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Choosing a Wedding Venue: What to Consider

A bride and groom kiss in front of the chapel at Park Chateau wedding venue in East Brunswick, NJ.

There are SO many different pieces that need to come together in order to plan your wedding. It can definitely get overwhelming if you don’t know where to begin, so I’m sharing a few helpful tips to get you started with part 1: choosing a wedding venue!

Firstly, CONGRATULATIONS on getting engaged to the love of your life! Before you start with planning anything, make sure you take the time to pop some bubbly, celebrate with family & friends, and spend some time soaking in the fact that YOU’RE ENGAGED!!! This season of being engaged is so special, and deserves some focused time soaking it up with each other!

Once you’re ready to dive into wedding planning, what is the first thing you will book? Selecting your wedding venue and date are number one on the list! Once you’ve locked in the location and date, everything else comes a little more naturally! When planning my own wedding, narrowing down a venue was the hardest part. With seemingly endless options I started to get overwhelmed, until I figured out a way to make it easier on my brain: a SPREADSHEET! 🙂

TLDR: Here’s the scoop! I created a venue planning spreadsheet for myself, and because I found it SO helpful, I made one for you, too! Click this link to download your very own venue planning spreadsheet! I recommend you keep on reading for some highlights and tips on how to use this spreadsheet most effectively!

Defining Your Priorities for Choosing a Wedding Venue

It’s important to define what your & your fiancé’s priorities are when it comes to your wedding venue. Is it crucial for you to have a bridal suite on site to get ready in? Is an outdoor reception space a must? Do you want to ensure you choose a venue who has a solid back up plan for inclement weather? What ever those key important priorities are, make sure to include them on your spreadsheet! When you get your free download, you’ll see that I already started the spreadsheet with some common priorities couples consider. But feel free to edit and tweak to fit the priorities most important to to you!

You also may not realize some of your non-negotiables until you start reaching out to venues and hearing what they offer! For example, at first I didn’t factor in the fact that many venues restrict your arrival time day of your wedding. After hearing about tighter limitations from some venues, I realized the importance of choosing a venue with flexible timing that would allow me to arrive earlier in the day! So as you continue your venue research, the beauty of the spreadsheet is that you can continue to update and add to it as you go!

Outdoor ceremony space is set for a wedding with a wine barrel under the main arch and white folding chairs for guests, at Avensole Winery wedding venue in Temecula, California.

Keeping Track of Details

I found that most venues had differing and sporadic information readily available online. Upon reaching to venues out I also realized that the way the send out additional information also varies greatly! Sometimes I would receive more info in a PDF or website or simply in the text of an email. Organizing the information I received on the spreadsheet made it easy for me to see & compare details for all the venues in one place, as well as easily keep track of new information as I received it! I recommend updating your spreadsheet regularly with new information when you receive it! This will prevent a head-spinning backlog of PDFs to sort through later!

When you start reaching out, if a venue doesn’t provide information on one of your top priority items in their additional information packet, this will help guide you in asking the right questions! If their information guide doesn’t tell you about their catering options or whether alcohol is included, make sure to send a follow up email to ask about those top priority factors!

A view of the San Clemente pier and the Pacific Ocean framed in an archway at the Casa Romantica wedding venue in Orange County.

Narrowing Down the List

Once you start filling in the spreadsheet you’ll begin to see which venues align the most with your priorities and which ones have some deal-breakers. This will help you start narrowing down! You won’t necessarily NEED to go visit a ton of different venues in person if you can narrow it down to your top few choices based on how well they fit your priorities.

Tracking Your Outreach

This spreadsheet is designed to also help you track the status of your outreach! The response times from venues can vary, and sometimes you may need to submit a form on their website rather than emailing directly. This can make it challenging to keep track of who you’ve already reached out to, and when! Use the drop down menus in the “Inquiry Status” column of the spreadsheet to track your outreach!!

I hope you find this blog post and spreadsheet helpful! If you haven’t already, you can download your venue planning spreadsheet HERE!! And feel free to send me any questions you have about the spreadsheet, or any way I can be of help to you in the wedding planning process! Happy wedding planning!! xoxo

If you found this post about choosing a wedding venue helpful, you’ll probably also love this blog post: Wedding Decor Design Tips from a Real Bride!

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