Do you know what your dream venue is? If not, that’s ok. I could never really imagine mine until I got engaged and my mother was the one who suggested it. It was someplace my family had been going to for years. Every Easter we would drive down to the Hilton in Key Largo to have brunch and enjoy the beach. I have such fond memories with my cousins and grandparents there that it holds a very special place in my heart. My grandparents passed away some years ago but I always imagined that they would be there on my wedding day. When touring this venue, I could feel their presence, and knew that it was the one, even though I hadn’t seen any other venues yet.

For some, venue searching can be easy, but for others, it’s not. I was very lucky in finding my venue and that it checked off all of our requirements. People can get caught up in just the beauty of a location and forget about everything else. I’ve put together a list of eight of the most important things you should be taking into consideration when touring a venue.

1. Available Dates

When touring a venue you should already have an idea of the date if not the month or time of year you would like for your wedding to take place. The site may or may not have the date you want available. If they do, that’s great! Put a hold on it. You can normally hold a date free of charge for up to two weeks. If they don’t have the date you want available, ask for other possible dates that are close to the one you originally wanted. Once you and your partner have decided on a date put a hold on it as soon as possible so you don’t lose it.   

2. Site Costs

If you will be doing both your ceremony and reception at the same location there may be two separate fees associated with this. Find out how much each of those fees is so you will be fully aware of the total costs you will have to pay. Also find out what is included with the venue. Do they provide their own caterer, bartenders, and servers? Do they also provide all necessary rentals such as tables, chairs, linens, etc? If these things are not provided, they will be additional costs you will need to take into consideration. 

3. Capacity limits

Most venues will have different event spaces for you to choose from. Find out what the capacity allowance for each space is. You cannot exceed this number so it is very important you already have an idea of what your guest count will be. As well as for the aesthetics, you do not want to be below this number by a lot either and end up having a partially filled space. 

4. End Time

Venues will normally provide you with a package for a certain amount of hours that you are allowed to be at their venue for. You are usually allowed to extend those hours for a fee. Find out how late you are allowed to be at a venue as well as what time there noise allowance goes until. Especially if you are having your wedding at a venue that is in a residential area there will be a noise cutoff time for outdoor functions. Know in advance so you can plan ahead. 

5. Parking

A very important factor to take into consideration is parking. Will you need to hire a valet service or will the venue provide? If your guest’s can self park, where can they do that and will there be a fee? No matter what, there needs to be parking available for your guests.

6. Driving Distance

If your ceremony and reception will be taking place in two different locations, take into consideration the amount of time it will take to get from one location to another. Also take into consideration how far your guests will have to travel. If your ceremony and reception will be more than 100 km or 60 miles away from the city where most of your guests will be traveling from, then they may need to stay in a hotel overnight. Are there hotels near by your venue? If so, you may want to look into organizing a room block for your guests.

7. Bridal Suite

Most venues come with a bridal suite that you can decide to use or not. It’s great for those that are having their ceremony and reception taking place at the same location. You can arrive early and get ready on-site with the peace of mind knowing that if you’re running behind schedule you’re already at the location. It’s also a great space for you as a couple to take a quick break in after the ceremony and during the reception. Even if you decide to get ready at your family’s home or at a hotel, it’s great to know if the venue offers you this Bridal Suite to use later on in the evening.

8. How does it make you feel?

This is the most important point of all. How does it make you feel? Can you picture yourselves getting married there? The reactions you get from seeing a venue online may be very different to when you see it in person. Never put down a deposit site unseen. Always go in person and see the venue. You will know if it’s meant to be or not. Listen to the reactions your body is giving you. Your venue is out there so just be patient and flexible when searching.

Even if the very first venue you go to is the winner, visit at least two more venues just to make sure. The rule of thumb when making a decision is to view things in groups of three. You want to have options given to you so you can make the best possible decision. In my case when I went venue searching, I viewed three different locations with the first one being the one we chose. There were more venues I had made appointments to go and see but I canceled. I already knew from my other two viewings that nothing would compare to the first location and provide us with what we envisioned for our wedding. You know when you know so trust your gut. Best of luck to those that are starting their venue search. I hope these pointers can be of some help to you.