When you finally embark on the wedding planning process, one of your first tasks to tackle is figuring out where you want to get married. Easier said than done, right? Chances are, both of you may have already covered the basics such as to which season you’d ideally like the wedding to take place in, or the overall locale. Those seemingly small victories are actually great starting points when it comes to hunting for your dream venue.

Outline and Budget

Your first step is where the budget comes into play. You and your soon-to-be spouse should map out how much you’re looking to spend on your wedding as a whole. The general rule of thumb is allocating about 47-50% of your intended budget to your venue and catering. The guest list will be instrumental in this as well, since you’ll want to have an approximate head-count including any necessary accommodations.

Once you’ve set up the perimeters for your venue requirements, it’s time to put some feelers out there. Do your research on some spots you have in mind, including logistics of the venue itself. Where would the ceremony be located, and where would the reception take place? Is the venue staff full-service, i.e. setting up and breaking down the event? What’s included in any fees they may charge?

Site Tour Checklist

Keep in mind that the venue may also have restrictions that you should know about and ultimately prepare for if you’re going to pursue them for your big day. Noise ordinances or curfews are not uncommon after a certain hour, so talk it through with the venue manager to ensure your allotted time for the event won’t conflict.

When the day comes around for your site tour, arm yourself with a list of questions so everyone is on the same page. Ask if they have any preferred vendors, what their contingency plan is for inclement weather, or if there’s a price difference depending on which date you’d like to book. All-inclusive packages are often overlooked, but it could lead to a smoother event if the venue shoulders some of the weight.

When You Shouldn’t Sacrifice (And When You Should)

Above all, couples should not sacrifice their budget for a venue space. If you can’t afford a venue with your budget, it’s best to move on to another option. Staying in budget with the venue allows for potential splurges in entertainment, bar, and catering. Those elements are going to wow your guests and make your day more memorable, while florals and décor may not make as much of an impact. There are many creative and budget-friendly ways to achieve your style, like green garlands in lieu of center arrangements. Cost-effective can still be beautiful!

At the end of the day, picking the perfect wedding venue should be about how well it suits your wedding vision. The best match will strive to exceed expectations (and succeed in doing so!) on your big day.

Ms Zebra Says: These are wonderful tips to selecting what is right for you both as a couple and matching up with the ever scary “budget”!!!!

Paulette Alkire is the Lead Wedding Planner at Chalet View Lodge. Chalet View Lodge is a full-service wedding venue as well as a boutique resort, and spa tucked in the mountains of Graeagle, California. This unique property boasts ten beautiful acres that creates the perfect private wedding oasis.