How to choose a wedding venue


Most brides can’t wait to start picking out their wedding gown, since it is often their top priority. Or other brides care most about their flowers or their cake. I was a little bit different and actually cared most about the venue. And since I wasn’t the girl to plan out my dream wedding for years, the thought that I was CLUELESS about where I wanted to get married one day made me nervous!!!

I suggest all brides start off with first deciding an area of the state that they want to have it in. For me, I wanted central Kentucky. This helped to eliminate several different places. Although that made things easier, it was also difficult because I knew that meant I couldn’t have it at a few places that were GORGEOUS but just too far from my home town, which I wanted the wedding to be relatively close by. Also,  consider transportation for your guests. Hotel ballrooms are great to have weddings in so that guests can safely stay right in the hotel and not travel a long distance. Other venues may be close enough to hotels which may even offer complimentary shuttle services.

Secondly, consider the type of vibe you're wanting. Do you want elegant and classic? Do you want rustic-country? Modern? Vintage? Or are you more of a combination or rustic and fashion, and therefore aiming for rustic chic like I'm doing? Many different venues can be like a chameleon with the right decorating, but I personally wanted a place beautiful enough on its own to not require much decorations. However, other brides may prefer a venue such as a ballroom that can be like a blank canvas for them to paint.

Next, I suggest brides consider the size of their wedding to see which places should be eliminated because of size. Many venues that I was in LOVE with were actually much smaller than I realized. Although they claim that they can fit a certain number of guests in their building, once I actually visited the venue, I realized how much smaller it was. It’s important to factor in tables for the guests, room for chairs (and for those chairs to slide in and out from under the table, cake tables, a dj table, and of course a dance floor.) I was not about to compromise room for a dance floor since that’s what I want my wedding reception to be centered around. A good rule of thumb for how much space you need can be found at this wonderful site I came across, however other sites list different amounts of the recommended sq feet per person, so take this as an estimate:

Third, consider if you want an indoor or outdoor wedding and reception. I personally really wanted an outdoor wedding, but that might not be ideal for weddings year around of course. Or it may simply add more nerves to the day if you have to worry about weather and deal with the weather. Also, many venues only offer their land, and you supply everything else. So this means you have to factor in the cost of a tent, chairs, possibly air conditioners/heaters/fans, dance floors, and ALL decorations. Tented, outdoor weddings are beautiful, but are often the same cost of a reception venue with air conditioning and all the other benefits that come along with solid buildings. Many tents are in the thousands to rent, not including tables, chairs, and etc.  So just make sure you have ALL the costs of what it would take to do a reception/ceremony outdoors instead of just instantly jumping on the opportunity to book a venue that is solely for use of their land with nothing included.

Next you want the ceremony and the reception all in one venue? This really simplifies things for your guests who won’t have to travel. However, it may not work if the venue would only fit your guest list for side-by-side seating, but not seating with tables for the reception. Also, if both the ceremony and reception are at the same location, you and your groom may have less time for photos between the ceremony and reception ( I recommend doing a ‘first look’ by doing most of the photos before the ceremony anyway, but it seems like there are still some to fit in after the ceremony with family no matter what).

Lastly, and I can't stress this one enough.... make sure you get the VERY final quote on price and make sure it fits within your budget. The ceremony/reception venue rental fees and everything needed to make it complete will take up the bulk of your entire budget. SOOOOO many venues have hidden fees for "bridal rooms," "mandatory bartenders," the fact that you have to use their wines/beers, employer fees, set up/tear down fees, coordinator fees, and of course KY sales tax. Many also have rules where you have to have music off at a certain time or be out of the venue by a certain time. So even though one place looks the most affordable at first glance, make sure you have the very bottom dollar amount before signing on any dotted line. This was also where I personally found making an excel sheet with the venue's rental fee, how many chairs/tables I would need to rent in addition to what they offered (most places only offer around 150 chairs or so), any hidden fees, tax, additional things I would need to rent (some places come with a dance floor, some do not yet make you rent one),  decorations (some place need more than others), and other factors to come to the TRUE final price of each venue. Often the ones with the cheapest rental fee ended up being some of the most expensive options at the end.

If you'd like a copy of this excel sheet that I made with local, central ky venues, please leave a comment with your email address and I'll get it to you as fast as I can!

In my next blog post, I’ll share about SPECIFIC wedding venues in Kentucky. Believe me, I know em! Zac calmly and patiently drove miles and miles with me to 9 different venue appointments, not including  several others I emailed/researched. So if you have a question about one, come back to read my next post!

 All photos were found on Pintrest (of course!) except for the bottom one which is courtesy of Bluegrass Wedding Barn :)