Customize your wedding day decor.

What to Look for in a Wedding Venue

When a couple gets engaged, one of the very first steps they’ll take towards planning their wedding is finding their wedding venue. This makes sense, since determining the wedding venue will help you figure out other things, such as flowers, décor, and catering. So the question is, what to look for in a wedding venue? 

Before the wedding venue search begins, however, it’s very important that you know your budget. You don’t want to get your heart set on a venue, only to discover that there’s no way you’ll be able to afford it. So, step one: figure out your budget and how many guests you’ll be having. Then start the wedding venue hunt. This way, you’ll know how much you can spend, and how much room you’ll need.

The preference of wedding venue varies from couple to couple widely. Some people want a giant, Beauty and the Beast-style ballroom. Others are perfectly happy in a lovely backyard. Some want beaches, some want barns, and some want museums. Some want an intimate group of close friends only, and some want an all-out sea of guests.

No matter what you have in mind, remember that no matter what sort of wedding venue you’re thinking of, there are a few key things that every space should include. If your wedding venue doesn’t include these things, you may regret it later. Below is what to look for in a wedding venue. 


An Environment You Love

This outdoor mountain range view paired with all white decor creates

This may sound obvious, but when trying to figure out what to look for in a wedding venue, you’d be surprised by how many people agree to get married in a place that they don’t exactly love the aesthetic or vibe.  For example, many couples get married at their church for religious reasons. This is, of course, absolutely fine—unless one of you dislikes the way the environment looks. It’s your wedding, after all, and your venue should reflect your tastes. It’s also important that both of you agree on the venue. If one of you loves a sleek industrial setting, but the other finds it cold, find a compromise with a different space that you both love. You will not only be getting married in the venue you select; you’ll also be looking at the photos of it for years to come. It should be a place that pleases you.


The Ability to Personalize

Customize your wedding day decor.

This white rose, candlelight table scape was customized and brought into the venue.

If you want to make your wedding truly personal make sure that your wedding venue gives you the ability to select things yourself including the décor, style of lighting, flowers, and anything else you want. If you love the venue but don’t like the options for centerpieces that they offer, for instance, make sure you can arrange to replace them with your own. Bringing your wedding-day vision to life is important, so make sure your wedding venue works with you to help in any way that they can.


Somewhere for Guests to Park

To save your guests a lot of frustration, it’s very smart to select a wedding venue that offers either private parking or extremely good parking options. If your venue is specifically for weddings, this shouldn’t be a problem. However, if you want to get married somewhere like a museum or library in a busy city, it’s a good idea to ask when checking out your venue if they offer parking for guests. And if they don’t, see what options they do have. The last thing you want is for your guests to all be late for your wedding because they’re searching for somewhere to park.


A Great Owner/Manager

Something crucial to what to look for in a wedding venue is a helpful owner/ manager the person who is running it should be patient, helpful, and informative. He or she will be a crucial person during your wedding planning and especially your wedding day, so they need to be accommodating to you. If you adore a venue but have a big problem with the owner/manager, consider choosing a different place. Dealing with someone rude or negative during the planning process is not something you want. Furthermore, if it’s the type of venue that has a staff, they should be excellent and professional, demonstrating the absolute best service. If the venue you’re checking out has staff members who seem aloof, bored, stressed, or uncaring, you should probably go elsewhere. 


Enough Space for Guests

San Francisco Outdoor Wedding Venue

This intimate wedding venue seats 30 or less.

Enough space for your guests is what to look for in a wedding venue!  This is why drafting a guest list before venue searching is very important. If you have 200 guests, your wedding venue should be able to hold them all. You don’t want anyone to feel cramped. Everyone should be comfortable as they witness you and your partner tie the knot. Make sure to check and double-check with the venue owner exactly how many people will be able to fit. Even if you’re getting married outside, you’ll need to ensure that the piece of land is large enough and that there is enough room for seating.


