It can be overwhelming trying to narrow down the many wonderful choices for your wedding venue, but it’s the most important decision of the planning process! Every other decision you will make is contingent upon this one. But don’t be intimidated. There’s a methodical approach you can take to narrowing down your choices and making a decision.
Before going: Evaluate your needs and budget
If you know that your mom is going to push you to invite every third cousin on her side you may want to consider a venue that will accommodate a large number of guests. Do a quick outline of your total possible guest count and use that number for your venue’s capacity. As far as your budget is concerned, the reception will be the largest slice of the pie coming in at around 40-50% of our total budget. Figure out what that number looks like and hang onto it. This should account for food, beverage, chairs, tables, linens, cake, etc.
What about a Microwedding?
The pandemic forced couples to shrink their guest lists out of necessity, but a lot of couples are finding there are many benefits to a smaller guest list. With 50 or fewer guests you can spread your budget a little further and really wow your guests with more elevated decor or a truly incredible dinner. There are a variety of venues that become available when you drop your guest count as well, venues that can’t hold typical larger events and are a real point of differentiation to your wedding. Align.Space in West Chester, for example, is perfect for a microwedding and because it was originally built in a bank there are so many interesting details that act as conversation pieces for your guests (like the incredible vault door!).
Next: Location, location, location: Do you want to stay local? Did you always dream of a beach wedding? Figure out where you want to be and start there.
Now, with your guest count, budget, and location you’ve narrowed down thousands of venues to probably fewer than ten. So do your homework! The miracle of the internet allows you to visit these venues remotely. Check out pictures of the available rooms, read reviews, see if it fits your aesthetic. Choose your top three. Now you’re ready for a site visit!
Site Visit: What questions should you ask?
Schedule a tour with the venue manager and only bring the main decision makers with you. It will be easier for you to have them with you and ask the important questions, but not to have too many people that it’s distracting. When you go, there are a lot of questions you should ask to figure out if the venue is a good fit for you:
-Is the catering on site or do they use a third party catering company?
-Do they have a liquor license or will you be responsible for the alcohol?
-What’s included in the rental (ie. tables, chairs, linens, glassware, etc) and what will you be responsible for providing?
-Do they have any restrictions on decor you need to be aware of? (flameless candles, no rose petals, noise restrictions, etc)
-Do you have to use their vendors or can you choose your own?
-Can you walk me through the general flow of a wedding in this space? Where is the cocktail hour typically held, and where is the dinner and dancing?
-How flexible are you with customizing your packages?
-Is it handicap accessible?
-Do they allow more than one wedding on the same day?
-Is there parking on-site?
-Are there any available rooms/suites for you and your wedding party to get ready on-site?
Take lots of photos!
It’s possible that it might be love at first sight when you find the right venue for you, but you may be torn between a few choices. There will be a ton of photos online with the space styled for other weddings which may or may not be your taste. Your photos from your tour are not only a blank slate, but they are going to help you remember how you felt in the space while walking through it. Some feelings are hard to quantify with a pros and cons list (though that’s a helpful tool!), and if while looking back at the photos you remember getting a specific feeling, trust your gut! No amount of bullet points in your pros column should overtake your gut feeling if the space isn't right for your wedding.
BONUS TIP: Don’t be afraid to start over!
If you follow this list and narrow down your options and your final choices don’t feel like the right fit there’s no shame in starting over and going back to the drawing board! This is the biggest decision in planning your wedding so it’s important to get it right. If you feel like you need professional help or advice give us a call! We are happy to help you find the right space that is reflective of your individual needs and style. We love this part!
Olive Street Events is a full-service wedding planning and design company based in Philadelphia. As industry veterans with experience in both planning and venue management, enjoy peace of mind through the entire process knowing you are in very capable hands. Our couples are guided through the planning process with expert advice, creative vision and plenty of smiles and laughs along the way, making planning the wedding as enjoyable and memorable as the day itself. Our approach to wedding planning is thoughtful, collaborative, detailed and honest. We believe every wedding should be as unique and special as the couple themselves.
Originally built in 1908, align.Space's recent renovation transformed a historic building into a one-of-a-kind gathering destination. Our unique blend of historic and contemporary design creates a backdrop guaranteed to give your guests a memorable experience. With towering ceilings, intricate woodwork and stunning detail, align.Space serves as the perfect setting for your special day! Contact us to schedule a tour or check availability.
align.Space is Chester County’s premiere location for coworking, shared office space, private offices, conference rooms, production studio, and private events. Located in a renovated historic building in the heart of downtown West Chester, our stylish space is an ideal setting for anything meaningful to take place. Come and tour to learn more about our membership options and community offerings.
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