When is the right time to start looking for a venue? The earlier the better. Event venues can book up to 2 years in advance! Once you know your estimated budget, general location, and tentative guest count, you are more than ready to begin your search.
Choosing an event venue will be one of the first, and most important, decisions of your event planning process. This decision can be overwhelming and somewhat intimidating, but I can assure you that there is a venue out there that is a perfect fit. Choose the venue wisely, as this will have a great impact on the presentation, flow and overall experience of your event. Here are some guidelines to help you make your decision:
Your estimated guest count will serve as a benchmark for your search. Event venues have a dedicated capacity limit to meet building requirements, but also to ensure maximum comfort for your guests. Research event venues that can host your estimated guest count so that you can be sure you’re investing your planning time wisely.
Location is key. Not only for your local guests, but for guests who plan on attending from out of town. You’ll want to go the extra mile for these guests – since they literally are going the extra mile for you. Choose a venue that offers local hotel accommodations or partnerships. Don’t forget to consider traffic, parking and transportation options for your guests as well.
Although this may not seem crucial to your decision making, there is nothing worse than an angry guest who had to park 5 blocks away. Of course, it is ideal to find a venue with a large and free parking lot, but that is not always the case – and that is okay. Be sure to provide alternate parking options to your guests and inform them if there are parking lots near by that guests can easily access. An informed guest is a happier guest!
What is your vision for this event? Are you looking for a more modern and open space, or are you looking for a cozy and intimate setting? Are you seeking a more professional space or a venue that offers room for socializing; or perhaps both? These are questions that you need to consider prior to your search. Each venue offers their own unique and one-of-a-kind ambiance. Narrow down your search by knowing what style you are looking for, and if the venue will be able to bring your vision to life.
Pricing can vary greatly between venues. While some venues offer a “per person” charge, others may offer an “a la cart” or “all-inclusive” pricing package. Set a budget for your event and research venues in the area that fall within that budget. Venue fees are generally taxable. It’s also customary for venues to add a service fee to the bill for food and drink, typically between 18% and 24%. Be sure to factor this into your budget from the start.