Congratulations! You said "yes" to your partner and you're in the early stages of wedding planning. But hold on: If you've whittled down your list of dream wedding venues to a few frontrunners and are almost ready to sign on the dotted line, there are a few things you should consider first. Here are 11 important logistical questions you need to be able to answer before you book a wedding venue.
1. Is it big enough to host your entire guest list and accommodate all of the activities you hope to include in your wedding? Think beyond eating and dancing — do you plan to have any entertainment, and is there enough space for it? Is there a good spot for non-dancers to catch up over cocktails?
2. Is the venue available at the time of year you hope to marry? Some spaces are closed during the winter months, so be sure to confirm. Check on certain holidays as well. The last thing you'd want is to fall in love with the place and then not be able to tie the knot there.
3. If you want to have an outdoor wedding, what are your options for keeping guests comfortable in all types of weather? Does the venue have a backup plan in place in case of rain? What if it's scorching hot for your July wedding? Does the venue provide shaded or air-conditioned indoor areas for guest respite? What if it's cold? Is there heating and plenty of cozy indoor space for guests?
4. What does the venue look like at the time of year you plan to marry? You may be visiting venues in the summer months but planning to marry in November...does the venue have the same lighting, charm, and aesthetic in the winter as it does in summer? Ask to see some photos of other events or do your own research online to make sure you know exactly what you're getting.
5. How accommodating is the venue? Can the venue accommodate guests in wheelchairs? What about guests with small children? Find out what the venue's limits are and what exactly you're able to make happen.
6. Can you host your ceremony and reception at the same venue? Find out what spaces are available for everything from your ceremony to your cocktail hour and the reception. How does the venue make the transition work for guests? Will you be able to escape with your partner for a quick bite before the cocktail hour begins? Figure out your options!
7. Can you take photos at the venue? If you're hoping to stage your first look at the venue or just want to snap some bridal party portraits before the ceremony, when and where can you do that? Will you have access to the space before the wedding?
8. How will people get there? Find out if the venue is accessible by public transportation and what your parking options are. If there's nothing nearby, you might want to consider if it's within your budget to rent a bus to transport your guests to the venue.
9. Will other weddings be taking place at the same time as yours? If so, are there enough bathrooms for everyone? Does it get loud? How much will you and your guests have to interact with guests from another wedding? Consider visiting the venue on a night when more than one event is taking place to get a sense of what you can expect if you have to share the space.
10. Where will you and your wedding party get ready before the ceremony? It's important to know whether or not there's an area on-site for all your pre-wedding needs so you can determine if you need to make other plans. Ask if there are any additional fees for a bridal room.
11. How late can the party go on? If you dream of dancing until the wee hours of the morning, make sure the venue doesn't have an early curfew. If the venue has to give you the boot at 10pm, it may not be the place for you. Make sure you know the rules so you can plan everything accordingly.