Selecting a wedding venue is one of the biggest choices you’ll make when planning your wedding, and it’s often the first.  If you opt for a hotel or resort, the venue and it’s associated costs are likely the largest line item in your budget. No matter where you’re getting married, the venue will have an impact on just about every other element of your wedding.  No pressure, right? Read on for my 5 step process to narrowing the field and finding your ideal wedding venue!

...the venue and it’s associated costs are likely the largest line item in your budget. And no matter where you’re getting married, your venue will have an impact on just about every other element of your wedding.

1. Prepare: Before beginning your venue search, you’ll need to prepare a few things.  Many brides overlook this step, but it’s actually the most critical to a successful venue search!

  • Wedding Budget: You don’t need to have your budget fully allocated just yet, but you do need to know the total amount you plan to spend.  Expect to spend 50% of your total budget on your venue, food & beverage. 

  • Guest List: know how many people you plan to invite to your wedding including plus ones.  While not everyone you invite will attend, 80% is a safe estimate at this stage..

  • Wedding Date(s): It’s best to have a few possible dates in mind as popular wedding venues may book up more than a year in advance.

  • Wedding Style: Having a general sense of your wedding style will help you hone in on your ideal venue.  Consider formality, how you want your guests to feel, and if there is a specific aesthetic you gravitate towards.

El Chorro Wedding with View of Camelback Mountain, Karlee K Photography

2. Prequalify: Rule out any venues that are not available on the date(s) you are considering, are too small to accommodate your guest count, or whose food & beverage minimum and associated costs are greater than 50% of your overall wedding budget. 

Arizona Biltmore | Melissa Jill Photography

3. Non-negotiables: Make a list of elements that are absolute musts for your wedding.  This might be accommodations for a 12 piece band, catering an all vegan menu or a ceremony location that is private from hotel guests.  Remove any venues that can’t meet your nonnegotiable criteria.

The Scott Resort in Scottsdale

4. Logistics: Consider logistical challenges that could impact your wedding day.  For example, does a venue have noise restrictions that would limit your music options?  Would you need to provide guest transportation due to limited parking or a remote location?  Can your event be moved inside in the case of inclement weather, or would you need a tent?  If a venue poses a logistical challenge you simply aren’t comfortable with, strike it from the list. 

5. Style: Going one venue at a time, consider if a venue is complimentary to your wedding vision?  Is the existing decor similar to the look and feel you want?  Is it a blank space that would require significant decor installations to achieve your vision?  Are there elements that would clash?  

If you’re feeling overwhelmed or realize you simply don’t have the time, consider speaking with a professional wedding planner. The best time to hire a wedding planner is before you start the planning!


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