May 10, 2018

How to Choose a Wedding Venue: Part 1

I’ve had a lot of engaged couples and friends ask me how to choose a wedding venue, especially since I just chose my own wedding venue. Today I’m giving you the answers, so you can make the best decisions about your venue. This is just Part 1, so stay tuned for Part 2 of How to Choose a Wedding Venue next week!
How to Choose a Wedding Venue - Part 1, Tips for choosing your perfect dream wedding venue

1. Choose Your City

This one’s kind of a no brainer, but maybe you have no idea where you want to get married. Consider the following when choosing your wedding city:

  • Distance you have to travel (consider costs)
  • Distance the majority of your guests will have to travel (consider their costs as well)
  • Is the city special and meaningful to you? Is it just really beautiful?
  • What will the weather be like in the city during your desired wedding month?
  • Does the city offer the type of environment you want for your wedding (skylines, beaches, dessert, etc.)?
Wide architectural epic engagement photo, Bride in red dress with groom in navy suit for San Francisco City Hall Engagement Photos on the 4th floor, Cavin Elizabeth Photography

2. Set Your Budget

You absolutely must set a budget before your first venue Google search. There’s nothing worse than falling in love with a venue that is far outside your price range. When it comes to venues, there are a few budgetary considerations:

  • Does the venue provide catering and bar service? If so, your catering and venue budgets will combine.
  • Factor in rentals. If you choose a bare bones venue, know you’ll have to increase your rentals budget.
  • Will the venue you choose affect transportation costs? For example, if it’s not a hotel, you will likely have to spend money on transportation to and from the venue.
Epic landscape Palm Springs mountains wedding photo of a bride and groom, Cavin Elizabeth Photography at La Quinta Resort

3. Create Your Guest List

Venues always have a maximum capacity, so create your guest list before your venue search to ensure everybody will fit. You also want to avoid choosing a venue that holds 300 people if your wedding will only have 50 guests unless you can afford draping or hedges to section it off. Doing so will ensure you don’t lose the intimacy of the wedding.

Here’s a more detailed explanation of why you should create your guest list before choosing your venue.
Grey linen with organic white and peach and green floral centerpiece, Navy and magenta Details Details Holiday Party at Twenty Eight OC, Cavin Elizabeth Photography

4. Choose a Style

It’s a great idea to choose your style of wedding before booking a venue. If you know you’ve always wanted a bohemian wedding, then you likely won’t be interested in hotel ballrooms or sleek contemporary venues. Dream of having a reception under the stars? You know you’ll need a venue that allows for outdoor receptions.
Black pink and gold wedding inspiration or rehearsal dinner inspiration, Cavin Elizabeth and Amorology
Those are just 4 different steps for finding your dream wedding venue. For more tips, stay tuned for Part 2 of How to Choose a Wedding Venue next Thursday!


You pointed out that creating a guest list is important when choosing a venue. My fiance and I just got engaged, so we want to get a head start on planning the wedding. We want to figure out the venue first and plan around that, so perhaps it would be a good idea to compile a guest list so we know how many people we’ll have to fit.

I think that’s a great idea! Having at least a rough estimate is really helpful for choosing the venue and for allowing them to create an accurate quote for you!

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