Booking a wedding venue is often the first task to check off on a long list of planning to dos. In many ways, it's the most important decision of the wedding planning process because it sets the tone for the whole celebration and helps to establish a theme, colour scheme and guest list size. While it can be stressful choosing a venue, it's good to get the biggest decision over with soon after you become engaged so you can enjoy the rest of the planning journey.
If you live in Canada, there are endless options for every wedding theme and size. Start by checking out our list of top venues and, once you find a few favourites in your area, start scheduling appointments to go see the spaces in person.
Think you've already found the venue of your dreams? Here are five crucial questions to ask yourself before you sign a contract:
1. What's the capacity? This is perhaps the most important question to consider when venue shopping. If you're envisioning a large wedding, then a small, intimate restaurant venue probably isn't for you. Even though you might not know your exact guest list, you'll want to leave some wiggle room for plus-ones, and people you may have forgotten. The capacity of a space sets the tone for the entire event, so you'll want to make sure you choose a venue that isn't too big or too small for the number of guests you're inviting.
2. What's the vibe of this space? Is it upscale? Modern? Rustic? Cozy? Pay attention to the feelings you get when you enter the space for the first time, because this is how your guests will feel when they walk into your wedding. If you want your guests to feel comfortable and at home, then maybe a rustic lodge setting would be best. On the other hand, if you want your guests to be dazzled and wowed by the opulence of your celebration, then maybe an ultra-upscale hotel wedding is for you. Whatever the vibe you're going for, make sure the venue you choose mirrors the intention.
3. Is this within my budget? If you've already set out a clear budget for your wedding, and the venue accounts for over 50 percent of it, then it could be out of your range. When you set out a budget, make sure you figure out how much of it you're willing to spend on a venue, and how much of it you want to set aside for other things like flowers, a dress, etc. If the venue is the most important aspect of your wedding for you and your groom, then it could be worth the splurge--but the key is to make sure you know this from the get-go.
4. What does the wedding package include? Before you book a venue, you'll want to sit down with the property's wedding coordinator and make detailed notes about everything a standard package includes, so you can decide what you need and what you don't. Are the catering and staff included? Are there extra fees for cake-cutting, corkage and clean-up? Make sure you're clear about exactly what you're paying for.
5. How will guests get there? One thing you definitely want to consider before booking a venue is transportation options for your guests. If the venue is two hours out of town, will you provide some sort of shuttle service for your friends and family? And where will they sleep when the night is finished? These are all important things to consider because you don't want to leave any of your guests stranded at the end of the night!
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