When planning your dream wedding, finding a venue you love that suits your unique wants and needs can feel like a major undertaking. With so many style and logistical considerations, picking the right one involves some thought.
We are breaking down some of the venue ideas to have on your radar and 10 tips for helping you and your future spouse make the best decision.
Wedding Venue Ideas
Before choosing a venue, explore the various options available to you and your soon-to-be spouse. You can host a beautiful wedding in a wide variety of places, some of which you may not have thought about.
Explore the following venue ideas:
Beaches offer a breathtaking backdrop for a wedding. If you are looking for a stunning place to get married on a budget, many public beaches allow you to purchase a city permit for a fraction of the price of other venue options.
State and National Parks
State and national parks make for some of the most scenic and special wedding venues. There are more than 400 national parks across the country, with at least one in every state. Adventure seekers and nature lovers will adore a celebration in one of these beautiful parks.
Libraries are a romantic and unique choice for a wedding venue. If you and your partner love literature, consider celebrating your big day surrounded by thousands of books. Your photos are almost guaranteed to look elegant, and this is a perfect venue option for couples who want to create a moody ambiance.
If you envision getting married among lush greenery and an abundance of plants, a botanical garden can give you just that. The vibrant flowers and varying shades of green provide an enchanting backdrop for your nuptials.
Do you want to spend your reception overlooking a lake or having a toast around a bonfire? Campgrounds make for an outdoorsy and playful wedding venue. Some summer camp locations will allow you to rent out cabins or bunks for your guests.
Barn venues are a fantastic option for couples who want to achieve a rustic or bohemian theme. These locations are often spacious and allow for a great amount of customization with fairy lights or greenery to suit your unique taste.
Churches make for wonderful classic wedding venues. The stained glass and architecture offer a beautiful setting. Whether you’re interested in an intimate gathering or a massive ceremony, finding a church that can accommodate your guest count should be relatively easy.
If you are looking for an unforgettable and fun wedding venue, consider a casino. Many casinos have hotel accommodations so your guests can stay overnight. You can play up a Vegas-inspired theme or create an elegant affair. Either way, your guests are sure to have fun!
Country clubs are another great pick for a wedding venue. While some will only allow members to throw events, others will allow you to rent out the space without being part of the club. If you want a location that overlooks a golf course or has a lot of special amenities, country clubs have plenty to offer.
Vacation properties can make for wonderful wedding venues. Depending on the size of your guest list and the house, you could have everyone stay there. Whether you have a lovely vacation home in your family or you rent one, they can be a beautiful and special place to wed.
If you want a waterfront event but don’t want to deal with sand, a marina is a perfect setup. You can enjoy the stunning views of boats sailing in the distance and watch the sun set over the water.
Marinas are a wonderful option for a wedding venue. If you have a boat, you can even take the party out on the water.
Don’t overlook how amazing a backyard wedding can be. As long as the space is large enough to comfortably fit your guests and accommodate parking, you can make the event as glamorous or as casual as you’d like!
City Halls or Courthouses
You can also get married at a city hall or courthouse. These venues are ideal for low-maintenance couples looking for a minimalist ceremony. You can have a reception at a separate location afterward or enjoy another activity, such as going to an intimate lunch with your loved ones.
10 Tips for Choosing a Wedding Venue
Choosing a venue is a major part of wedding planning. Before deciding on the perfect place, it’s beneficial to get organized and make a plan to assess each prospective venue and if it has everything you envisioned for the big day.
These tips will help you learn how to evaluate a wedding venue and make the right decision.
1. Begin With the General Location
Narrowing down your general location is a great place to start when looking for your dream venue. Consult with your soon-to-be spouse and decide on the region you’re interested in getting married in.
Consider if you want to host a destination wedding or something closer to home. The sooner you pick your desired region, the sooner you can start diving into individual venues and deciding on what features are most important to you.
2. Decide if You Want One Venue for the Ceremony and Reception
Another important consideration is where you and your partner would like to have your ceremony and reception. Some couples choose to have them at one location, while others opt for two different places. For example, it is not uncommon for people to get married in a church and go elsewhere for their wedding reception.
By choosing to have your ceremony and reception at the same place, you could end up saving some money because you will not have to hand over two venue checks.
3. Estimate Your Venue Budget
The venue is often the largest expense of a wedding. Locking down your location usually accounts for about 30% of your entire budget. Take some time to run the numbers and come up with an estimate for how much you and your partner can spend.
Once you have a good understanding of your budget, you can start to seek out venues that are realistically within your means and stop spending time on those that are too pricey.
4. Come up With a General Guest Count
Your guest count is an important factor to consider when choosing your dream venue. If you pick a venue that is too small for the number of people in attendance, you can run into problems, like limited parking or a lack of space for seating. If you go with a venue that is especially large and you plan on inviting a small and intimate group to your wedding, it may feel and look a little empty.
