How to select a Perfect PNW Wedding Venue
You’re engaged and ready to start planning!
How do you select your perfect Pacific Northwest Wedding Venue?
There are literally hundreds of amazing wedding and reception venues in the Portland metropolitan including our stunning coastline and amazing mountains! How can you possibly select the perfect PNW Wedding Venue?
Let’s go over some ways to compare them, dissect their pricing, and figure out what you are really looking for in a Pacific Northwest wedding venue.
When is the Big Day?
First, have you selected a firm date? That will limit availability especially for popular venues. If you “have to” get married on that special day, book your venue as soon as you can! If you don’t have specific date, you will have more options. Do you have a month or even a season in mind? If not, start thinking about the climate, the popular colors that are right for the season, and if you love springtime, hot summer nights, autumn foliage, or brisk winter days. Now decide if you want your entire event to be outdoors, indoors, a mix or option for either. Next, you will have to determine the approximate number of guests you expect in attendance.
How much are you budgeting for your wedding?
Let me throw in a mention of budget here. Your top wedding costs will probably be your venue and catering. One of the easiest ways to lower the cost of your wedding is to decrease the number of people. With fewer people, you can rent a smaller venue. With fewer people, your per/person dinner cost will be less. With fewer people, you might be able to splurge on something you really want (a more expensive dress, a renowned DJ, live flowers, etc.). With fewer people, you will have time to really connect with each guest at your reception.
But I digress; let’s get back to that venue search.
Does your wedding style match your location?
Consider your style (if you’ve already purchased your dress, then your style is pretty much decided). Who are you? If you love country music, then a minimalist modern venue isn’t going to feel right. Wouldn’t a rustic barn make for a great place to line-dance?! Are you planning a more traditional ceremony? Look for a venue that might have a chapel, or research churches with an attached reception hall. Historic sites are memorable locations in your city (possibly it was where your parents or grandparents were married). Newer venues and ballrooms tend to have open floorplans easily decorated to your personal taste. Again, if you’ve purchased your wedding attire, envision how it will look in that location.
Where can I find Wedding Venues?
Now that you’ve considered the when and what, you can start to research and tour some potential locations! Finding venues can be as easy as a Google search (wedding venues near me or indoor wedding venues), but you can also visit wedding sites like Wedding Wire or Wedding Spot where you can filter your desires and end up with a short list to review, or, of course, hire a wedding planner who can give you suggestions based on their experiences in the industry.
Comparing Apples to Apples in Venue Pricing
Next, as you contact the venues in your list, the information you receive back from them will be varied and you may find them difficult to compare. First is the “price”. Don’t be scared. Check how many hours of access you get for rehearsal, setting up and decorating, your event, and breakdown and clean up. Some venues allow for 3 days of access while others might host several events in a single day limiting the time you can be onsite. More about HOME weddings in a future blog.
Other amenities to compare are whether tables and chairs and even tents are included, are tablecloths and linens included and do they offer a selection of décor you can use. A full-service venue may offer all of this plus set-up, breakdown, and day-of coordination. If these options are a la carte, then add them up in order to compare the pricing of different venues. Really, the more that is included and done for you, the more you can focus on personalizing your wedding day!
Wedding Venue Vendor Policies
Check their policy on vendors, catering and alcohol. Some venues have their own vendors that you must use, others require clients choose from their list, while others have an open-vendor policy and you can hire anyone you like. Using suggested vendors doesn’t always mean it’ll cost more. Often, the venue owners have had great experiences with them. You can trust these vendors will offer exceptional value and service! It doesn’t hurt to contact them and get a quote.
When it comes to alcohol, the policy for a venue may be none (or in-house only), limited, or anything goes! My suggestion is to keep it simple, use your caterer’s bartender if they have one. Plan to stop serving alcohol 30-45 minutes before the end of the event. Each venue will have a different time that the event must end. If you expect to party all night, you should re-think that. Wedding days are long and exhausting and, truly, most of your guests will stay for less than 6 hours. Depending on what time you have to be off the premises, plan your wedding day accordingly; give yourself plenty of time before the ceremony, figure out how much time is needed between the ceremony and reception (for photos or flipping the room) and then how and when you want to end your event.
Is my venue too hard to get to?
One last thought on the location of your venue, consider where your guests live or where they are coming from. If you have a lot of family and friends coming from out of town, where will they stay and how will they get to the venue? Some of the best venues in Oregon and Southwest Washington are rural. They are fantastic, memorable locations, just make a plan for your guests. If the travel is too expensive or time consuming, some guests will simply decline to attend unless accommodations are readily available and getting to the location is easy (or even provided!). Again, you’ll have to consider that in all your planning details.
So as you look at the price of the venue and think “Yes, this is within my budget!” but then you’ll have to rent or supply everything yourself, that cost will increase considerably. If you cringe and think “It’s too much” but you may save hundreds of dollars on linens, hundreds more on décor and have far less work. It PAYS to do your research and break the “costs” down to a level where you can compare them. Finally, though, it will come down to L.O.V.E.; the venue that is exactly what you’re dreaming of. That “fit” when you walk through it. When you find THE perfect PNW Wedding Venue, you’ll know it. You can always try to negotiate!
Marry in the Pacific Northwest!
Whether you live here or want to come to the Pacific Northwest for your destination wedding or elopement, I’d love to help you plan your big day. I can assist you with all of this researching that Perfect PNW Wedding Venue and introduce you to vendors that will make your big day the happiest day of your lives (so far)! Whether you are a perfectionist, a dreamer, a rebel or an explorer, it’s Your Story.