The venue can be the make or break a special event. One that fits the size, theme, and other criteria is crucial when choosing the venue for your event.
Size VS Guest List
The comfort of your guest should be considered when looking into venue options. Choosing a venue size based on your expected guest count is extremely important. In general, consider 80% of the guests you invite will RSVP "Yes". Along with the "expected guest count" and desired room set up, you can calculate the most efficient square footage for your event.
For theatre seating (ceremony space), each guest should have 7-8 sq. ft.
For banquet seating - plated dinner, each guest should have 12-13 sq. ft.
For banquet seating - buffet style, each guest should have 9-11 sq. ft.
For a dance floor 40% of your expected guest count should have 3 ft. per person
Remember to allow for space for the beverage bar, vendors (e.g. DJ, Photo booth) and additional tables (e.g. Gifts, Guestbook)
Choosing a venue that compliments your theme allows for you to achieve the look and feel you desire. If you are looking for a vintage feel choosing a historic location or mansion will give you guests the sense of being transported back in time. If you are looking for a rustic feel, choosing a ranch or vineyard can help you guests feel a close connection to the land and the surrounding nature. Even with the most theme related decor, a venue that is disjointed from the desired theme can lessen the ambience you are trying to achieve.
Price is an important factor and will impact your venue choice. Using a majority of your budget on the venue can prevent you from securing other vendors or decor/rentals that are important to the success of your event. Having a physical place for your guests to gather means nothing if they have no place to sit or eat/drink. We generally recommend 40% of you budget go towards, the Venue, Catering/Bar, AND Rentals. Note: We will discuss later in this article how the venue price could include catering services.
Another item to consider is some venues may require you to use their in-house or third party vendors. You may want to avoid these venues if you have a certain vendor that is a must have. On the other hand, you may want to consider only these types of venues if you are looking for a one-stop shop location. Always search for reviews on each individual vendor before committing to the venue. Note: Most locations that do not require certain vendors may provide you with a list of "recommended" vendors that are familiar with the location and are trusted by the venue.
As a bonus it may be important to note the different offers or services that the venue may offer on or before your event. Venues that have on-site dressing rooms, salon/spa, or entertaining holding areas may make the day-of less stressful. Furthermore, choosing a location that has on-site accommodations can make it easier on your guests and save on transportation costs.
You should always consider the fine-print of a location and make sure it fits your guest size and budget. Some locations may require a minimum catering purchase. If the location requires a $10,000 minimum, you may need to consider a more expensive meal option if you are expecting a small guest count. Also, be aware that it is standard to include 20% gratuity automatically to all food and beverage services. Most locations may include "standard" china, utensils and chairs. If you are looking for Chiavari chairs or elegant dinnerware, you may want to request additional pricing for upgrades, so you have an accurate full venue price.
One of the most important deciding factors when choosing a venue is the "feeling" you have when touring a location. We would suggest visiting the location during the same time of year or season of your special event, so that you have an idea of how the location will look and feel. It's suggested that you should feel a special connection to the location of you special day so that it makes your day EXTRA special.