When looking at potential wedding venues, it can be easy to get carried away with beautiful locations or romantic architecture. But there are certain practicalities that must be kept in mind to make your special day as easy for you and as comfortable for guests as possible. Read on for a checklist of things to think about when you make that first visit to a venue.

Parking

The first thing you need to assess is parking. Make sure there is enough parking space for the number of guests you intend to invite. If parking is some distance from the venue, you may want to think about valet parking, at least for older guests and VIPs.

You also want to make sure there is an easy place for the bridal party to enter and a place for the honeymoon car when you make your grand exit.

Ceremony

If you are holding your ceremony in the same place as the reception, consider how you will make use of the venue space–where guests will be seated, where you will walk down the aisle, where you will take your vows, etc.

You can’t count on great weather, so make sure you have enough indoor space, or space for tents, if Mother Nature doesn’t comply. If you’re looking at a rustic setting, like a barn, will it be warm enough? Will an old mansion have air conditioning if the temperatures soar?

Also, you may want to have a prep area on-site for dressing, doing hair, etc., if you are not doing all that at home first. If you get dressed at the venue, you don’t have to worry about your dress, clothing, or hair getting mussed in a car on the way to the wedding.

Photos

You will be taking photos at your wedding that you want to last a lifetime. They will be framed and maybe even enlarged many times. Is the venue photographic enough for beautiful photos? Places by the sea or with lush gardens are great, but what if it rains? Is there a large staircase or foyer that would suffice for photo taking?

In Between

If you are completing your vows and holding your reception in the same spot, what will guests do in between? Do they need to go somewhere while a large room is transformed from one purpose to another? Will you be stopping for photos in between events? Will you have a receiving line?

Think about spaces at the venue where your guests can go, regardless of weather, in between the ceremony and reception, no matter what you are doing. If you want to park them in the garden with passed champagne and munchies, can you put a tent there if it rains?

Reception

Think about how you want your reception to run. Will you be having a buffet or served entrees? Make sure there is adequate space for the number of tables you need. Even if you’re not serving a full meal, you need some sort of seating for your guests. If you want to have a bar, is there space for it, or room for waiters to circulate with drinks?

Catering

Catering is a huge part of any wedding, and frankly, as lovely as your ceremony may be, what most guests will remember is the food. Do your caterers a favor and spend some time in the kitchen or food prep area so you know exactly what is there (if anything). If the venue hosts have specifics about the number of guests that can be comfortably served or the number of chefs that can work in the kitchen at one time, that will help.

Some things to consider:

  • Is there adequate counter space for food prep?
  • Are there ovens to cook or warm food?
  • Is there refrigeration, and is it big enough for large trays of food?
  • Is there adequate electricity for appliances?
  • Are there sinks?
  • Is there parking right outside where your caterers can load and unload easily?

Entertainment

Another thing people remember about weddings is the entertainment. If you are going to have a band, DJ, or dancing, is there space at the venue for that? Be sure to find out if they supply a dance floor, if needed, and if the electrical system can handle amps and electric instruments.

Another thing to ask about is an in-house piano. While the band may have their own keyboards, you may want a piano for the ceremony or for ambient music before or between events.

Restrooms

Make sure there are adequate restrooms for the event, especially ladies rooms. There should be a few that are wheelchair accessible or easy to use for senior guests. If the restrooms are inadequate, you’ll have to budget for portable restrooms outside.

Planning your wedding can be exciting but overwhelming. Don’t let the selection of your venue become a daunting task. Be organized and thorough, and you’ll find the perfect spot for your big day. To learn more, visit Elmcrest Banquets by Biancalana