How to Find the Perfect Wedding Venue

Booking your wedding venue belongs at the tops of your priority list when you first get engaged. Setting the backdrop for your wedding day, the perfect venue portrays the right ambiance, mood and emotions that you want you and your guests to feel. With this detail in place, you can better visualize the day and get to the rest of the fun stuff, like picking beautiful decorations and flowers that fit well with your venue.

But with so much weighing on this decision, it can easily feel like one of the most pressuring tasks of wedding planning. In this guide, we’ll cover everything you need to think about when deciding on a venue so you can stop stressing and start visualizing your perfect day.

wedding venue

Things to Consider When Searching for Wedding Venues

Before you begin browsing wedding venues, think first about whether you want to keep your ceremony and reception at the same venue or not. There are pros and cons to both options, but, ultimately, it’s what matters most to you both as the couple.

While the reception is where you’ll wow your guests with food and entertainment, the ceremony is the heart of the wedding that holds sentiment to you and your groom. Have an idea of what’s important to you both while considering the following:

Location

Hometown, big city or even a destination wedding, the possibilities are endless. There are no rules on where you decide to have your wedding, but it’s important to take into consideration what is reasonable for you, your families, your guests and your wedding party.

You may have always dreamed of a destination wedding, but will all of your bridesmaids be able to afford such a trip? Is it important to you to get married in the town you grew up in or will planning be easier on you if the wedding is in the city where you and your fiance live now? Again, these factors aren’t deal breakers, but things worth thinking about when choosing your location.

No matter where you decide geographically, think about the logistics for your guests. Check around the area for hotels and consider what transportation needs your guests may have. What is the parking situation like? These details can make or break a venue. While it is your big day, your guests are also going out of their way to celebrate with you. Ensure that they are taken care of.

Number of guests

While you don’t need to have your guest list set in stone right away, you should get a rough idea of how many people you’re going to invite. This number helps determine your venue, because each place is different in terms of capacity. Ask your families to draft a list of who they want to invite so you’ll know what number to look for in a venue.

It’s estimated that about 83% of the guests you invite will attend. Keep that in mind if a venue only holds 200 and you’re inviting about 215, you’ll likely be just fine. Be careful not to underestimate your guest list numbers though; you don’t want your guests to be crammed in a tight reception hall.

Budget

One of the first wedding checks you write will likely go toward the deposit for your venue. Knowing your budget will keep you from getting your hopes up on a place that’s out of your price range.

Decide with your groom how much of the wedding budget you can reasonably put toward this category. A good rule of thumb is to spend no more than 50% of your total wedding budget on the venue, and that’s assuming your food and beverages are all included in that bill.

Favorable setting

Think of what you’ve always dreamed about when picturing your wedding. Do you see yourself – in the most stunning white dress – at a church, on a beach, in a barn or at a winery?

Sit down with your groom and talk about what characteristics or features are important for both of you in your venue. Maybe it’s the ability to have space outside during the reception, or that the place has gorgeous scenery or plenty of room for dancing.

Find what you can compromise on, then create an image of the ideal venue for you. Keep these factors you decided on in mind when you’re on the venue hunt.

What’s included

Some venues are all-inclusive, where you can select a package that provides food, beverages and table decor for a certain number of guests. At other venues, you’ll have to order catering from a separate company or do your own decorating. Many locations have on-site coordinators, otherwise you may need to hire your own wedding planner.

Think about what features will be most helpful to you. Would you rather have the convenience of the venue pulling everything together for you, or would you rather have the freedom to bring in different vendors?

Make sure you have a clear understanding of what’s all included in the price and that everything is stated in the contract.

Choosing your venue doesn’t need to be stressful. Remember to keep that visual in mind of your dream wedding, while balancing in the logistics for your budget and guest-list size. Central Iowa is packed with beautiful places to get married. Start booking tours and let the Iowa backdrop bring your wedding to life.