9 Things to Keep in Mind As You're Viewing Venues for the Big Day

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Find out the maximum AND minimum occupancy levels.

Even in the early stages of wedding planning, you probably have a good idea of how many people you want to invite to your big day. So make sure you ask about how many people the venue can fit before you fall TOO far in love. If the venue is too small to comfortably accommodate the number of guests you plan on inviting, well, you’re going to want to move on to the next one. A packed venue will mean uncomfortable guests, which could totally kill the vibe of your wedding. Likewise, if you are going to have a more intimate gathering, you don’t want to choose a location that's too large, because your event will end up looking awkward and empty instead of warm and full of all your loved ones. Some venues even have a minimum headcount requirement, so make sure you'll be able to meet that number once you get all the regrets back from your friends and family. 

Ask about any décor limitations

Does your dream wedding theme require a LOT of elaborate decorations (we're looking at you Kimye's flower wall)? If so, check with the venue to make sure that there aren’t any restrictions on what you can do. For instance, if you have grand plans to drape fabric from the ceiling, make sure you actually can before you commit to the space. Many sites, especially historic venues and those set in nature, do limit the amount and the type of decorations you can use because of posterity and fire hazards and such. If these limitations will impact your ability to make your dream theme come to life, you’re probably going to want to keep on searching.

Ask what the venue provides in their basic package.

When you walk into the venue, you may see tables and chairs set up, but is that included? Is there a venue coordinator? Are the votives for your cocktail hour? Ask for sample menus, the tablecloth options, the napkin colors, whatever little details might make an impact on your big day. Once you get the verbal confirmation of what's included with the basic package (and what would be an added cost), make sure you get it in writing. If the person showing you the venue ever leaves during the planning process, you don't want to have to fight to get what he/she told you was possible. 

Check on the site's handicap accessibility.

 This is a really important to ask if you have any guests that will require wheelchair-friendly access on your big day. You obviously want a great venue, but you also want to make sure that all of your guests can get around the venue with ease so they can enjoy the night. Wheelchair ramps, handicap bathroom stalls, and easy-to-access seating are all key things that you should keep in mind when picking out your venue. While the majority of venues will comply with the American’s with Disabilities Act’s (ADA) regulations and requirements for handicap accessibility, it’s always a wise idea to check it out yourself. 

What's the restroom situation like?

Bathrooms may not be at the top of your list when you're visiting venues, but they should be! While they may not be what people remember about your wedding (well, hopefully), they can make or break your event. If there aren't enough, your guests could end up waiting in line instead of hitting the dance floor. If they're not easily accessible to the reception site, you might spend a lot of time walking back and forth to the facilities instead of spending time with your nearest and dearest. Other things to pay attention to include the lighting and the number of mirrors in the loo; particularly in the ladies room — touch-ups will be going down at some point and you don't want to clog up the counters!

Determine the distance between the reception venue and the ceremony site.

If the ceremony is going to be held in a church, a temple, or any other location other than your reception venue, you want to figure how exactly how much time you'll need to allow for when transporting your guests from place to place. It's best to keep the two spots as close together as possible from a logistics point of view. Guests, especially out-of-towners, probably won’t be very happy about having to make a long trek from one location to another. A good rule of thumb? Try to pick a venue that takes no longer than 30 minutes to get to from the ceremony site. If it turns out that your dream venue is a far distance from where you want to say "I do," offer refreshments that your guests can enjoy during the journey (everyone loves a goodie bag!) or provide transportation and boozy beverages for all. 

Take a look at the traffic in the area.

 Another thing you’ll want to take into consideration when choosing your party place is the traffic patterns around it. If you’re going to have an outdoor cocktail hour, for example, you probably don’t want to choose a spot that overlooks a major intersection or busy street. There’s nothing romantic about hearing cars whizzing by and horns honking as you're trying to get the party started. Before you leave the premises, take a quick drive (or walk, if possible) around the area to see if there are highway off-ramps that empty out right near the entrance of your venue. Ask the venue coordinator to describe what the traffic is like around the time that you'll be expecting guests to be arriving AND leaving to get a good understanding. 

Bring along a camera.

Before signing on the dotted line, you’re going to want to sit down and revisit each of the venues you looked at. Take a camera with you, or make sure you have enough room on your phone so that you can snap some photos of each venue. You’ll be happy you have pictures on hand so you can easily compare and contrast the features that each venue has to offer. And, trust us; if you're checking out more than three or four venues, they'll all start to blend together at some point. The photo evidence will definitely help make the reviewing process easier on you. 


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Featuring our Planning Posse