I hope you are reading this before you book your wedding venue!
A few weeks ago, I shared a list of my favorite wedding venues in Michigan (as a Detroit wedding photographer!). Today, I’m going to help you CHOOSE which of those incredible wedding venues is right for you. After all, booking your venue is one of the first real wedding planning moves you’ll make. After you’ve done that, you’ve officially saved the date! Because this is one of the first decisions you’ll make, and because this decision really does play a role in all future wedding planning decisions, I wanted to expand on the list with a few tips when it comes to choosing the right wedding venue for you.
I know this decision usually has to be made quickly, venues are still booking up quickly, but it shouldn’t be rushed.
In case we haven’t met yet, I want to say a quick welcome! I’m Brittany, the woman behind the lens here at Brittany Allen Photography. You can learn more about me and my family here, but if you are looking for a wedding photographer, I hope you’ll learn more about working with me here. When you are ready, you can connect with me here or follow me on Instagram. I’m only a few clicks away!
Are you just starting your wedding planning journey? Make sure to check out this post with the first 7 steps to planning a Detroit wedding in 2023.
Before You Start Looking to Book Your Wedding Venue
I’m going to share what I think you should look at WHEN looking at wedding venues, but I want to talk a little bit about what needs to happen before you even book a wedding venue tour. There are a lot of stunning wedding venues and excellent venue coordinators out there that specialize in getting you excited to book. It’s easy to get caught up in the moment. Don’t get me wrong, I want that excitement for you. I just don’t want you to accidentally make the “wrong” decision because you’ve fallen in love with a specific backdrop and the venue is saying “book now”.
Before you start looking at wedding venues, you need to know an approximate budget (more on that next) and guest count. You don’t want to book a venue that doesn’t fit your larger-than-life family and end up cutting more people than you want to. You also don’t want to look at ballrooms that can fit 500 people, because they can also make your wedding guest list of 75 people feel underwhelming. You don’t want all that extra space to decorate, do you?
I know you might think you have a number in your head, but I really want to encourage you to talk to your partner and start to put names down on paper. You don’t need a final list yet, but you should have a pretty good idea!
Setting your Wedding Venue Budget before you Book Your Wedding Venue
One of the reasons I always encourage couples to work with wedding planners is that there are so many nuances when it comes to a wedding budget. I’m going to share a few things to consider here, instead of trying to give you a blanket number as The Knot would. I want this to be helpful for you! I don’t think telling everyone they should spend 30% on their wedding venue whether their budget is $20,000 or $200,000 is very helpful (or accurate).
The Amount You Spend When You Book Your Wedding Venue Should Reflect Your Priorities
I know this might not be mindblowing, but it’s true. When you are choosing your number, remember that wedding venues often can’t be compared “apples to apples”. Below, I’m going to share a few examples of why you should ignore the elusive “30%” rule!
- You may find a wedding venue that has a fee of 40%, but includes upgraded chairs, linens, and lighting (to name a few). You might not consider the venue because it seems more expensive, only to find you are paying the same (or more) anyway just because it sits on a different line on your wedding budget.
- You may find a “cheap” wedding venue that sits around 15% of your wedding budget, but it’s bare. You’re going to spend more money on florals and rentals trying to beautify the space when you could have spent a bit more on a wedding venue you already love.
- You may find a wedding venue that has a fee of less than 30% but requires you to book from their preferred vendor list (which can force you to spend more on areas that aren’t as big of a priority for you)
You should have a good idea of what you want your overall wedding budget to be, but don’t be tied to a certain number when you go to book your wedding venue. Know what you want, and be flexible on how to get there!
Questions to Ask Before You Book Your Wedding Venue
I hope this has given you just a few extra things to think about before you book your wedding venue in 2023. Before I leave you, I want to share a few extra questions you should ask as you start booking tours (beyond “how many guests can fit” and “how much”)! Remember, this process should be fun!
- What is the planning process like with the venue coordinator? What can you expect?
- Are there timeline restrictions or curfews? Both for the wedding day and set up/take down?
- What are the backup locations like (if looking at an outside wedding venue)?
- Do you have a list of preferred vendors? How do they get on that list?
- Is there a food/beverage minimum?
- Are there decor restrictions such as candles, confetti, etc?
- What’s the parking situation?
- How many weddings are hosted per day/weekend? Can I choose different locations for my wedding ceremony, cocktail hour, and wedding venue?
- Do I need to book a minimum number of rooms (if at a hotel wedding venue)? Is there a wedding suite for getting ready?
- What photo locations are most popular? Your photographer will help, but it’s worth asking where couples usually have their first look, family portraits, wedding portraits, etc to make sure you love the space! Are the locations nearby? It’s okay if you can’t/don’t want to take your wedding photos at the venue, but the closer they are the less of your precious wedding day is spent traveling between locations!
Ready to Book Your Wedding Venue?
As soon as you do, I would love to hear from you and celebrate with you! If you are looking for a Detroit wedding photographer, I would love to connect and learn more about your wedding day vision. Reach out here, and let’s set up a time to oooh and ahh over your love story appropriately! Until next time, you can find some of my best wedding planning tips on the blog, and photos of my favorite wedding day in my portfolio.
Don’t forget! I’ve rounded up a few of my favorite Detroit wedding venues here to get you started before you book your wedding venue!