12 Jan

The Chicken, The Egg, Wedding Venue & Day

It’s the ultimate wedding-related dilemma: Which comes first, setting a wedding date or finding a venue? It’s a lot like the argument of the chicken and the egg. No one can tell you, with absolute certainty, which should rightfully come first.

Some couples choose to nail down the exact date of their nuptials and search for venues that can accommodate that particular day. Other couples look at venues first and then choose their date based on their venue’s availability. There really isn’t a right or a wrong way – it’s a matter of what works best for you. If anything, some options are less stressful than others and for some couples having as simple and stress-free planning experience is their main priority.

Robyn + Mel 5.20.16 - Stacy Able Photography

Option #1: Set a Specific Date First
Of all the options, this one can make things a tad more stressful than needed. At times couples choose to marry on a very specific day. This could be because of busy life schedules or because they have a date that is significant to them. The biggest downside of this plan is that you’ll have limited selection of venues to choose from (unless you’re planning very far in advance, by a year or two). Your venue options are first limited by whether or not the date is available and then further limited by your budget and the venue style you’re looking for. These may be areas of compromise as there could be only a few locations in your area available on your specific date.

Option #2: Find a Dream Venue First
Sometimes there is a venue we fall so hard in love with, it’s impossible to envision the event anywhere else. Having a flexible wedding date gives you the best chances of being able to book the venue of your dreams. It’s possible that the budget and guest list might need to be tailored to accommodate your dream venue, but if you’re truly committed to a particular space, these compromises will be worth it. By searching for a venue first before deciding on a date, you’ll have the greatest freedom to explore potential venues with minimal constraints.

Option #3: Choose a Date Range First
If you’re someone who wants to play it safe, selecting a date range is one way to move forward. Review a calendar and select a few dates that work for you and your families – allowing for considerations like major events, work schedules, holidays and the like. By choosing a date range rather than a specific single date, finding a venue that works for your style, budget and schedule can be done without too much added stress. Just remember, while Saturday is the most popular day of the week for weddings, Fridays and Sunday weddings are also a great option as well, and more budget friendly.

View More: //sarahandrachel.pass.us/jamesandkayla

From our perspective, we can understand the great benefit to selecting a range of dates, or even a season, that a person would want to be married in. It gives the best chances for selecting a venue the couple truly loves, at a time of year they prefer. When we begin to look at the numbers of available weekends in a given year, it’s interesting to see the ‘competition’ to nailing down a wedding date during prime time.

52 weekends per year
26 weekends during wedding season (May-October)
5-6 Holiday weekends during wedding season

That leaves about 20 prime weekends to be wed (maybe 25/26 including holidays) – not to say you cannot marry on a holiday weekend, but many choose not to because of other family commitments or vacations. (Trust us, we still have plenty of holiday weekend weddings). Of course a couple can choose to marry outside of peak wedding months too, but more often than not couples prefer summer and fall. How does this impact your ability to find a venue? Let’s look back to our three options from above:

Option #1: Set a Specific Date First
If you have a specific date, you’ll have one shot to be married this year because you have one date possibility. This means that no matter how much you love a venue, if they are not open on your date you will likely move onto the next venue (albeit with a conflicted heart!). Chances are you will find a venue, but it will take a lot more work and calling around to see what is available.

Option #2: Find a Dream Venue First
No matter what venue you are interested in, you’ll be able to get married there because you are not limited by date and they have multiple weekends to book.

Option #3: Choose a Date Range First
Selecting a range of possible dates will usually allow for a 3-4 week window of possibilities. This works in your favor if you are interested in a very specific location because you’ll still be able to get married during the time of year that you favor, but also at a location that you love.


How do you even truly get started selecting a venue? Answer the questions below and then start researching. These questions will direct your venue search and help you make better decisions about the spaces you are looking at.

