On the Hunt for the Perfect Wedding Venue

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Modern weddings are all about personalization, so what sweeter way to set the mood than by finding a venue that epitomizes your style? From classic cathedrals to a treehouse in the woods, just about anything goes today when it comes to wedding venues. As the backdrop to your special day though, you want a location that clicks instead of clashes with your style.

“The venue is the most important decision couples make,” says Claire Weller, wedding planner with Big City Brides, a Chicago-based planner. “It sets in motion the look, the budget, everything that they can accomplish.”


The first step: know your vision. Some venues, like hotel ballrooms or urban lofts, are essentially blank canvases that can be transformed to match any theme. But many come with their own style and ambiance that can enhance your wedding’s overall look.

If you want an event inspired by the glamour of the 1920s, for example, you might go for a historic theatre with its ornately painted ceilings. Couples looking for outdoor spaces with beautiful greenery should check out local botanical gardens.

Libraries are another surprising option that work well for a number of themes. “Libraries make great locations for weddings,” says Susan Cordogan, owner of Big City Brides. “Whether it’s taking the angle of a love story or maybe the couple is into reading and books. You can tie into someone being a teacher or maybe they’re both teachers. You also could play on the whole idea of a fairytale or nostalgia of a book.”


With so many different kinds of venues available, it’s easy to get overwhelmed, which makes it challenging to know where to start. That’s where a wedding planner comes in handy. Armed with years of experience and insider knowledge, wedding planners are masters at finding a venue that fits your vision and budget.

“Planners have a large network of venues and good knowledge of the area. Having a professional help in the search can broaden the potential options,” says Nora Sheils, owner of Bridal Bliss, a Portland, Oregon-based wedding planner.

By investing in an expert planner, you can save yourself a lot of headaches and dead-end searches. Plus, they might be able to show you venues that you can’t find with Google.


No matter what kind of space matches your taste, there are a few questions you always should ask.

First, does the venue have all of the basic necessities? That means things like water, power, air conditioning/heat and bathrooms. Sometimes older venues or outdoor locations don’t have these amenities and it can be a major hassle (not to mention cost) to bring them in.

Another major consideration: how many guests can the space accommodate?

“If a venue is too small, guests can become easily frustrated by excessive body heat, lines at the bathrooms and bars,” says Lori Stephenson, owner of Chciago-based LOLA Event Productions. “If a venue is too large, your party will feel dwarfed and the intimacy you are hoping for with a smaller event can easily be destroyed.”

Other questions you should definitely ask:

• What’s included in the price? Can they provide things like chairs, tables, linens and glassware or will you need to rent those?

• Does the venue require you to select vendors from their “preferred vendors” list or can you select your own vendors?

• Is there a food and beverage minimum? Is tax and gratuity included? It’s important to note that this number is the minimum, not the total you’re going to spend.

• What is the parking or transportation situation? Does the venue require a valet?

• Are there any permits you need to acquire to hold a your event? Is there a noise ordinance?

• Does the venue have any rules, like what décor is allowed?

• What time can your event begin? What time does is need to be over?

• If it’s an outdoor location, what is the weather like that time of year? What is the backup plan if it’s too hot/cold/windy/rainy?

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