An Adequate Dance Floor

Chihuly wedding venue

This wedding venue allows enough space for the entertainment and room for your guests on the dance floor.


For many, the best part of the wedding is the dancing. If this is an important feature for you, make sure that you approve of the venue’s dance floor. This means asking about how many people it can accommodate, ensuring that it’s safe (no cracks or broken tiles!), and seeing if you like its placement in regards to the rest of the reception room. For example, if it looks like the dance floor is placed awkwardly and will cause congestion, consider how much of an issue this might be to you.


Somewhere for Entertainment

Similar to the dance floor space, the entertainment space should also be large enough to comfortably accommodate your band, DJ, or other entertainment. Some vendors even stipulate in their contract that they must have enough stage or platform space—so make sure to find a venue with plenty of room for them and their gear.


Layout That Makes Sense

When Making sure there’s enough room for guests and that the dance floor and stage are good is smart. But besides this, it’s also wise to make sure that the overall “flow” of the room works for you. Are there possible areas where bottlenecks might occur? Is your granny going to get bumped into by someone who is dancing as she’s trying to visit the buffet? Are the tables too close together for comfort? These are things you can find out by asking the venue manager, but it’s also a good idea to look at photos from past events to ensure that nothing looks overcrowded or uncomfortable.


A Good “Chill Out” Area

Auberge du soleil wedding

An outdoor patio is a great “chill out” spot to take a quick break before returning to your reception.

A “chill out” area is often overlooked when deciding on a venue. This area can supply a great spot to take a quick break after the ceremony. While this one may not be the most important thing to look for in a wedding venue, it still has its value and can be a fantastic bonus: an area set apart from the main reception room where guests are able to take a quick break from all the excitement and energy. This can also be used for elderly guests, small children, smokers, or anyone who may want to have a brief, quiet talk. This area can be a lounge area, outdoor gardens, a patio, an offshoot bar, or a foyer.


A Solid Contract

Never book a wedding venue without going through a contract with the manager. Make sure you both agree. Here are some things to look for in your  contract:

  • deposit amount
  • total cost
  • payment due dates
  • policies for cancellations or refunds
  • cleaning fees
  • insurance details
  • liquor license
  • access areas
  • the venue hours of accessibility
  • overtime fees
  • parking information
  • amenities you can personalize or use
  • permissible vendor arrival time


Not only should you agree on these things, but they should be clearly stated within the contract, and this contract should be signed and kept by all of you: any managers/owners, yourself, and your partner.


Catering that you love 

Find a catering company that you love.  If you don’t have a clear vision for your wedding reception food,  find venues with in-house catering. 

This is an especially great option if you’d like to simplify what to look for in a wedding venue.  Short on catering inspiration? Meet with caterers. Ask about their most popular dishes. If you don’t have your own ideas for your wedding catering,  find a wedding venue that has its own in-house catering. Wedding caterers will be able to help guide you.  Many signature dishes, drinks, and desserts to serve your guests. Because an in-house caterer is on-site, the food will be the right temperature and ready to serve, which will give you a lot of peace of mind. An outside caterer may be late for a multitude of reasons. Many wedding venues have in-house catering.  Those that do typically offer tastings. Wedding venues tasting may range from sampling each course to a full course sit down for couples. 

While not everything in this article is a wedding venue must-have, these are important factors to review when learning what to look for in a wedding venue. Keep this list close in case something has slipped your mind.

Before you embark on your wedding venue hunt, make a list. The list should include non-negotiable features and ideal features. Include on your “what to look for in a wedding venue list” questions to ask. Some couples feel overwhelmed when trying to find a wedding venue. To ensure your venue visiting time isn’t wasted take plenty of venue photos.  Schedule a date with you fiancee to review them. Curl up with your S.O., favorite cup of tea and enjoy reviewing. 

During the wedding planning process, thoroughness and organization is key to making decisions.



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