AUTHENTICALLY WED: Choosing a wedding venue / by Kelly Golia

It seems like just about everyone is getting engaged lately (yay!) and one of the top questions I've been getting from friends and clients alike is how to choose a wedding venue. It's without a doubt one of the most exciting, yet most overwhelming parts of wedding planning! After all, your venue will set the stage for your entire wedding, and it's so important that it's a reflection of you. I totally get it - there are hundreds (thousands, even!) of venues available out there, so to help break it down for you, I'm sharing my top tips for choosing your perfect venue.

The Bedford Village Inn. Photo by Emily Tebbetts Photography.

The Bedford Village Inn. Photo by Emily Tebbetts Photography.


1. Be prepared. Before even searching for venues, it's 100% worth it to take the time to educate yourself on what goes into venue cost. Ask your married friends what fees they were surprised by or what their venue required. Venues costs are typically broken down by ceremony fees, reception fees, and catering costs, but keep an eye out for additional expenses such as service fees, gratuity, etc. Having a sense of all of these numbers beforehand will give you a better idea of where your money is going, and will help you compare venues more easily.

2. Location, location, location. For some people, this is easy. For others, choosing your venue location can be the hardest part. There are three groups of people you'll likely need to consider when it comes to location: the bride's family, the groom's family, and most importantly, the bride and groom. It's easy to get caught up in trying to find a location that's most convenient for all of your guests, but try not to lose sight of the fact that this is your wedding. Besides, no matter where you choose, there are going to be guests that can't or won't attend either way. Choose a venue location that's most meaningful to you and your fiance, and I promise you'll be happy with your decision.

3. Know your stuff. Before even stepping foot into a venue, there are two wedding-related decisions you should have already made: guest count and date. Now of course, you're not going to know your exact number of guests, but be sure to talk to both families to make sure that everyone is included on your list. And unless you have a very specific date in mind (a dating anniversary or other special day), it's perfectly fine to not know your wedding date. More often than not, the date is determined by the venue's availability anyway! Having a rough idea of guest count and timeline will help you narrow down venues, and having a sense of your budget will break it down even more.

4. Keep an open mind. You may have your heart set on a barn wedding or a ceremony on the beach, but my best advice is to not limit yourself. Visit the venues that align with your vision, of course, but set aside some time to visit a venue or two outside of what you think you want. At the very least, it will solidify your decision. It could also open you up to your perfect venue, that you might not have considered otherwise! When Anthony and I first visited our wedding venue, we almost ruled it out because didn't think it was "us". After looking at other venues, though, we realized how perfect ours was and it ended up being the best decision we made!

5. Your venue is what you make it. Consider the space a starting point, but always remember that with some creative thinking, you can transform any space into the venue of your dreams. Some of my favorite venues are blank spaces, because it allows for the most transformation into exactly what the bride and groom have envisioned for their big day. There's always room for creativity - a family member's backyard, an empty warehouse space, a canvas tent, etc. can all be wonderful options, and can save you money, too!

6. Consider the details. Every venue is different and offers different things. Some come with a set list of vendors to choose from, which can relieve a lot of stress, but might also be restricting. Some venues like hotels and inns might offer a free stay on your anniversary, or at least offer a place for you and your guests to stay during your wedding weekend which is a nice bonus! Each venue has different guidelines for how late they can stay open, what type of food and drink they can serve, or even whether or not you can have candles, so be sure to ask lots of questions and consider all of the details and restrictions before making a final decision.

The Bedford Village Inn. Photo by Emily Tebbetts Photography.

The Bedford Village Inn. Photo by Emily Tebbetts Photography.

Remember that no matter what venue you choose, your wedding day will be perfect in every way. Choosing a venue can truly be the hardest part about wedding planning, but I promise that once you do, the rest will fall into place so much more easily!

One of my favorite parts about my own wedding venue is that they have a restaurant on site, so Anthony and I can celebrate anniversaries and other milestones each year for years to come! I hope that your venue search goes well and that you find the location of your dreams. I get giddy just thinking about how exciting it is to find a venue!

What questions do you have about finding your perfect venue? Don't be afraid to ask in the comments!

Authentically Wed is a weekly series of wedding-related blog posts by Kelly of Kelly Golia Events intended to provide you with an honest approach to planning your own wedding by highlighting stories of real brides, wedding professionals, and experiences from Kelly herself in her roles as a bride and as a wedding planner. For real, customized advice on a wedding-related topic of your choice, contact Kelly at or fill out the contact form here and let us know what you want to read about!