Where to Start
Selecting a venue begins with the all-important discussion of where you would like to hold your wedding (and reception). First, consider this recommendation from experienced wedding consultants: prepare your guest list first and include the members of your wedding party in the headcount. This possible headcount will help you to realistically project the size of the venue you will need. Next, review your budget and keep in mind that the typical wedding reception alone consumes between 40-50 percent of your overall wedding budget.
Another great tip is to ask a recently-married friend for venue recommendations or work with a wedding consultant who can help research potential venues for you as well as assist with appointments, price negotiations, and working out the many venue details. Finally, consider whether you want both your wedding and your reception to be at the same venue. Be sure to view a number of venue options and then narrow the choices down to those that come closest to matching your criteria.
What’s Old and New in Wedding Venues
What is your dream wedding venue–a church, the seaside, a special park, the country club, large hotel ballroom, or a historic home? Get a notebook and wedding venue spreadsheet lined up before you venue shop. The notebook is for holding all notes, brochures, business cards, and everything else you collect from each venue. Venue spreadsheets can be customized to suit your specific criteria.
Here’s an A to Z round-up of the benefits and drawbacks of typical wedding venues to consider…
Art Gallery or Museum:
As non-traditional venues, each of these offers a truly unique setting. The Art Gallery of Greater Victoria is one place to consider.
- Benefits: Minimal decorating requirements.
- Drawbacks: Maybe costly to book and often booked far in advance. There may be limitations on sound levels and picture-taking. Some areas may be off-limits, resulting in limited event privacy. The venue could require a large security deposit.
This popular rustic choice may be the most relaxed of all venue options. The outlying country areas of Victoria like Central Saanich may provide you with a few options.
- Benefits: It may be available to you for little or no rental fee. It is an excellent DIY venue that can be glammed up or kept rustic chic.
- Drawbacks: Barns may have safety and accessibility-related issues. You may have to provide your own power generators, be limited in where you can set up food prep and service areas, and have limited water and plumbing resources (and facilities). A barn may also be a problematic environment for allergy sufferers.
Church or Cultural Centre:
These are perennial wedding venue favourites. Victoria has a few older churches and other sacred centres that provide a more traditional feel, as well as a lot of more modern buildings.
- Benefits: There may be little or no rental fee if you are a member of the congregation. You and your guests will save on time and travel costs. Many of these venues are in central parts of Victoria and will have ample parking, too. These venues often are ideal for the DIY bride who loves to decorate.
- Drawbacks: Setup is DIY or a budget line item for a professional setup/ breakdown/cleaning crew. Kitchen facilities may be limited. Some facilities have restrictions on serving alcohol or playing music too late.
Ideal for vintage-themed weddings. A lot of them are scattered throughout the Greater Victoria area.
- Benefits: Charm and intimacy. Many historic homes (and grounds) are well-suited to smaller weddings and receptions.
- Drawbacks: Size, layout, and safety may be the primary drawbacks for these sites. The layout of older homes is not always conducive for a great flow of traffic for guests and service providers. If maintained in near-original condition, these venues may have outdated plumbing and wiring; there also may have strict time, fire, and alcohol limitations.
Park, Botanical Gardens, Vineyard, or the Seaside:
- Benefits: Popular and lovely wedding venues that can accommodate any number of wedding themes. Victoria is surrounded by the ocean and with gardens and has the perfect weather for allowing outdoor weddings in these venues throughout the year.
- Drawbacks: Access for guests, vendors, and setup may be challenging. There may be insufficient outlets for sound equipment or food service needs. Weather can be unpredictable, too. Public venues may also be difficult or impossible to secure from onlookers and passers-through.
Private Golf Clubs:
These are popular venues that offer lavish, sophisticated wedding and reception services and packages. Examples in Greater Victoria are Royal Colwood Golf Club and the Victoria Golf Club.
- Benefits: Lovely setting and décor. Many clubs have staff who specialize in planning and catering weddings and facilities that can accommodate indoor and outdoor functions.
- Drawbacks: Might need to be sponsored by a current member. Also, several events may be scheduled simultaneously; as a result, you may not have complete privacy or exclusive use. As well, you may be contractually obligated to use in-house services and preferred vendors.
Private Home or Estate:
This setting may suit the small and intimate wedding or accommodate a large wedding event. Victoria and its surrounding municipalities have a lot of beautiful properties to offer. Check with your friends and family as they may have connections with someone who owns a property, or they may own a property, in which you could hold your wedding.
- Benefits: The venue may be offered free of charge to you. You have the convenience of both the wedding and reception in one location.
- Drawbacks: Municipality laws may limit the number of guests, parking, and noise levels. A professional crew would best handle Setup/breakdown/cleanup.
Urban Loft, Theatre, or Concert Hall:
Thinking of something truly unique or dramatic? One of these may be your venue.
- Benefits: A blank canvas on which to build your theme, but you may have to do much of the planning and staging yourself. The in-town location can be ideal for reducing guests’ traveling time and distance.
- Drawbacks: These usually are blank/empty places and you will have to bring everything in, including all decorations, furnishings, linens; you may also need to provide your own catering services and setup/breakdown/cleanup crew.
Without a means to keep track of the data you collect about each prospective wedding venue, you may become hopelessly confused. These are the basic items you should track on your spreadsheet for every venue you consider:
- Venue Name
- Website/Primary Contact Info
- Type of Venue
- Deposit (when required, amount)
- Catering Options/Restrictions
- Facility/Services Restrictions
- Facility Extras
What is your dream wedding venue? Let us know in the comments below.