Over the years, I have had the privilege of working in so many different countries, creating destination weddings and editorial shoots for clients all over the world: Thailand, Bali (Indonesia), France, Spain, Switzerland, England…
My most favourite part of each of these experiences is searching for venues, and working with each unique environment to create authentic, culturally reflective events and designs.
What to me is a fun (although challenging!) part of my job, might seem to engaged couples like an impossible task, with so many things to consider, and tons of compromises and decisions to be made.
I’ve got you covered! Today we’re going to look at the series of questions to ask yourself when looking for a perfect venue. As a bonus, I’ve created a special worksheet for you to facilitate your choice after you’ve shortlisted a few venues to pick from.
Let’s get started!
Your overall vision is what you need to start with.
Some people dream of their perfect wedding since they were kids, but even if you didn’t, close your eyes and imagine how you want the day TO FEEL.
Which season do you want it to be? If it’s summer, outdoor venues are a wonderful idea, if it’s winter, then it’s best to look at cozy indoors.
What feeling do you want to convey? This question is more of a reflection on who you are as a couple and individually. Are you city people or more drawn to nature? Do you like simplicity or elaborate sophistication? Are you more chilled and relaxed or love a good crazy party?
It’s a good idea to write out 3-5 words to describe how you want your venue to feel. We’ll later use it to compare shortlisted venues in our checklist.
The next fundamental question to ask yourself is: do you want your wedding to be destination or local?
To work this out, consider your general lifestyle. Do you travel often? How adventurous are your travels?
If you are a frequent traveller, and you enjoy challenges, a destination wedding is definitely a good choice. It will require a little more dedication to plan, and definitely will need the help of a professional wedding planner /director/coordination, but it’s all worth it in the end!
You can pick a destination that you want to spend your honeymoon at, so you can set off for your adventure of a lifetime right after you share your I DOs.
CONSIDER YOUR BUDGET
Depending on how big your wedding is, venue and catering can count up to 40% of your total wedding budget, so you do need to set clear expectations of what you are ready to spend here.
Do not think, however, that compromising on your venue saving up on your venue will help you to save money overall. Oftentimes, if you choose a venue that doesn’t look quite what you want it to look, you can end up spending way more on flower and decor to bring it to the state that you’re happy with.
Work with your wedding planner and creative director to figure out the best way to handle it.
It’s worth checking if the venue supplies rentals and catering: some are only open to a restricted list of vendors, others provide their own.
If the venue already has the rentals and catering you love, you can include these costs into your venue budget as well.
Do ask the venue if the following things are supplied or will need to be outsourced:
— rain plan (tent / marquee)
— light and sound equipment
Last but not least is its importance — your guest count. Are you thinking of an intimate cozy gathering for a few closest people? Or a large party to have all your extended family, childhood friends and international colleagues over?
The bigger the number you’re thinking of, the more limited your choice of venues becomes (and the higher your spending gets, with food & beverage being the biggest contributing item to the budget).
Once you answer these questions to yourself, you should have a pretty solid venue portrait in front of you.
Sit together over a glass of wine/cup of tea, and write it all down, before looking at specific venues, to not be overwhelmed by a staggering amount of options available in the first place.
Got your perfect picture sorted? Now start looking at a specific destination, making sure that each venue ticks of your major requirements.
As a final step, shortlist 3-6 venues and schedule a visit: either a personal one, together with your planner & creative director, or the one just for your planner (who will be able to advise based on their experience and their communications with you).
Especially for that, I have created a VENUE CHOICE CHECKLIST to make your life easier!
All images in the feature are taken by Sandra Åberg Photography, project styled and planned by Xenia Motif
Head image by Blush Wedding Photography, design: Xenia Motif