Instead, you’ll want to choose a destination that will comfortably accommodate everyone along with the features you want most.
5. Determine Possible Date Ranges
Consider the time of year you want to get married during. Summer is the most popular period to exchange vows. People generally regard late spring through early autumn as “wedding season.” You can often save money and enjoy less competition with vendors and venues if you opt for a celebration during the off-season.
Once you land on a desired season, you can start narrowing down possible dates for your big day.
6. Narrow Down Your Wedding Aesthetic
Before picking out a venue, consider the style or theme you want for your wedding. Popular styles include:
As you explore different venues, you can envision your theme and how the location will complement your decor and color scheme. When you have your desired aesthetic in mind, you can streamline your hunt for the perfect venue and only look at options that suit your style.
7. Don’t Be Afraid to Shop Around
As you begin looking for the perfect wedding venue, do not be afraid to shop around a bit. It can be tempting to lock down the first venue that fits most of your requirements, but you could miss out on something even better if you haven’t considered all your options.
Instead of rushing to secure your venue, start looking well in advance, so you have the time to explore all the potential places on your list. Most wedding planners will recommend reserving your venue at least a year and a few months before the big day.
8. Make a List of Questions to Ask
Be sure to keep a list of the key questions and points you want to cover when exploring various venue options. Having this note will allow you to cover all your bases during your visits so you get the full picture of how each venue operates and what to expect.
Some of the most important points to ask about and example questions include:
- Pricing: How much does the venue cost? What’s included in the price?
- Deposits: How much is due with each deposit? What are the deposit due dates?
- Availability: What dates do you have available?
- Setup and cleanup times: When would you be able to start setting up the venue? How long do you have after the wedding to clean up?
- Capacity: How many guests does the venue hold? What extras can you fit into the venue?
- Food or drink minimums: If catering or drink services are included, what’s the minimum you need to spend on them?
- Staffing: Does the venue provide waitstaff and other services?
- Cancellation policies: Are there any charges for canceling? Are there any cancellation grace periods?
- Parking: What is the venue’s parking capacity?
9. Make a List of Pros and Cons for Each Potential Venue
If you are wondering how to choose between two wedding venues that you and your partner both love, a list of pros and cons can help!
After your visit to each venue, take some time while the information and tour are fresh in your mind to create a comprehensive list of pros and cons. Having this list at your disposal will help you make an informed decision and ensure you don’t overlook anything major like parking availability or alcohol regulations.
10. Always Stay True to Yourself
While you go through your choosing a wedding venue checklist, be sure you are making your decision based on what you and your future spouse truly want.
With so many strong opinions and arbitrary rules about weddings out there, it can be easy to forget that you are in charge of your big day. Find a venue that makes you happy and fits your vision. The more you stay true to yourselves as a couple when making big decisions for your wedding day, the more personal and special it will feel.
What to Bring to Look at Wedding Venues
When you visit prospective wedding venues, it’s smart to come prepared. Explore the following things to bring along to help you stay organized and gather important insights about each location:
- Notebook or tablet: As you explore different venues, take a few notes of things like available dates or points of contact. You can also use your phone or a tablet to record anything important that pops up during your visit.
- Your list of pertinent questions: Bring that list of your priorities and key questions you don’t want to forget to ask while you are exploring the venue. This will help ensure you are well-informed regarding things like alcohol policies or noise ordinances.
- Folder: While looking at different wedding venues, you may receive a few different pamphlets or brochures. Keeping these organized in a folder will help you refer back to them later when trying to make your final decisions.
- Money: It is no secret that wedding venues are often booked months in advance. Locking down your location can be a challenge if there is competition for a similar set of dates. Come prepared to put down a deposit to save your desired dates if you fall in love with a venue during your visit.
Wedding Venue Alcohol Policies to Consider
Alcohol policies are an important consideration when picking a venue. If you want to serve your guests drinks, whether it be signature cocktails or flutes of Champagne, first familiarize yourself with the following:
Check with your venue to ensure you understand all their rules and protocols regarding alcohol. They may have regulations regarding:
- Alcohol types allowed
- Requirements for servers
- Bringing your own alcohol
Consulting with the event coordinator will help you understand what you can and cannot do on the big day.
Anytime you serve alcohol at an event, you must comply with both local and state liquor laws. Even if you opt for a BYOB wedding, you’ll have to make sure you have the necessary permits and follow applicable laws for your celebration. You can learn more about the specific liquor control committee in your area, as the regulation varies by state.
The United States Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau shares links to each state’s alcohol control board so you can see what rules will apply to your wedding.
Turn to Marketview Liquor for Your Wedding’s Wine and Spirits
As you embark on the wedding planning process, consider what beverages you’d like to serve. Marketview Liquor has a wide variety of wines and spirits that are perfect for serving on your big day.
You can place your order online and have your bottles delivered right to your door. We offer free shipping to more than 40 states for orders of 12 or more select wines.