Quest for the Wedding Venue: Five Steps to Success

Posted by Azure on January 15th, 2013

Hello brideys! You're newly engaged (congrats!), obsessed with your bling (obvi), and ready to get the wedding planning ball rolling! One of the most daunting steps of the entire planning process is finding and booking a venue, but it can also be one of the most rewarding and impactful decisions you'll make. So follow the simple steps below, and your quest for the perfect venue will be a success!

Step 1 - Sit down with your groom with two goals in mind. First, to get a general idea of the most important venue characteristics/features to each person (and what characteristics/features you can agree on). And two, to get a rough guest count down on paper. I'd suggest adding 20 or so guests to the rough count you come up with just to be safe.

Step 2- Once step one is complete, it's time to start your research! Since you know about how many guests you'll invite, and what venue characteristics are most important, you can quickly eliminate venues that don't fit the bill. You can search for venues online (try OneWed's local vendor search) and in local bridal magazines, or hire a planner who, if reputable, should know all the locations in town that deliver exactly what you want. Try to wrap up step two with a list of at least five, no more than 15, viable venues that both you and your groom love.

Step 3- Email all the venues you're interested in to request additional information, and if possible, reach out to all the locations on the same day. This will help you gauge the responsiveness of each venue's staff, and eliminate the options that don't appear to want your business (I.e. Take over a week to get back to you). Once you have all the info on all the venues, do a side by side comparison, and eliminate any that don't fit your budget. This part is tough... but a crucial step in finding the right fit.

Step 4- This step is optional, but has proved to be super helpful in my planning journey! Take your list of remaining viable venues and show it to a few trusted friends who recently tied the knot. Chances are, your friends considered some of these venues, did thorough research, and visited the locations to ultimately make a choice. And you know your friends will shoot you straight, and divulge details a venue's staff wouldn't. You may end up eliminating a few more venues on your list of possibilities in this step, but you may also add a few new options you hadn't previously considered. 

Step 5- Now that you have your final list of potential wedding venues, it's time to set up your visits! Seeing each venue in person, meeting the folks you'd be working with, and getting the scoop on availability will help you zero in on one, so you can pull the trigger, book the venue, and have a huge weight lifted off your shoulders!

Questions to Ask when researching venues

  • Does the venue book multiple weddings per day/night? If so, how do they ensure privacy for each party?
  • What is the catering/beverage minimum? $10,000 to $30,000 seems to be the typical range for downtown Chicago venues.
  • Can you only work with certain vendors? Some venues require you to work with their preferred or in-house caterer, an on-staff planner, etc.
  • How creative can you get with the space? What restrictions are there with regard to transforming and decorating the venue? Are candles ok? How about a DIY backdrop?
  • Is it dog and/or kid friendly? If you want your pup or kiddos involved, make sure the venue isn't 21+ or non-animal friendly.
Posted in Venues


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