11 Mistakes To Avoid When Choosing Your Wedding Venue

Let's get you straight to wedding-venue-booking bliss!

Mistakes To Avoid When Choosing Your Wedding Venue | Newlyweds kiss among a hanging floral installation at Rancho Las Lomas

Rancho Las Lomas | Brogen Jessup

Mistake #1 → Not Getting Organized FIRST!

We know you'd rather jump straight to the site tours, but hear us out. Before you even think about reaching out to venues, do this homework first! Sit down with your fiancé and do your best to nail down your:

Trust us—knowing this information upfront will set you up for venue-hunting success by giving your search some structure! It's a great way to avoid overwhelm since it will naturally narrow down your wedding venue options. It's also super helpful information for the venues to have, so be sure to let them know these things when you inquire.

Mistake #2 → Waiting To Start Your Venue Search

You don't want to fall in love with your dream venue only to find out they're fully booked for the next 12 months, right? Wedding venues (and vendors, for that matter) tend to get booked up to a year in advance or more. So if you truly want your first pick of venue or have a non-negotiable wedding date already set, start your venue search ASAP and schedule those site visits as soon as you can.

Mistake #3 → Underestimating The Big-Picture Price

Hard truth: Venue fees can be confusing. They come in varying structures—from per person pricing and site fees to food & beverage minimums—so it's crucial to get an idea of the "full-picture" price from each venue you're considering. Don't get lured in by a low rental fee, because it's possible to get nickeled and dimed for all the extras! This may include tables, chairs, linens, dinnerware, drinkware, catering, corkage, cake cutting, additional hours, oh my! You could also end up paying more than you expected for things like insurance, security, valet, and cleanup. And don't be surprised to see taxes, gratuities, and service charges applied to the total bill. All these additional charges can really add up, so save yourself a big headache by understanding exactly what's included—and what's not—before you sign any contract.

Mistake #4 → Neglecting Your Non-Negotiables

Before booking a venue, it's important to decide on your wedding day must-haves. For example: If your heart is set on a great-big bash with 200 of your closest friends, can the venue accommodate that guest count? If you're dreaming of dinner and dancing under the stars, do they have an outdoor reception space? Will they allow you to BYO alcohol? Will you have exclusive use of the property, or will there be another wedding happening at the same time as yours? Communicate your must-haves to the venues you're considering right off the bat to see if they're able to accommodate them. Doing this early helps avoid disappointment later!

A covered outdoor reception at Lowndes Grove | How to choose the right wedding venue

Lowndes Grove

Mistake #5 → Not Scheduling A Site Tour

Sure, it's possible to book a venue without actually seeing it in person, but ideally you'll be able to do a walkthrough of the venue before you plunk down that deposit. Rather than just driving by or dropping in, make an appointment to tour the wedding venues you're interested in. You don't want to be an accidental wedding crasher! Having an appointment ensures you'll be treated like royalty, have all your questions answered, and get plenty of time to tour each event space.

Mistake #6 → Not Taking Travel Into Consideration

Guest safety and convenience is of the utmost importance when it comes to choosing your venue! If you have guests arriving by plane, it's certainly helpful if there's an airport nearby. And if your nearest and dearest like to party, try to find a venue with on-site or close-by accommodations—and set up a shuttle service! If you're having a weekday wedding, you'll also want to take commute hours into account—especially if you're getting married in an area that gets bumper-to-bumper traffic.

Mistake #7 → Thinking You Can Do It {ALL} Yourself

If you're a busy person with limited time to plan, consider a venue that offers all-inclusive packages OR hire a wedding planner to help. You don't want to book a blank-slate venue if you don't have the time or budget to bring your vision to life. DIY sounds like a lot of fun, but don't underestimate the added costs, stress, and gray hairs that may come along with it!

Mistake #8 → Assuming Accessibility Or Inclusivity

It's imperative to find out how accommodating and inclusive your venue is right from the start, to ensure everyone in attendance feels comfortable. For example: Is the site accessible for elderly guests and people with disabilities? Is this an LGBTQ+ friendly wedding venue? Are they able to customize their menus for guests with dietary restrictions? Going the extra mile to vet venues upfront will ensure everyone has an equally enjoyable time at your wedding.

Two smiling brides walk down the aisle together after the ceremony | Tips for choosing the right wedding venue

The Brickyard | Rivet Events

Mistake #9 → Overlooking The Restrictions

Venues set rules for a reason, and they don't often make exceptions—so know what they are before you sign on the dotted line. You wouldn't want to book a venue with a strict no-live-music policy if you have your heart set on a band! And if having your dog as the ring bearer is a non-negotiable, you'll need to find a venue that's pet friendly. From using candles and sparklers to hanging décor from the rafters, every venue has their own unique policies that could affect your (fun)ction.

Mistake #10 → Ignoring The Forecast

Mother Nature can put a damper on your big day, especially if you're planning to host part or all of your wedding outdoors. Snow, rain, and even intense heat can come outta nowhere. This is where a contingency plan can save the day—so be sure to ask each venue about theirs. Just keep in mind that a Plan B isn't always free! It may cost a pretty penny to reserve that extra "just in case" event space, those outdoor heat lamps, or that gorgeous sailcloth tent. You want to make sure that if a contingency plan does need to be activated, it won't bust your budget.

Mistake #11 → Not Getting EVERYTHING In Writing

Make sure that everything you've been promised is included in the contract. Of course you'll want to secure your wedding date and lock in the agreed-upon price, but the contract should also spell out exactly what you're purchasing—eliminating any surprise changes to fees or services. No matter what someone told you about the availability of a dance floor, the cost of passed hors d'oeuvres, or the circular ceremony arch, you can't hold the venue to it until the contract is signed.

One more mistake? Not asking enough questions!

Luckily we've got you covered here. Check out our comprehensive list of Questions to Ask a Wedding Venue and our supplemental list that covers venue-specific questions related to COVID-19. The more you know!

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Some clients may have paid to be placed in our editorial and some of these links may be affiliate; however, we never include a venue, vendor, or product unless they have a proper place here. This is part of our Core Values. We create our website first and foremost to be good for the couples using it to plan their Big Day. We won't stray from that for a few advertising dollars. #scoutshonor

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