How To Choose A Wedding Venue | Raelyn Ramey Photography

Are you having a hard time finding the perfect venue that fits your dream? Don’t know where to even start? Let me help you!

Finding the right wedding venue takes a lot of time and research and can often be one of the hardest parts of planning a wedding. You need to make sure that your venue ticks all the right boxes before you make a final decision. 

Your venue will influence your budget as well as the atmosphere on the day so before you sign on the dotted line, below are 8 important things to consider before you decide on your wedding venue. 

  1. Venue size. Look at how many people you’re planning to invite to your wedding versus the number of people the venue can comfortably cater for. A crowded reception can be quite uncomfortable and if a venue is too large, it can affect the atmosphere and the overall look and feel. Put an initial guest list together before you start venue shopping so that you can make a better decision. 

  2. Style. Take time to think about what kinds of things connect with you and your partner’s style. Are you outdoorsy people? Imagining having a big glamours party? Think of all those little details that make up your perfect night. How about a bunch of hanging plants? Or maybe a beautiful old barn? A place filled with antiques? Or hey… that sweet old factory could make for a unique experience. Finding a venue that fits your style is going to be key in helping to eliminate all the ones that don’t.


3. Location. How far will your guests have to travel? Can they stay over night? Can the space cater to both ceremony and reception? Is there a backup plan if it rains? These are all great questions to consider. Imagine being able to rent your spot for the weekend, hang with your loved ones all in the same area and not have to worry about so and so driving home late. Having a backup plan in case it rains helps cut the cost of having to rent a party tent. Having an indoor space also helps keep the food away from outdoor elements. Don’t be afraid of reaching out to a friend, or relative to have a backyard wedding or even inside their beautiful victorian home, air bnbs…even a nearby park. Many times these can be considerably cheaper and have all the intimate, beautiful elements already there.


4. Lighting. So this one is a HUGE one for your photographers. Often people will have this dream inside their head about all these beautiful images but then choose a venue that is SUPER dark. Natural light is a MUST if you want great photos. Sure, it doesn’t have to be all bright white, but natural light is still key for moodier shots. I always offer my client’s a hand in this. You can easily take some cell phone pictures to send to your photographer - or have them meet you there! Communication is always key!


5. Outdoors. Even if your wedding isn’t outdoors, it’s so nice to have some sort of beautiful backdrop for family photos, couples, or wedding party photos. There are so many new venues popping up and it amazes me how many lack in this department. It’s a drag if you don’t plan on having a shuttle anywhere because your ceremony and reception are at the same spot.


6. What about the drinks? Alcohol and drinks are a big part of your wedding so it’s important to find out whether you can bring your own alcohol and what the costs are or if the venue will supply the drinks. Since you will also need a licensed bartender to serve alcohol, find out whether the venue can assist with this so that you can factor those costs into your final budget. 

7. All the extras. Let’s face it, weddings can be extremely stressful because there is ( we think there is) so much that can go into them. So many vendors and props to find. Finding a venue that offers to do most the work for you could be exactly what you want. They have the caterer, the drinks, the linens, the tables, the tents, you name it. OH lets not forget having a set up and tear down option. Who wants to clean up after the party or eh, come back the next day to worry about it?


8. Preferred vendors. You’re going to be working with several different vendors in the time leading up to and on your wedding day. Many venues require you to use their vendors so find out about this before you make a booking. If they do work with specific vendors, make sure that you’re happy with their experience, style, personality, and pricing. When a venue works with preferred vendors, it does mean they’re confident in their experience and ability to delivery but it’s more important for you to choose vendors that fit in with your budget and overall preferences. I highly recommend considering a photographer that connects with you personally and professionally. You don’t want someone you don’t connect with in charge of capturing all those special moments.

9. Personal Favorites. My personal favorite venues that are worth checking out are: The Rose Garden/ Des Moines Art Center, Keller Brick Barn, Iowa Taproom, Embassy Club, The Diamond Room, AA Barn, Evergreen Lake House, Ann Smeltzer House, ultimately any BACKYARD WEDDINGS.