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Tips Finding Your Dream Wedding Venue

September 15, 2022

I’m Liz
As a former ICU nurse, I know what it’s like to be in high-stress situations. In fact, it’s where I thrive. I would love to bring my calm to the natural chaos that comes with planning your wedding. 
About Me

Are you getting ready to tour venues for your big day? We’re sharing our top ten tips to help you find your dream wedding venue!

Milwaukee Art Museum Wedding set up for a wedding reception.

When you get engaged the second vendor you will want to book (after your wedding planner) is your venue. Booking a venue plays a crucial part in designing the rest of your wedding and brings your overall vision together. This is definitely one step of the planning process where you want to take your time and choose a venue that is 100 percent you!

  • The absolute first thing you will want to do is talk to your planner so you can work together to determine the budget for your wedding venue. For venue and catering you should be spending around 40-50% of your total wedding budget.

  • The next step your guest list. The number of guests you plan to have will limit which venues will be available for your wedding. Most venue’s list their capacities on their website. We recommend creating two guest lists. The first list should be narrow, including only the people that you must have there and cannot live without. The second list will be more broad with people that you’re unsure if you want to invite.

  • Location. Location. Location. Picking a state or county where you want to have your wedding is one way to narrow down your search. When thinking about location there are a few key factors to keep in mind:
    • Is there parking available for guests? or Will guests have to pay for parking?
    • Is there somewhere close by to take pictures?
    • Are there hotel accommodations close by?

  • Determine out your wedding style! You will want to think about this before looking into venues. The wedding venue you choose will set the overall tone for your wedding.
    • Do you want a rustic, luxury, romantic or themed wedding? If you want a black tie wedding a barn may not be the best venue choice for you.
    • Do you like dark and moody or light and airy? If you want light and airy wedding photos you will want to make sure your venue has lots of windows for the sun to shine in.

  • What time you are allowed to access the venue?
    • If you plan to have your ceremony and wedding at the same place, does the venue have a room for you and your bridal party to get ready?
      • Will you be able to access the venue early enough to accommodate getting hair and makeup done?
      • If not you will have to get ready at an alternative location, like a hotel or salon. If you choose to book a venue with a gorgeous space to get ready, but cannot enter until 10:00AM, be prepared to have your hair and makeup artist bring a team with them.
    • You will also want to know when you are able to enter the venue for decorating. Can you go the day before the wedding or only 10:00AM the day of? If you can only access the venue at 10:00AM the day of the wedding you will need to hire someone to manage your wedding day, help you set up the décor and make sure vendors arrive on time.
    • You will also want to know when you have to have the venue cleaned up. Are you able to clean up the next day or do you have to have everything out by midnight? If you need to be out by midnight, you may need to hire someone to help clean up at the end of your celebration, so that you can enjoy the rest of your night and not worry about cleaning up.
    • Lastly, when will you be able to have a rehearsal?

  • What does the base price of your venue include?
    • Do they provide tables and chairs? Or do you have to rent them?
    • Do they have an onsite venue coordinator to help set up décor, flip the room and take down décor? Are there added costs?? If the venue provides a coordinator, you will want to know exactly what they do and do not do.
    • Do they have décor that you can use, or is that an additional fee? Do you envision an outdoor wedding? Is there a space for that? Do they provide a backup plan if the weather is bad?

  • Does your venue come with an in house caterer? Some venues will come with a caterer you have to use. But if you wanted to choose your caterer this could create an issue. You will want to look into a few things about catering.
    • If there is an in house caterer, what are your options (family style, plated or buffet)? What are the prices per person? Do they have a minimum you have to spend on food? Are you able to schedule a tasting?
    • If you want an outside caterer, does the venue have preferred vendors you have to work with? Do they need to carry insurance?

  • Does your venue have a liquor license?
    • If they do, you will want to check and see if they have a minimum that needs to be spent. Do they charge per person or the total amount your guests drink? Do they charge per bartender? If so, how many will they require for your guest count?
    • If you have to bring in a bartender you will want to know what the requirements are for them. Is there a bar area for them to use? What insurance and licensing requirements are needed? Can you buy alcohol and have a friend bartend?

  • Hidden fees. What fees are going to be added to your final bill?
    • Is there a large service fee? Some venues add a 20% overall service fee to the final bill which can be thousands of dollars you didn’t budget for.
    • Do they include gratuity on the final bill?
    • Do they charge an hourly rate if you want to get into the venue or early?
    • Do they charge extra to have a ceremony on location?

  • Read reviews! The best way to learn more information about a venue and another couple’s experience is from reading reviews!

Following these tips can help you find your dream wedding venue! At Dream Weddings we strive to help you find the venue that will check off all the boxes. We understand that choosing a venue may be one of the most difficult decisions you make during your planning process, but we are here for you. We want to be your third wheel throughout the whole planning process and make your dream wedding a reality!

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