Finding your wedding venue can be a daunting task. I always tell my clients that it’s the most difficult part of the entire planning process. Why? Because the venue choice will determine the date and style of your wedding. It also takes up the biggest portion of your overall budget. Here are 5 steps that will lead you to finding the perfect location for your dream wedding.
1. Establish the style
There is an abundance of beautiful wedding venues in and around Montreal – how lucky are we! The flip side is that the choices seem endless. Before scheduling site visits at hundreds of venues and feeling even more overwhelmed, the first step is to jot down 3 words that describe the style of your wedding. This will help you stay focused and narrow the search to 3-5 venues. Here are a few examples:
Choosing a venue that fits your style will save you money in the long run because you won’t have to change the vibe of the space. For example, if you choose a rustic venue but want a classic look, you’ll end up paying more for decor to transform the venue with draping as well as elegant linens and chairs. If you book a very modern space but want a garden-style wedding, you’ll have to spend a whole lot on florals to achieve that theme.
2. Set your guest list
A contender for the position of most daunting wedding planning task is setting your guest list. As uncomfortable as it is to determine who will be invited to celebrate the most special day of your life – and who will not make the cut, it’s a crucial step to take before you select a venue.
Couples often underestimate how many guests they will actually end up inviting to the wedding. By setting your guest list from the get-go, you will avoid disappointment and upset down the road. In other words, there is no need to visit and fall in love with a space that only seats 100 people if your list is at 150 guests.
Venue: Espace Canal – Photos: Lisa Renault Photographie
3. Determine your budget
Before visiting venues, I recommend establishing an overall budget for your wedding. The venue, including rental fee, catering and bar service, will take up anywhere from 45 – 55% of your overall wedding budget.
Some venues charge a rental fee, others charge per head. Some do both. Ideally, you should contact venues that you have in mind to get a sense of the costs before visiting. Maybe you’ve seen wedding photos on Instagram of a stunning space, only to find out that the rental fee alone is 50% of your overall budget. It’s best to find out sooner rather than later so that you can find a space that’s just as lovely but won’t break the bank.
Oftentimes, the price points are not listed on the venue’s website but the events team can send you information on their packages before you schedule a visit. Having an Google Sheet or Excel document to compare costs from each venue will help you remain objective and organized!
4. Consider the guest experience
In order for your guests to have a great time, being thoughtful about their overall experience is crucial! The first consideration is parking/transport; you’ll want to keep it simple for everyone. If the venue will be in a remote location, you may opt to rent shuttles that can transport guests so that they can get to and from the wedding safely. Is the space is in the heart of downtown? Find out if your venue provides a valet service to avoid parking frustrations (we all know how difficult it can be to find parking in the city!).
Another factor to consider within the guest experience is capacity. While some venues have a maximum capacity, I always make sure to know what the capacity is for the most comfortable layout so that guests don’t feel crammed.
If you’re planning on having an outdoor component to your wedding, be sure to ask the venue what the contingency plan is for inclement weather. You don’t want to force your guests to stand outside in the pouring rain because there isn’t any space for the ceremony indoors.
5. Trust your instincts
As a wedding planner, I’ve visited so many spaces with my clients. I always say that it’s like shopping for a house: you need to consider the style, size, cost and layout. One important factor, though, is how you feel when you first walk in the house.
The same goes for the venue. Can you picture yourself getting married there? Does it bring a smile to your face or are you instantly overwhelmed by the notion of the room having to be flipped mid-wedding? Trust your gut feeling!
On that note
If you are finding it difficult to select a venue, don’t be shy to seek the advice of a wedding planner! At le wedding mill, we offer consultation services for couples who need a little extra assistance with choosing their dream venue.