What is your reception budget and guest count?
(Total reception budget includes how much will be spent in each category of room rental, food and beverage, linens, décor, centerpieces and rentals).
Do this first! Make a budget and a rough guest list! We cannot stress this enough. Two of the biggest questions every couple will ask themselves when browsing venues are: Can we afford it? Will it fit our guest count? Knowing your budget and guest count up front will instantly show you what venues are an option and which ones are not.

At first glance, many couples will begin their search with a fairly basic request, “Please send pricing information.” Venues are happy to do this. However, looking at the venue rental fee and catering minimums alone are not enough to decide if a venue will be the right fit. Guest count is also needed to determine which of the venue spaces can accommodate your number of guests.

For many venues, every space has a required catering minimum – that is the minimum amount that must be spent in food and beverage. If the base cost (room rental + catering minimum) is higher than what you’ve allotted in your budget, or leaves very little room in your budget for additional costs such as tax and service charge – or even the additional reception costs such as centerpieces – the venue is not the right fit for you.

Reception costs are the highest cost of any wedding expense, predominately made by the catering total. You can use your guest count to understand if you’ll be able to meet the catering minimum. The number of guests you invite directly dictates what a significant portion of the reception costs will be.

Number of Guests X Catering Cost Per Person =
Total Cost of Food and Beverage
(without tax, service charge, and any required rentals)

Once you’ve received pricing information from the venue, you can look at the venue with a finer eye for cost. Knowing the potential food and beverage costs for your guest count at a venue can be a great influence in venue decision making. This total minimum won’t include tax and service charge, but it will give you a realistic number to work with.

Will your ceremony be at the same location as your reception?
One of the biggest transitions we have witnessed in the wedding industry in recent years is the migration of ceremonies being held at the reception venue. Hosting both wedding events at one location is gaining in popularity for a few reasons, most notably out of convenience. If this is one of those priority points, have that decision made and be up front about it when speaking with venues. Just like a reception space, ceremony spaces also have a rental fee, capacity maximum, and availability to be considered.

Another element to inquire about will be back-up ceremony space, if the original ceremony space is outside. Your wedding day is an incredibly special day and given that weather is only predictable to a point, knowing that a back-up space is available could be worth its weight in gold when it comes to relieving unnecessary stress at your wedding.


Where is the best location to be host your reception?
Convenience of location is a big factor for many weddings. Indianapolis is said to be the crossroads of America, and as such there are always great events occurring in Indianapolis – some of which can cause traffic issues, take up prime parking, or lead to sold-out hotels in the area at various times of year. Regardless of the distance the couple or their family is traveling to attend, it’s important that the location is easily navigable for your guests.

This is most important for couples that are hosting several guests that are not familiar with the area of the venue. Many of Indianapolis’ big events are listed on the Visit Indy website to help couples get an idea for when major events are occurring downtown. This can give a fairly good idea about if it will be difficult to get a hotel space block or if there is an event that could impact parking for your venue in an area.

What are you must-have venue amenities?
Every venue has unique offering that they will boast about to attract you to their space. Sometimes these amenities are obvious things that couples will love (like waterside location, gardens, or outdoor patios), other times venue amenities might be things a couple hasn’t thought of. Many times this includes free parking, included dance floor, or tables and chairs.

Once you and your significant other identify what amenities (or event venue no-nos) that you won’t compromise on, you’ll be able to begin understanding which venue gives you the most bang for your buck based on what is most important to you.

And of course, do you have a specific date or time or year you’d like to marry?
Just like we said above, having a date or time of year/date range, will dictate how vast your venue options truly are. One of the first things many venues will ask you is what your preferred date is. It’s the first way to narrow down whether or not a venue is a possibility – based on how you are searching for a venue (the chicken or the egg – date or venue first).

Jointly, date and venue are the foundation of every wedding decision to be made. Every vendor will want to know the when and where of this memorable wedding you are planning, along with every family member, friend and co-worker. Ultimately, the ‘right’ answer to date or venue changes with every couple we meet because every couple has different wants, needs and priorities. We know the argument of the chicken or the egg is an age-old debate, but in the wedding world, date before venue or venue before date, is still a worthy discussion.

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