Congratulations! You’re engaged and ready to plan your wedding. Choosing a wedding venue is one of the most important parts of the planning process, and one of the first choices you’ll make when planning your big day. The venue you choose can inform lots of other aspects for your wedding, from the décor to the attire and from the food to the other vendors. The venue also has a big effect on your overall budget. Your venue will set the tone and atmosphere of your whole event, so it’s important to find the right one. We created a wedding reception venue guide to give you lots of tips on choosing a venue. Use the guide to find the right venue for your wedding.
When should you start looking for wedding venues? The answer might be a lot earlier than you think. It’s important to note that many wedding and reception venues are booked 12-18 months in advance, especially the more popular and exclusive spaces, so you may want to start your search at least a year ahead of time.
Keep in mind that the process of researching, touring and booking a venue also takes time, so the earlier you can start, the better. It’s ideal to give yourself a month or two just to research and put together a shortlist of venues. Starting your venue search early means you’ll have the best chance at booking one of your favorites.
When you’re ready to start looking around for the perfect wedding venue, there are a number of important considerations to take into account. Here are some tips for choosing a wedding reception venue and what to look for in a wedding reception venue:
Arguably the most important aspect of wedding planning, your budget will determine what choices will work in your overall plan. Before you even start looking, make sure you have a clear idea of your total budget for the whole event. On average, you can expect up to 40% of your budget to go towards the cost of venue and catering. This percentage can be proportionally higher if the venue has packages that include other items, like food and drink. The fees to rent a venue can vary widely, so know what you can afford to spend first before you start to look around.
Do you and your partner have your hearts set on one particular date that’s special to you, or do you have some flexibility when it comes to the date? Being able to bend a bit on the date can make a big difference when you’re looking at wedding venues.
Many venues fill up far in advance. If you are tied to one date, you might find that it’s difficult to book your preferred venues. Starting your search with a more vague timeline idea, like “sometime next fall,” means you can more easily find a date that works at the venue you want.
Put together a list of dates that would work for you, as well as any dates that definitely won’t work.
It might also be worthwhile to choose a less popular day for your wedding. Saturdays are the most common for wedding days, but some venues offer discounts to weddings on other days of the week. Booking a Friday evening or Sunday afternoon wedding might mean that you get your venue of choice and save money while doing so.
Consider whether you want to have your wedding and reception at the same venue, or if you will want to find two separate venues. Having both at one venue is convenient for you, your guests and your vendors — and possibly more budget-friendly too.
Some couples want a wedding at a religious venue or smaller location, with a larger, separate location for the reception. If you want the all-in-one approach, look for venues that can accommodate this. If you need a reception venue separate from the ceremony location, consider the distance between the two and how guests will travel from the wedding venue to your reception venue.
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From the classic to the Bohemian and everything in between, your personal style will inform the style of your wedding, and you’ll want a venue that fits in with your vision and tastes.
Ask yourself what you want your wedding to look like and what kind of vibe you’re hoping to create. A few questions to ask include:
It’s a good idea to go into your search knowing what type of venue would best fit in with your personal style.
You’ll want to have a good idea of your total guest list headcount before you start searching around for venues, so that you can choose one that’s an appropriate size. You can’t squeeze 200 people into a venue with a maximum capacity of 60. If you plan on having a small wedding, and if your venue can hold hundreds, it can look bare or empty. You might end up spending more to make things look more intimate.
Have a realistic number of guests in mind, so you’re sure to find just the right space for you.
With your wedding venue checklist in hand, take notes on all of your preferences and the specifics that you need from a venue. You want to keep all the information handy so that you can compare each available venue.
You can start your research online and make a list of potential venues. Once you’ve found a few that you like, call each one to schedule a tour and get some basic facts.
Visiting venues in person gives you the chance to get a good feel each one. Touring venues also gives you the opportunity to ask lots of questions. Here’s what you should ask during your tours, or when calling for more information:
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Asking all of these questions during your tour of the reception venue will give you a good idea of what your wedding will look like in the space, and if the location is a good fit for you. Write down the answers to these questions, especially if you are touring more than one venue. That way you can easily compare the venue choices and make the right decision. Don’t be afraid to listen to your gut when touring a site. It’s likely that you’ll just know when you’ve found the right venue for your wedding.
If you are searching for a good wedding venue in Harrisburg or anywhere in Central PA, check out the beautiful options at Colonial Golf & Tennis Club — we could be a perfect match! Our club has it all to make your day extra special. Our spaces are versatile enough to host any type of wedding — big or small. Choose from outdoor or indoor spaces for your special day, and don’t worry about making rain plans. Because we only book one wedding per day, your outdoor wedding can easily be moved indoors in case of rain.
At Colonial Golf & Tennis Club, you don’t have to be members to be able to reserve our event spaces. We welcome everyone to our gorgeous venue and will attend to every detail of your wedding plan. Our experienced staff will see that nothing is overlooked! We have several different and affordable wedding packages to fit any style and budget. Contact us today to learn more and set up an appointment for a visit or for a complimentary wedding tasting.