and look through photos. Start a list of the venues that speak to you.

4. Budget allocation

As you build out a budget for your wedding, consider how much you comfortably allocate to the venue. Some couples may be willing to allocate more of their budget to the venue. There’s no right answers here – what’s best is what feels right for you and your soon-to-be spouse. However, it’s important to have these conversations early in the process.

5. An estimated headcount

Now, move on to the number of guests you plan to invite. While you don’t need a precise number at this stage, a rough estimate can put the right venues at the top of your must-see list.

6. Dream features

Think about what you want your big day to look like, and create a list of dream features from there. This list can cover the aesthetics of your venue, practical offerings, and details that will make your day just right.

Use this wedding venue checklist to help choose the right venue

With a region, season, and general wants and needs in mind, it’s time to examine the specifics of each venue on your shortlist. When you book a tour, remember to find out more information on these important features.

1. Learn more about available packages

Many venues bundle the vendors you’ll need for your big day along with the space rental, including catering, a planning team, bartenders, and other services that make your day memorable and uniquely you. These vendors know your venue inside and out, ensuring a magical day goes even more flawlessly.

2. Ask about – and try – food options

If your venue includes catering, a sampling may be part of your tour. Ask about the most popular dishes and any levels of customization the caterer can provide. Ask about the bar and bartenders if you plan on serving alcohol. This is also the time to ask about whether they can accommodate for common dietary restrictions, like gluten-free, vegetarian, and vegan dishes. 

3. Learn about indoor alternatives for outdoor settings

Don’t let rain get in the way of a fabulous wedding day. Ask about backup options under shelter or fully indoors in case of extreme heat or cold, rain, snow, or other less-than-stellar weather.

4. Ask about which parts of the venue you can use

Do you and your wedding party have access to the entire venue, or only a few rooms? What about outdoor ideas – can you use any space, or will your wedding take place in a handful of select areas? Keep in mind that it’s not just ceremony and reception you’ll need space for. You may need space for:

  • Getting ready rooms for the couple, including separate bridal suites and groom suites
  • Getting ready rooms for the wedding party
  • More areas to take photos

5. Find out about nearby accommodations

Your venue may have arrangements with nearby hotels that you can secure at a good rate. Think about how your guests will get to and from these accommodations; your venue may provide a shuttle or know of a service that can transport guests safely back to the hotel. The venue may have a few guest rooms for you and your nearest and dearest to stay the night before and after the wedding, too. 

6. Take a look at the facilities 

Restrooms, coat checks, private areas for nursing folks – these facilities may not be top of mind, but these details make an important difference for your guests. As you walk through the reception area and cocktail room, take the extra step of examining these places and ask your guide if there’s something specific you have in mind.

7. Check in on accessibility

For guests who need mobility accommodations, or if you and your partner need accommodations, look for accessibility features at your venue. This could cover a wide range of accessibility features, including aisle and hall width, transportation from ceremony to venue, elevators in lieu of stairs, and ramps for walker and wheelchair access.

8. Ask about parking and transportation

Ease of access is important for your guests and vendors. Double-check that your venue has plentiful parking. If parking is off-site, learn more about the logistics of bringing your guests from the parking lot to the venue and vice-versa. 

9. Take note of the customer service

Finally, you want assurance that the venue you’re touring will take care of every detail. Pay attention to the process as you’re guided through the venue. Did the tour guide have answers to your questions? If you took a virtual tour, how quickly did a venue representative follow up with answers? Take note to get an idea of what you can expect.

A final bit of advice

As you hop from venue to venue, a checklist can help you keep the big picture and the little details straight. Directly compare features and benefits of each venue with the same list of questions and insights that can help you make a final decision. 

With a general idea of your desired date or season, number of guests, and overall style, you’ll be able to find the right venue in no time. Then, once the date is set and you’ve secured the venue, you can relax a bit knowing that you’re well on your way to planning one of the most memorable days of your life.