So many venues, so little time. Choosing a venue for your wedding ranks high on the list of decisions that must be made early in the planning process. Venues book quickly and often a year in advance, and many other decisions cannot be made until an event location has been established. Studio Jay has had the pleasure of being a part of weddings at dozens of locations throughout central Oregon. We often get asked about wedding venues and our opinions of such. I've compiled a list of a few things to consider when vetting a venue.
1. Will this venue accommodate/fit the number of guests we are planning for? Most venues have a maximum capacity or recommendation. If you're hoping for a party of 200 don't try to squeeze into a venue that comfortably seats 150. The flip side is that if your dream is an intimate affair with 30 of your closest friends, find a smaller, cozier wedding space.
2. Does this venue fit my budget? The cost of event venues in central Oregon range from zero (grandma's backyard) to $50 to reserve a city park area, to $20,000 for the private upscale destination resort. Be realistic and tour venues that really are within your range. That said, often you can be flexible with your date or season and discover a discounted rate at a more expensive venue. What you spend on your venue, like every other decision, is based on your priorities. I met one couple who spent 90% of their wedding budget on their venue because they absolutely wanted to be married at a certain location and agreed to cut costs with food, flowers, and photos.
3. Does the venue fit my style? Perhaps you envision your perfect day in the park, a forest, a vineyard, or perhaps by the lake or a waterfall. Maybe your dream wedding takes place in a barn, a rustic lodge, or that modern amazing country club. Tour venues and find the one that fits your 'feel'.
4. Consider the logistics. Will grandma and your guests be able and willing to hike to that waterfall wedding? Studio Jay was DJ at a beautiful country affair this summer in a cool barn in the middle of thousands of acres of wheat fields 100 miles from the nearest airport. The guests found their way, partied & danced into the night, and it was magical. But that wouldn't work for everyone.
5. What are the venue's rules regarding food and drink? Would you be allowed to have Uncle Bob bring his secret recipe BBQ or hire your favorite food cart, or would you be obligated to purchase food from the venue's restaurant? Can you employ your favorite brewery and bartender or must you use the venue's bar?
6. Is the venue host/owner/coordinator personable and helpful? Remember, you and your vendors will be working together to bring the venue to life and make it reflect your vision.
7. What amenities can I expect for the price I'm paying for the venue? You will need tables & chairs, linens, lighting, and a dance floor. Ask which of these are included in the venue fee. Also consider the ambiance and if you will need lots of flowers and decorations. Or perhaps those can be minimal because of the natural beauty of the location.
8. If your dream is an outdoor wedding, is there a Plan B for inclement weather? We're so fortunate to live in central Oregon because most days are sunshine and blue skies. There is wind at times, however, and cool nights and occasional summer afternoon rain showers. An available canopy, barn, lodge, any type of shelter is always a good idea.
After you've come up with a few venues you're interested in, call and make appointments to tour them and meet the venue hosts. Ask questions. Agree on the venue because, of course, the wedding is for BOTH the bride and groom. Love the venue, love the process, love the day.