weddingreceptiontableSelecting the perfect venue for your wedding reception is one of the most critical decisions you will make during your wedding-planning process. Having the right venue is the key to a successful wedding reception because so many of your planning decisions will hinge upon the venue that you choose.

Some couples hold their wedding reception at the same location as the ceremony, while others hold the ceremony and reception in two different locations—it all depends on what your wedding plan. No matter your plan is, bear the following tips in mind:

Start early. You should begin your venue search at least one year in advance of the wedding date. This will allow you enough time to get all of the other aspects of planning in place and deal with any conflicts or difficulties that may arise during your planning process.

Take your time. By starting your selection process early, you will be able to take your time to find the perfect place, allowing you to actually enjoy your search for a reception venue.

Make a list. List the different types of venues that would fit the style and theme of your wedding. Having a clear idea of what you’re looking for makes the process easier and less-stressful.

Set your budget in advance. Before you go out searching for venues, you need to know how much of your budget can be allotted to paying for the venue.

Size matters. The venue should be large enough to fit everyone but not awkwardly large. You want it to be small enough to still be intimate, but not so small that the guests have to pack in like sardines. Know in advance what you need for space- for example, will you need room for a large dance floor?

Get estimates. Obtain an estimate from every venue you visit so you can compare rates and see which one offers the best deal for your budget.

Come to an agreement. You and your fiancé need to be in agreement about the venue. You both need to feel that it is the right place for your celebration.

Visit in person. It’s important to visit any venue that you are considering renting. Photos are not enough to show you what a place is like. You (or someone you completely trust) need to visit the venue and get a feel for the place in person.

When you take a tour of a venue, you should come prepared with questions for the venue manager. Here are some questions you should be prepared to ask:

  1. What’s the cancellation policy? Be sure to review the cancellation policy in detail in case there is a last minute change of venue.
  2. How much parking is available? Make sure there is enough on-site parking to accommodate all of your guests.
  3. Is there a dressing room where the bride and groom can relax and change their clothes?
  4. Will you be allowed unlimited access to the venue’s facilities during the day?
  5. Will your wedding reception be the only event taking place at the venue that day?
  6. Is the venue handicapped accessible?
  7. Are children allowed at the venue?
  8. Is confetti permitted?
  9. Can candles be lit indoors?
  10. Are they licensed to serve alcohol and do they have a bar?
  11. Are you allowed to use your own caterer or does the venue require you to use their in-house caterer?
  12. Are there any noise restrictions?
  13. If the event space is outdoors, what is the backup plan in the event that it rains?

Budgeting Tips:

  • Consider renting a venue during off-peak season. This may save you some money due to the lull in demand that happens during the off-season.
  • Get estimates from every place you visit so you can compare rates and choose the best deal.
  • If they have their own bar, you can have an open bar but cap it at a set dollar amount.
  • Being flexible about the date, day of the week and the time of day will allow you to you choose other times that might be off-peak and possibly less expensive.
  • Keep things extremely casual, from dress to the facilities to food and drink.