How To Choose A Wedding Venue

First United Church in Swift Current. Photo by Captured Photography by Nikki.

Written by Kirstin

Hey, I'm Kirstin. I'm a local wedding planner out of Swift Current, SK and I'm the host of the SW Wedding Expo and SwiftCurrentWedding.com. I'm so glad you're here, and I hope to help you find all the information you need to make planning your local wedding a breeze!

February 1, 2021

Click on images to see photo credit.

Your wedding venue is kind of a big deal.

It’s the setting for everything that happens on your day.  And therefore, it is one of the first things you book, and one of the biggest budget items.

Today I’m going to walk you through everything you need to know about choosing your perfect venue.  It’s a lot so here’s a little outline so you can jump around.

  1. What to do before you choose.
  2. How much to spend.
  3. Types of venues.
  4. Questions to ask.
  5. How to choose.

Before we dive in, remember that there’s a (growing) list of local venues right here!

1. What to do before you choose a venue.

Before you can even start looking at venues, you’ll need some basic information.  To avoid wasting time looking at venues that aren’t right for you, make sure you’ve got this list nailed down first.

Priorities

This is the very first thing you should do after getting engaged (other than celebrate of course!).  You and your fiance need to have a chat and figure out what is most important to each of you.  Combine your anwers to decide what is going to be top priority for your day.

Budget

Crunching numbers sucks, but not having a budget sucks even more.  Using your priority list, decide on some numbers for basic budget categories.  This may involve some uncomfortable conversations if you have other people (hello parents!) contributing.  Better to have the awkardness now, than after you’ve already spent the money!

Style

Will you be having a religious wedding?  Are you going all out on a them?  A colour palette you’re not willing to budge on?  You need have a basic idea of your wedding style before you move forward.  This is where Pinterest becomes your best friend!

Guest Count

You won’t be sending invitations for months, but you do need to start jotting down your ideal guest list.  This can be more of a wishlist at this point, it will likely need refining in the days ahead.  You will eventually need to make this into an A list (people you’re not willing to get married without), and then a B list that goes in order of priority.

Dates

Don’t pick a firm date yet, you’ll want to keep some flexibility until you nail down a venue and any top priorities on your list.  Pick a month, or a handful of dates, or even a whole season, that you’re okay with.

2. How much to spend.

This is where having your priority list and budget set gets really useful.  Spending on your venue should add up to about 15-20% of your totaly budget.  That number will vary depending on a few things.  If you need mulitiple venues then all of them should be included in this total.  If the venue is going to need a lot of decorating (curling rinks I’m looking at you…) then you’ll need to keep that in mind and move some of this budget line over into your decor categories.

In our area (south-west Saskatchewan) your venue could range anywhere from a few hundred dollars for a community centre or rink, to a few thousand for a ballroom or to set up a tented wedding.  The average is somewhere between $1500-$1800 for a three day rental of a good sized hall.  Keep in mind that many factors will change these numbers.

3. Types of venues.

I’m going to arrange these from (generally) least expensive to most.  Obviously there are exceptions and some overlap, but this is basically how it goes.  This can also give you some ideas for types of places to start looking for in your area.

Community/Cultural Centres

This would include churches, rinks, community centres, etc.  They are inexpensive to rent, but often require a lot of décor and linens to be brought in.

Municipally Owned

This category is hard to nail down since it includes so many things.  Parks, halls, campgrounds, and anything else owned by the municipality.  Usually they cost less than privately owned facilities of the same size.

Community Clubs

Think Legion halls, and charity clubs.  They often have an events space that they rent out when they’re not using it.  You’ll still need to bring in your own décor and linens.

Restaurants

A great option for smaller events.  You can rent out a private room, or even the whole thing.  Most restaurants will let you rent the whole thing if you guarantee a certain number of meals.

Banquet Halls

Privately owned halls that specialize in hosting banquets are hard to come by around here.  But they have the advantage over other halls of usually including linens and staff, and sometimes a décor collection you can borrow from.

Hotel Ballrooms

More expensive than a regular hall, but with way better service.  They have experiences staff on site, and usually a few options for linens and other elements.  The only two in the area that I know of are Coast Hotel in Swift Current, and The Resort at Cypress Hills.

Golf/Country Clubs

Golf clubs are usually really pretty and great for photos.  They include the same advantages as hotels (minus the rooms obviously).

Heritage Buildings/Estates

This would include a lot of unique venues like museums, private homes, or historic sites.  You’ll usually pay a premium to get in, and still need to bring in some of your own rentals and staff.  Your decorating budget will likely be very small though!

Tents

I know having your wedding on your own property seems like the cheapest option…after all you don’t have to pay for location at all!  But in reality this is the most expensive way to go because you essentially have to create an entire venue from scratch.  Everything from a dance floor, to bathrooms, to flatware have to be rented, set up, and cleaned up.  It’s a lot of money and even more work (I know because I did it!).

 

4. Questions to ask potential venues.

I’ve narrowed it down to ten…

I. What dates are available?

II. What is the capacity for different floor plans?  With/without dance floor, long tables, round tables, etc.

III. What is your fee structure?  What is included?  Are there extra fees for anything?  What’s the deposit?  What’s the payment plan?  Cancellation policy?  Postponement policy?

IV. Do you have liability insurance?  Do you require wedding insurance?

V. Are there change rooms for the wedding party on site?

VI. Can I bring my own caterer?  Cake?

VII. What are the decor/layout rules and restrictions?

VIII. Do you have a sound system?

IX. How many bathrooms are there?  There should be 4 per 100 guests.

X. Where will guests park?

Bonus for outdoor weddings: What is the bad weather backup plan?

Bonus for Covid-19: What are your pandemic protocols?

5. How to choose.

Well first there’s probably a few to eliminate right away.  Your dates areb’t available, it’s way over budget, can’t fit enough people…you get the idea.

Once you’ve eliminated the obvious, here are three questions to ask yourself to help you decide.

Does the decor and style suit our vision?  How much decorating would we need to do?

What would we all do here?  Ceremony, reception, rehearsal dinner, gift opening brunch, etc.

How will our guests get here, and get home (safely)?

Once you’ve answered those, it’s time to go with your gut.

Now go find your perfect spot!

Want a free printable venue information tracker?

Keep track of all the information you need to know about each venue in one handy place so you don’t forget to ask something, or lose the sticky note you were using!

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