How To Choose a Wedding Venue: Advice on Finding the Perfect Place To Celebrate Your Big Day

You’re newly engaged and embarking on the journey of planning your dream wedding. Although wedding planning seems exciting, you’re already feeling overwhelmed with the very first step — how to choose a wedding venue.

There are many ways to approach shopping for a wedding venue, from asking for the opinions of others, considering your budget, and picturing how you’ll feel on your big day. 

Consider our advice on how to find a wedding venue that checks all of your boxes and offers both you and your guests the experience you deserve.

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10 Tips for Picking the Perfect Wedding Venue

Choosing the perfect wedding venue can feel like an overwhelming task. 

Not only do you want your venue to reflect you as a couple, but you want it to be an enjoyable experience for your guests, too. And, you want it to fit into your budget. Whether you’re hoping for an elaborate New York City wedding, a wedding in your college town, or maybe a wedding in your hometown, these top tips can help you narrow down the perfect place for your big day.

how to pick a wedding venue

#1: Do Your Research

Research, research, research. 

Following your engagement (or maybe even before!), spend at least 6–8 weeks simply researching different venues in potential places you’d like to be married. Some popular wedding destinations have dozens of venues to offer, so taking the time to sift through all of them is important.

Take New York City, for example. New York City has many luxury hotels and unique venues like The Plaza Hotel or the Museum of Modern Art.

Consider what you want your wedding day to “feel” like, and begin researching venues that might meet your vibe. Then, set times to explore them all to get a true feel. 

Don’t just trust pictures you see online. Often, the photos used on websites are full of special lighting and decor that’s different from what your wedding day might truly look like. Stepping into a venue and imagining what it might look like on your wedding day could be extra helpful.

#2: Consider Your Budget

If you know where in the world you’d like to be married, Google the average cost of a wedding in that area. Use this number to help consider your budget and how much of it you’d like to put towards your venue.

For example, an elegant New York City wedding could run as much as $275,000. For a Saturday wedding in New York City with 200 guests, a top-tier wedding venue could cost between $75,000 in the off-season to $100,000 in peak season, plus a 24% admin fee, additional site fees, and taxes. 

Although most couples spend the largest chunk of their budget on the venue, you don’t have to blow your entire budget on the venue rental. Be sure to learn what renting the venue includes. Oftentimes there’s one price for renting the venue and additional costs for things like:

  • Linens
  • Cake cutting
  • Corkage
  • Dinnerware
  • Drinkware
  • Tables
  • Chairs 

Consider these extra expenses and if they’re included in the venue rental or not. Be sure to double-check and confirm before you book your venue.

#3: Think About Your Theme or Aesthetic

Sometimes it’s hard to ignore what’s most popular, what fits best into your budget, or what everyone else might think is the “right” thing for you to do. 

But your wedding day is a day all about you as a couple. Consider what kind of person you are, what your wedding aesthetic may be, and what you want to best represent your relationship. 

Surprise! This is probably harder than you might think. Most people aren’t sure what they’re looking for before they begin venue shopping. 

Some great timeless theme options include:

  • Boho
  • Rustic
  • Ballroom
  • Country
  • Garden
  • Vintage
  • Art Deco
  • Beach
  • And more

If your theme is black tie and you choose a rustic barn as your venue, they really don’t align. Maybe a black-tie wedding works better in a luxury hotel or unique museum setting. 

Consider your overall vision with decorations and color schemes to help narrow down your search and picture what your day will look like when it comes.

#4: Figure Out Your Vendor Options

If choosing your venue is most important, we’d recommend doing that first. There could be instances where only certain vendors are allowed to work in specific venues or a venue has set vendors they already work with. 

However, sometimes it’s helpful to know what vendors you’d like to work with before choosing your venue. If you’ve been drooling over photos by a great New York City photographer for years and you know that’s who you want to photograph your day, start there. 

Not only are you ensuring you have the specific vendors you want, but they could also give insight into venues that might best suit you. After all, they’ve probably worked in dozens of them before.

#5: Consult a Photographer Before You Book

As someone planning your wedding, you may have a vendor that’s the most important to you. For many, that’s the photographer, because you’ll have your wedding pictures to look back on as memories forever. 

Consult with prospective photographers before you book your venue. They can probably suggest venue options or connect you with other couples who shopped for venues in the area. 

If your photographer is local, there’s a chance they’ve already shot a wedding at your venue location. They likely have a great sense of what might look best where, what venues might look like at different times of the day, and know how to get the best photographs.

Julian Ribinik Photography has photographed many weddings in various NYC venues. If you’re curious about how to find a wedding venue in NYC, Julian and his wife, Evgenia, are seasoned photographers who can provide great recommendations.

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#6: Consider Logistics for Your Guests

Guests are often setting aside time and money to attend your wedding, so making it a comfortable and convenient adventure for them is a considerate gesture.

