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ARTICLE: How To Choose Your Wedding Venue

Choosing your wedding venue is one of the biggest decisions you can make when planning your wedding (besides who you're going to be marrying, of course). The venue you choose will set the tone for an unforgettable once-in-a-lifetime event. The right venue will create an atmosphere that reflects your personality and makes your guests feel comfortable and welcome. With so many options available, how do you find the right location?


We collaborated with Colleen Kelly, of Cedarmont Farm in Franklin, TN to give you the best advice when it comes to selecting your wedding venue. Here are our tips to help you pick the ideal venue for your special day.


May 2022 Wedding at Cedarmont Farm | Photo by Lele & Beane

Consider Your Guest Count First


When selecting a venue, it is important to keep in mind your estimated guest count, as this will help you determine what type of space you need for your wedding. If you're expecting a larger crowd, you should look for a larger venue with plenty of room for everyone to move around comfortably. If you’re hosting a smaller gathering, then finding a more intimate space may be ideal.


As a venue owner and wedding planner, Colleen meets with newly engaged couples every day. She suggests that you should only look at venues that will comfortably hold your entire invited guest list. All venues have a maximum capacity number that is a matter of legality (fire marshall code), so it is not recommended to invite more guests than your venue is allowed to accommodate.


Also, while a venue may be able to legally accommodate a certain number of guests, that may require the guests to be split up into different sections of the venue, which Colleen says is not an ideal setup.


Hot tip: Easiest way to find venues that fit within your size requirement? Search online - there are filters on directory sites like The Knot, Wedding Wire, & Here Comes the Guide that will allow you to search venues by maximum capacity.


September 2020 Wedding at Cedarmont Farm | Photo by Ashton Brooke Photography

Consider Your Guests' Overall Experience


Another important factor when selecting your wedding venue is thinking about your guests’ experience. Factors such as parking, accessibility & convenience of travel for out-of-town guests can vary greatly among the venues in your area. For example, if you have elderly guests who may need assistance getting around the premises, make sure the facility is equipped with wheelchair ramps or other accommodations necessary for those with mobility issues.


Additionally, you may also want to consider whether or not there will be guest rooms available at the venue, or at hotels nearby, if some of your guests will be traveling from out of town and need a place to stay overnight after the reception concludes.


You may also be considering having your wedding celebration in two different locations (for example, a church ceremony and a reception elsewhere). This decision will affect what type of venues are available to you, and transportation will also be a factor. If you have a lot of out-of-town guests, they will need to either arrange their own transport between venues, or you will need to arrange group transportation, which would incur additional costs. However, the time in between events could allow for more wedding party photos at venue while guests are relocating from the ceremony location to the reception venue.


September 2020 Wedding at Cedarmont Farm | Photo by Ashton Brooke Photography

Reflect On Your Own Personal Style

You should also reflect on your own personal style and the overall vibe that you want your wedding to have so that you can choose the right space accordingly. Consider what type of atmosphere would best fit the theme or mood that you're going for on your wedding day, and choose accordingly. Each venue has something unique to offer in terms of design elements and ambiance.


If you aren't sure what style you are going for at the beginning, Colleen suggests touring a popular venue in each type first (Urban, Farm, Garden, etc.) Then, you should have a better idea of the type of venue you are drawn to, and can schedule additional tours for more venues within that sub-genre.


It's important not only to tour the venues in person, but you'll also want to review photos of recent weddings that have taken place there to see what is possible with the space available. Make sure to take notes about what you like about each location and document any questions that come up during your search.


When touring venues, imagine yourself getting married at that location. Envision the photos that will be taken around the property. Consider the venue's rain plan, and if you would still be happy getting married there on a less-than-ideal weather day. All of these decisions will help guide you toward selecting the right venue for your wedding.


May 2022 Wedding at Cedarmont Farm | Photo by Lele & Beane

Create an Informed Budget


When searching for a venue, always keep budget in mind. Different venues offer different amenities, rentals, and services that come at varying price points. Decide what services are most important to you (e.g., catering options, décor packages) and prioritize them accordingly so that you know exactly what fits into your budget before making any commitments to a particular site.


Research what each venue offers such as rental & decor items, and if there are any restrictions in terms of the type of decor that can be brought in or the vendors allowed for use. Colleen suggests you ask each venue what the average overall wedding budget is for their clients -- that will give you an idea of whether or not you can achieve your "dream" wedding there within the budget that you are working with.


Some venues also require additional services to be hired, such as security, parking attendants, etc. The rental fee may also only include a certain number of hours, and it would require additional fees to open earlier (for example, for hair & makeup in the bridal suite). Additionally, ask about whether or not sales tax applies, and if there will be any additional services charges on the final bill. Gratuities should also be considered, especially when working with an all-inclusive venue.


May 2022 Wedding at Cedarmont Farm | Photo by Lele & Beane


Conclusion


Choosing a wedding venue is an important decision when planning any wedding – it sets the tone for everything else. Do plenty of research beforehand so that you are prepared for all of the costs involved in bringing your dream wedding to fruition. Visit potential sites in person if possible, and think about how your guests will experience their time there. With these tips in mind, coupled with patience & attention-to-detail during the research & selection process, finding & choosing the perfect wedding venue is sure to be an easy task.

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