Wedding Resources

Choosing Your Wedding Venue – 5 Things to Consider

March 23, 2023
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Choosing your wedding venue resource.  The front view of iconic Villa Balbiano.
Photography: Jen Huang Photo

When you’re thinking of your wedding, perhaps the first picture that comes to mind is a scene of you on your wedding day at a specific location or venue. And not surprisingly, choosing a wedding venue is usually one of the vendors a couple chooses first. As wedding planners, it is also one of the first things we work through with our couples if they haven’t chosen one yet.   

A while ago, we heard a question on a podcast: What is one vendor that every wedding must have? A venue or location!  Although that was not the first vendor that came to mind when we heard this question, we found this to be very true.  No matter if you’re getting married at an Italian villa, a manor, eloping or even at your home, you need a place to hold your wedding. 

For many people, it seems like there is an endless stream of decisions waiting for you right after you’re engaged. So we want to share 5 things to consider when you are choosing your wedding venue.  We hope that after reading these 5 considerations, you will feel more informed about how to choose a venue and will help you comfortably check off another item on your wedding planning list. 

5 Things to Consider When You’re Choosing Your Wedding Venue

1. Location

“Going the extra mile”

One of the most important things to consider when choosing your wedding venue is location.  The first thing to consider is whether your guests will be willing to travel a bit further for your wedding.  If you live in a city or planning to have a wedding in a city where mass transportation is not convenient, it may be better to choose a location where it will be easy for your guests to get to. 

For example, we used to live in Los Angeles, where driving 1 hour away for something is seen as common and expected.  However, when we moved back to Vancouver, a 20 minute drive felt like somewhere quite far.  So dependent on your crowd and where you reside, choosing an accessible location will be important.  

The expectation for destination weddings will be slightly different as guests might be staying on the property.  One thing that will be helpful for your guests will be easy access from the airport to the property. 

Couple getting ready to board the boat in Lake Como
Photography: Jen Huang Photo

2. Overtime

“All good things must come to an end”

Each venue is different in terms of when your wedding will have to end.  One question you would want to consider is what time you want your wedding celebration to go until and whether your crowd is the type to stay late into the night.

The duration of your wedding is also dependent on your culture.  When we went to work in Portugal and assisted with a wedding there, our Portugese friends told us that the average wedding concludes at 3 am with some ending at 4 or 5 am.  

For most venues in North America, the typical ending time will be 12 am.  Some venues located in a more private or residential area might require you to end at 10 pm.  If having the dancing or celebration go on for a long time is an important part of your wedding, it will be worthwhile to consider either looking at another venue or moving the celebration elsewhere.  From our experience, European venues are more flexible with their overtime.

Guests at dinner at Hycroft Manor Vancouver venue
Photography: Jen Huang Photo

3.  Indoor/Outdoor

“The best of both worlds”

Most of our couples choose a venue that has access to both indoor and outdoor space.  One important item to consider is whether the city you’re holding your wedding is prone to certain weather conditions. 

In Vancouver, also known as Raincouver, many couples have to take into consideration rain plans so many decide to opt for indoor venues so they don’t have to worry.  In Southern California, the sun is always around, so it will be easier to have weddings outdoors.  In Hong Kong, as it can be quite hot and humid, many couples prefer to have it indoors so that their guests can be comfortable in air conditioned space. 

Depending on the season, like winter or fall, indoors might be a better option.  We personally love venues that has a space for outdoor ceremony and receptions, but also a beautiful indoor area for guests to relax in. 

Choosing your wedding venue tip. Reception design at an indoor and outdoor venue
Photography: Jen Huang Photo

4.  Catering

“Nothing brings people together like good food”

Each venue is different in terms of food and as people who love food, this is an important part we review with our couples.  The important thing to consider when it comes to catering is do you have specific food you would like to serve to your guests?

Some venues have specified caterers so be sure to take a look to see if you are interested in their offerings.  These may or may not offer what you want to serve to your guests.  Other venues have their own kitchen staff so if food is important for you, and the food does not match your palate, we would recommend you to consider another venue. 

The last type of venue allows you to bring in any caterer you would like.  This provides the most flexibility in terms of menu and pricing and if you are working with a wedding planner, they will be able to guide you in selecting the right caterer.

Server holding a plate of hor d'oeuvres
Photography: Jen Huang Photo

5.  The Design

“Beauty lies in the eye of the beholder”

You are probably interested in a specific venue because you are drawn to the way it looks.  Aesthetics are very important in a venue, not only how it looks on the outside, but also on the inside. Things like nice furniture, decorations and other details will affect your design in a positive or negative way.  The question to consider for design is what is the general mood or theme you are going for?

This may be more difficult to figure out so if you are working with a wedding planner this is definitely something they can help you with.  We have seen some brides who wanted a modern wedding but booked a more historical venue when there was another option that would have been much more suitable to them.  If you want a certain theme or ambiance for your wedding, it is important that your venue and vendors you pick all have the same vision in mind. 

Our recommendation to our brides is that if the venue fits with their vision and looks good as it is, there is actually less you need to do to decorate the space for your wedding. If you’re looking for some venue inspiration, click here to see some beautiful venues across the world.

Choosing your wedding venue tip. 
Lobby area with furniture and views at Villa Balbiano
Photography: Jen Huang Photo

Additional tips

We hope you find these 5 tips useful as you are considering your wedding.  Other than the points we have brought up, we want to leave you with two additional points as you are on your venue search.  We have found that many times, venue websites do not fully showcase their true beauty online.

It’s important to set up a site visit to see how it looks in person.  Oftentimes, our couples are surprised to find that the venue looks different from what they imagine it to be.  If you are doing a destination wedding, this will be slightly different but choose a team that you trust so that they can recommend the best venue for you.

As you schedule the site visit, an additional tip is to visit the properties the same month as when you plan to get married.  For example, if you are getting married next August, try to visit the venue the August before so you will know how it looks.  One of our brides visited her wedding venue in the summer and when her wedding was held in early spring she was disappointed because there were less flowers in the garden than expected.

Starting your venue search

There are many resources available on venue search and it can be overwhelming.  Since venues are the first vendors you will be booking, take some time to consider what you want for your wedding.  

To help you make an informed decision on your wedding venue, we have put together a Venue Comparison Tool so you can compare it side by side.  Download this free tool so you can find that perfect venue!

This post was first published on October 26, 2020.

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