If you have many out-of-town guests or are having a destination wedding, think about how close the venue and accommodations are to airports and if the area is affordable and safe.

For the venue itself, ask questions that will ensure the comfort of your guests. Often, a room at maximum capacity isn’t comfortable, so ask what the maximum capacity is that a venue can fit comfortably. If a venue is set to hold 300 guests but is more comfortable at 250, lean towards that lower number for a better guest experience.

#7: Have a Firm Idea of Your Guest List

Before starting your hunt for a venue, have a good idea of your guest list number.

Knowing how many guests are likely to attend helps you narrow down the size of the venue you’re shopping for. And, many venues require a deposit based on a guest count.

Remember, you can always add to your list or make cuts based on what you ultimately choose, but knowing who your “must-invite” guests are beforehand is helpful. If more guests RSVP than what your venue can hold, you might be in a tough situation. On the flip side, if only 100 guests RSVP for a venue that holds 300, it might look a little silly. 

Be realistic both about who you have to send invites to and who you truly think will attend.

#8: Think About Hiring a Wedding Planner To Help

We get it, wedding planning is stressful. And choosing a wedding venue tops the list of big decisions to make.

Hiring a wedding planner is a great way to pass off some of the responsibility of wedding planning to someone who does it for a living. They already know how to find a wedding venue and have all the necessary information about vendors, extra costs, how to make a venue your own, and more in their back pockets. And if they don’t, they’ll surely find it for you.

#9: Get To Know Your Coordinator at the Venue

A day-of wedding coordinator is a must-have. Often, venues already have this available for you, so double-check when you’re venue shopping. If not, we’d recommend hiring someone you really enjoy working with because this person can make or break your wedding day experience. 

A wedding coordinator provided by your venue could be a great fit. They know the venue and how it operates, and they’ve helped with weddings in the space before. If your wedding venue doesn’t have an on-site coordinator, hiring one can be a great option. 

But be careful.

Sometimes, wedding coordinators can overpromise and underdeliver, making your experience unpleasant. Do your research and be sure you’re not hiring someone who plans to just take your money and run.

#10: Ultimately, Trust Your Gut

All in all, choosing a wedding venue is a big part of wedding planning. It can easily become stressful and overwhelming to be sure you’re checking all the boxes when choosing a location that works for you as a couple, for your guests, and for your wedding day vision.

Of course, we recommend considering all the logistics of each venue you tour, but ultimately, choosing the place you feel best about will help you feel genuinely excited about your day.

how to choose a wedding venue

FAQs About How To Find a Wedding Venue

How Many Wedding Venues Should You Tour?

Even if you think you’re set on one wedding venue before you’re engaged, it’s always a good idea to at least look at two so you have something to compare your dream venue to. 

Although there is no set number of venues you should tour — some people only need to see one or two while others may need more options — a general rule of thumb is to see between three and five venues before making a choice. 

Realistically, you probably won’t have time to visit many more since securing a wedding venue is one of the first things that need to be done in the wedding planning process. During your initial research, narrow down a list of what you really want in your wedding venue and visit the places that check most of those boxes.

How Soon Should You Start Looking for Your Wedding Venue?

Depending on where you hope to be married and what time of year you’re planning to marry, wedding venues can be booked quickly. Wedding venue research and shopping should probably start as soon as you’re engaged, and definitely by the time you have your date or possible dates. 

If you aren’t set on a date, you may want to work backward and see when the venues you love have availability.

Generally, booking your venue at least a year in advance is a good rule of thumb. However, you may get away with closer to nine months out, depending on when and where you’re planning to be married.

The process of finding a wedding venue isn’t typically a one-stop shop. It will likely take a handful of venues over a few weeks or months to find the right place, so make sure you leave enough time for this process.

Who Should Visit the Wedding Venue?

It’s easy to get caught up in the thrill of wedding planning and want to take anybody and everybody you’re close with along for the ride. Although this might seem like a fun idea, the overwhelming number of opinions can make it difficult to make a choice.

Remember, the engaged couple’s opinion — and maybe the person footing the bill — is all that truly matters. It might be nice to bring your parents, a sibling, or a best friend along, but you should probably steer clear of inviting your entire wedding party to help with venue shopping.

how to find a wedding venue

Julian Ribinik Photography Has Experience With the Top Wedding Venues in New York City and Surrounding Areas

Planning a New York City wedding is exciting. With so many potential venue options and vendors to choose from, you can truly make your NYC wedding day anything you want it to be. 

Julian Ribinik Photography is a professional and knowledgeable New York City wedding photographer who has experience shooting weddings in top wedding venues throughout New York City and surrounding areas. 

Because Julian has photographed many weddings in iconic locations, he can offer insight to his engaged couples on how to choose a wedding venue that fits their ultimate wedding dream.

Contact Julian Ribinik Photography today for more information. 

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Julian Ribinik Wedding Photography

330 E 46th St, New York, NY 10017

(212) 256-1646