Choosing the Perfect Wedding Venue: A Step-by-Step Guide

Choosing the Perfect Wedding Venue: A Step-by-Step Guide

Epic dancing, great food, happy tears, and your loved ones are of course main elements of your wedding day - but none of these things can happen without a location that fits who you are! 

There’s a reason that in my first meeting with clients I ask them either why they chose the venue they did, or why they are thinking about a particular venue. It is so critical to book a venue that means something to you as a couple and fits with the vision of your day. But where do you start? How do you know if it’s the right venue? Grab a hot beverage, settle in, and let’s look at a step-by-step process for finding that perfect spot.

Bride and groom under a glass urban roof


Chapter 1: Begin with Your Love Story

Every couple’s love story is special and distinct, and it’s that uniqueness that can serve as inspiration for your wedding venue choice. Think back through your journey together and pick out some favourite, memorable moments with the two of you. Where were you? What did you do? What did you see? Maybe it’s the beach that you were engaged on and is already extremely meaningful to you. Or perhaps it’s that you both love history and fantasy, and that castle on the hill would be a perfect setting for your “I Dos”. By anchoring your venue selection in your love story, you’re setting the stage for a wedding day that feels like a natural extension of your unique journey.

Bonus: A venue you can come back to for your anniversary is a future memory waiting to happen!

Bride and groom climbing over rocks next to the ocean

Amee Longpre Photography


Chapter 2: Define Your Wedding "Why" and Vision

Before you start browsing venues, it's essential to have a deep understanding of your "why" and the vision you hold for your wedding. This is the foundation upon which your entire wedding will be built. Your "why" represents the core values, dreams, and intentions you have as a couple.

It's about more than just throwing a party; it's about celebrating your love, commitment, and shared aspirations.

Take some time to sit down with your partner and ask yourselves some meaningful questions. What things represent your love and journey? What kind of atmosphere do you want to create on your wedding day? What do you hope your guests will feel and experience? By defining your "why," you'll be better equipped to make choices that truly resonate with you.

Once you've clarified your "why," it's time to envision the details. What style and theme speak to your personalities and love story? Is it a classic, elegant affair, a rustic and charming celebration, a sleek modern gathering, or a fusion of various elements that define you as a couple? Your style and theme will guide you toward venues that complement your vision.

bride and groom walking through a vineyard

Taylor Dawning Photography


Chapter 3: Determine Your Style and Theme

Your wedding style and theme should seamlessly align with your "why" and love story. They are the threads that weave together the fabric of your celebration. Your style will dictate the aesthetics, from the decor to the attire, while your theme will add a layer of uniqueness, creating a consistent and memorable experience for you and your guests.

To identify your preferred style and theme, consider your personal tastes and interests. Think about the environments and settings that resonate with you both. Your venue should be a reflection of your style, so explore places that naturally embody the look and feel you desire. Classic ballrooms, countryside barns, contemporary urban spaces, and historical landmarks each have a distinct style, and by recognizing your preference, you'll narrow down your choices.


bride and groom in traditional Sikh ceremony attire in front of St Ann's Academy

Luke Liable Photography


Chapter 4: Budget Considerations

While it's not the most romantic part of the planning process, understanding your budget is crucial. Before you fall head over heels for a venue, determine how much you can realistically spend on it. This will help you set the boundaries for your search and avoid disappointment.

Sit down together and create a detailed budget, allocating a specific portion for the venue. Keep in mind that your budget isn't just about the rental cost; it includes expenses for decor, catering, and other services you'll need. Stick to your budget and avoid venues that stretch your financial limits. There are fantastic venues available at various price points, so finding one that fits your budget is entirely possible.

Don’t feel discouraged if a venue that you love might be out of your ideal budget. Identify what you love about that venue and take that with you! It can be the foundation for finding the perfect venue you just haven’t seen yet!

bride and groom walking on a gravel path towards a white glass green house

Taylor Dawning Photography


Chapter 5: Guest List and Capacity

The size of your guest list plays a significant role in determining the right venue. A grand ballroom may not be suitable for an intimate gathering of close friends and family, just as a cozy garden space might not accommodate a larger celebration.

Start by creating a preliminary guest list to estimate the number of attendees. Venues often have specific capacity limits, so understanding your guest count will help you find a space that comfortably accommodates everyone. Whether you're planning an intimate wedding or a grand celebration, there's a venue that can cater to your needs. Tailor your venue search to match your guest list size.

wedding ceremony taking place under a large white pavilion gazebo in front of a hotel

Devee Photography


Chapter 6: Location and Accessibility

The location of your venue is not just a logistical consideration; it can significantly impact the overall feel of your wedding. Think about proximity to your home, accessibility for your guests, and potential travel arrangements. Do you envision a local celebration, or are you drawn to a destination wedding for a unique experience?

If you're considering a destination wedding, research the locations you have in mind and visit them in person or virtually. Ensure that the chosen location aligns with your "why" and vision, and that it's a place where you and your guests will feel comfortable and inspired.

bride and groom walking down a wooden dock

Devee Photography


Chapter 7: Venue Amenities and Services

When selecting a venue, it's important to consider the amenities and services they offer. Venues with on-site catering, event coordination, and other conveniences can simplify the planning process and enhance the overall experience.

Couples often find that these venues not only save them time and stress but also provide an extra layer of expertise to make their wedding day extraordinary. Take the time to explore what each venue has to offer in terms of amenities and services, and consider how they align with your vision.

wedding party around a u-shaped table in front of a large window

Carla Elaine Photography


Chapter 8: Visit and Evaluate Venues

Once you've done your homework, it's time to visit potential venues in person. Nothing compares to experiencing the ambiance and energy of a place firsthand. During your visits, take note of important factors such as the layout, lighting, acoustics, and overall atmosphere. Use a checklist to evaluate each venue's suitability.

These visits are the perfect opportunity to envision your wedding day in that space. Can you see your ceremony taking place there? How about the reception? Make sure the venue aligns with your "why," style, and theme, and that it feels like the right fit for your event.

bride and groom celebrating outside of an old stone building entranceway

Mariah Jaclyn Photography


Chapter 9: Ask the Right Questions

As you visit and evaluate venues, be sure to ask the right questions. This is your chance to clarify any doubts and gather essential information. Inquire about pricing, availability, restrictions, and policies, and make sure everything aligns with your expectations.

Don't be shy – asking questions can prevent unexpected surprises down the road.

men in suits standing in a stone alley at Fort Commons

Luke Liable Photography


Chapter 10: Make an Informed Decision

After going through each step of the venue selection process, it's time to make an informed decision. Review your notes, insights from venue visits, and the answers to your questions. Trust your instincts and go with the venue that resonates most with your "why" and vision.

ceremony taking place on a sandy beach with blue ocean in the background

Mariah Jaclyn Photography


Your wedding venue is more than just a backdrop; it's a significant part of your love story. By anchoring your choice in your unique journey, understanding your core values, defining your style and theme, setting a budget, considering your guest list, and examining location and amenities, you'll be well on your way to finding the perfect spot.

I'm committed to helping couples like you create weddings that are personal, unique, and reflective of you. If you have any questions or need assistance in your venue selection and wedding planning journey, get in touch with me to see how I can help you!

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