The First Step in Event Planning: Find the Venue!
The venue is likely to be one the the largest, if not the largest, expenses for most events. Choosing wisely can save you a lot of hassle and money. Here are some helpful tips to help!
The venue’s capacity should be one of the first things you consider. Of course, the venue should be big enough to accommodate all of your guests and staff but it should not be too big, or else it will feel sparse. It’s important to consider the type of event you’re hosting. For example, a small space with lots of doors is not ideal for a public event no matter how cute it is.
The ambiance of a room can really influence the mood. Some venues, no matter how great, are just not meant for certain types of events. Ask yourself, "Will the existing decor inside the venue clash with the theme?" Decorating enhances a theme, but the architecture and overall style of the venue is not always something you can manipulate. It’s always a good idea to do a walk through of the location to ensure you can visualize the event taking place in that venue.
- Does the venue have a kitchen for an outside caterer to use, or does it provide catering in house? If it has in house catering, sometimes a venue will waive the rental fee and only charge a food and beverage minimum (also known as F&B minimum). Sometimes venues without a kitchen may have a partnership with an outside caterer that you’re required to use, so make sure to clarify beforehand. If you are required to use their caterer, always ask for a tasting before signing for the venue.
- Does the facility provide tables, chairs, linens, silverware? This would save you lots of time and money for events like weddings!
- Does it have a setup/clean up crew? You will appreciate this when you don’t have to stay another hour to clean up after tireless hours of making sure everything goes smoothly.
- Does it have audio-visual equipment? Some venues provide AV equipment you can use for a fee, but others will require you to bring that in yourself if necessary for the event.
If it includes all or some of these things, and is still within your budget, great! If these services and amenities aren’t available, be prepared to pay extra for these things and possibly hire a team to help.
Make sure you are clear about what you can and can’t do! For example, some venues will not allow alcohol, certain types of decorations, amplified music, or have time restrictions. Don't forget to ask about the allowed setup time!
If you plan on having your party locally, you should look for a venue within a reasonable distance from your guests’ homes or workplace. If most of the guests are coming from out of town, they will appreciate a location nearby the airport or their hotels. You should also consider the flow of traffic to your venue to make sure make it on time.
Parking: If you have ever attended an event with no parking or inconvenient parking, then you know what a nightmare it is. Make sure to ask the venue whether there is on-site parking. If not, are there parking lots nearby which attendees can use? You can also look into other options such as valet or shuttle buses. You don’t want your guests to be in a bad mood before they even step into your event, so make sure it is accessible!
If you’re looking for a unique venue that is closer to home, check out VRBO and Airbnb, but make sure
Fees! Fees! Fees!
Did I mention fees? After booking a venue, you don’t want to be surprised by hidden fees that will force you to go over the budget. Ask ahead of time what the fee covers and calculate service charge and sales tax. It’s always better to overestimate and have a little wiggle room then to underestimate and worry how you are going to pay for the unexpected expenses.