How to Decide on a Wedding Venue

Your wedding venue is the foundation for the rest of your big day. Think through these important factors to help you pick the venue that’s best for you and your partner.


10/2/20236 min read

white painted church surrounded by tall trees
white painted church surrounded by tall trees

You’ve started researching wedding venues and have officially realized that it’s nearly impossible to compare one to another. From restaurants to estates to hotels and more, the venue possibilities of endless. Some offer different benefits than others, require more outside vendors, or allow for more personalization. As you start reaching out to venues, you’ll also realize that not only do their offerings differ, but it’s nearly impossible to compare the price from one to another, too.

Part of why it’s so difficult to compare venues is because it’s also one of the most important decisions you’ll make when planning your wedding. Your venue is the canvas that you’ll build everything up from. It affects where you might hold your rehearsal dinner, what the atmosphere will be while getting ready with your wedding party, what the backdrop of your ceremony will look like, and the overall vibe of your big day.

As we planned our own wedding, after much trial and error, we found a simple system that allowed us to feel clear-headed in our decision making. We reviewed our method and simplified it even more so that any bride or groom planning their wedding can leverage what we learned. Download your own free copy of our Venue Comparison Tool and follow along below as we share our biggest tips to selecting a venue that’s aligned with your vision, budget, and logistical needs.

Focus on Logistics


We’re starting off with capacity because it’s a given; you want there to be enough room to hold all the guests you want included on your big day! While you can always make a space feel smaller, legally, you can’t always fit more people than it allows. Have a clear understanding of how many guests you plan to invite to your wedding to help you cross options off from your list. You’ll find that there are endless venue options and accepting that you can’t have all venues because of size is an easy way to narrow down your list.


Not all locations are the same. You may have narrowed down the city you want to hold your wedding in, but different neighborhoods may make the wedding more accessible than others, may cost more, or may be in closer proximity to other venues you may have booked, such as a ceremony church or the hotel where your guests are staying. Location can also influence the cost. If it’s right in the downtown area of your city, it will likely be a higher premium than others, but if it’s next door to your hotel block, you might not need to pay for guest shuttles. Think through how the locations of your options fits into the bigger picture to help you understand how influential the location should be.

Date Availability

We always encourage couples to be flexible with their wedding dates. You could end up finding the perfect venue, but if you’re already “married” to a date (wink), you’ll end up crushed to have to pick one or the other. If the available dates fall within your ideal season, then we consider it a success.

The other important note to make regarding date availability is to ensure it lines up with other date requirements. For example, there may be big festivals going on in the same city around the same time as your prospective wedding. Holding your wedding at that time may make it more difficult to secure rehearsal dinner restaurants or make travel accommodations more expensive for your guests. You want to make sure there aren’t big conflicts with your wedding date. Additionally, the availability of your venue will need to line up with the availability of other required venues. Other venues that could be used for rehearsal dinners or day-after brunches won’t need as much lead time, but it will still be a good idea to start looking at those venues to make sure there aren’t any conflicts.

Focus on Your Vision

Your Style and Vibe

Your wedding venue lays the foundation for the rest of your wedding. Its location, natural beauty, and style will all influence the rest of the look of your big day. If it’s naturally gorgeous, you might not need as many flowers or decoration to create the atmosphere you’re looking for. If its architecture is more old school, you might opt for a classy style for you and the bridal party.

As you’re thinking through your venues, try to visualize what the wedding day will look like at that venue. If there’s anything that doesn’t sit well, talk through it with your partner and see if there’s a way to work around it. If not, it might not be the one, so cross it off your list and move on to the other great options you found!

Your Priorities

This is one of the most influential factors for how you move forward. Before you even started looking at venues, we would bet that you and your partner sat down to discuss what really matters most to you both. If not, this is the perfect time to do so! What are the non-negotiables that you want your day to be filled with. Good food? Open bar? Overall cost? Activities for your guests? Easy for traveling guests? Stunning flowers? We recommend picking three and keeping those priorities central to your planning. (As an aside, this will also help you as you’re picking your other vendors. You’ll know which vendors you’re okay with splurging on and where you can save as some won’t be worth the extra cash because, as you discussed, they’re a lower priority!)

As you go through your venues, keep these in mind and mark off whether the venues you’re looking at will allow for these priorities. If a venue is a great price but doesn’t meet your priorities and you have more budget to work with, you can probably cross it off! But if budget is a top priority and a venue is way over, it’s best to save yourself the stress and move on.

Focus on Your Budget

The main budget categories that you’ll be able to compare at this stage are: food, alcohol, venue, other costs, and hidden fees and taxes. Food, alcohol, and a venue rental cost are often lumped into a package you may get as part of a venue’s offering. This is particularly true if you’re looking at hotels or at restaurants. As you compare, if you find that you’re looking at venues like these as well as other venues that let you build your own wedding, like an estate, it’s a good idea to do some initial research on the costs of catering and rentals. That way, when you compare these venues side by side, you’ll have an accurate picture of what the same categories might actually cost.

There may also be additional and unforeseen costs that come up. Give yourself a bucket simply for other costs so that you can easily keep track of and be prepared for these. Some examples might be additional rentals needed, like heat warmers or dinnerware upgrades. You may also have to file for a permit in your wedding city which could fall into this bucket.

Lastly, many venues automatically will charge additional fees for service or even administrative fees that others might not. Be aware that service fees often cover the cost of tip for staff, but talk with your venue contact about this to confirm so that you’re not underestimating how much you should be setting aside for tips. Service fees and taxes add up, so make sure you’re including these estimates in your overall cost estimate.

When you’re looking at venues, there will be additional questions to ask and information to keep track of. You’ll need to know who your contact there is, when you’re meant to follow up with them, and even why you decide not to move forward so that if the venue comes up again later, you can recall the research you’ve already done. (P.S. We’ve also built a vendor tracker that helps with this as part of our Budget Planning Tool. Check it out in our Etsy shop!)

However, when it comes to actually making the decision about which venue you want to commit to, having a clear comparison of the above factors will help you compare apples to apples and feel confident that the venue chosen is the venue that’s best for you and your partner.

Happy planning!