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7 Things to Consider When Choosing a Wedding Venue

Updated: Jan 6

Engagement season is upon us! Did you know that 40 percent of engagements occur between Thanksgiving and Valentine’s Day (source: WeddingWire)? If you got a sparkly gift this holiday season, you've probably started the search for your dream wedding venue. Finding a wedding venue that you vibe with, fits your budget, and meets all of your wants and needs is super important. Keep the following points in mind when searching for your dream wedding venue!

Wedding Venue on a Lake NJ
Meyer Photo & Video

1. Guest List

Having a rough idea of how many people will be on your guest list is important when you start your wedding venue search. Having an estimated guest count will help you narrow down potential wedding venues. Find wedding venues with capacities and guest minimums that match your guest count.

2. Style

Sara Fitz Co

Do you like traditional New Jersey ballrooms with lots of big crystal chandeliers, or do you prefer a non-traditional ballroom that you can use as a blank canvas? Do you envision getting married under a tent or having indoor and outdoor options? Is modern, boho, classy, nautical, outdoorsy, or rustic your theme? Find a space that you feel at home and that feels like you.

3. Budget

To avoid disappointment and to avoid spending your life savings, set a budget for your wedding before making any major decisions. Since the venue is often the first decision a couple will make, knowing this cost early on allows you to figure out how to divvy up the remaining budget to meet your needs. Do be prepared to possibly go over your budget, as couples often underestimate the cost of products and services. 40% of increased budgets are due to couples admitting they set a lower budget than what was realistic. 54% of couples increase their budget during planning, with 45% allocating additional funds to wedding items they fell in love with along the way (source: WeddingWire). Once you have your number in mind, narrow down the wedding venues that align with your goal.

4. Location & Accommodations

Do you want a destination wedding or do you envision getting married in your hometown? If you have lots of guests who will be traveling, make sure there is a major airport close by, as well as places for your guests to stay. Explore the area to see if there are any hotels or Airbnbs near your potential wedding venue. There are 3 hotels within 15 miles of Rock Island for guests to stay at, as well as an Airbnb across the lake!

5. Service

Dearly Beloved Weddings

Not only should you find a venue you vibe with, but you should also find a team that you vibe with. You'll be working very closely with the staff throughout the entire planning process and the day of your wedding, so make sure you feel comfortable with them. Do some research and read reviews to see what other couples who have gotten married there have to say about their experience.

6. Back-up Plan

Laura Briggs | Jollifier

Make sure your venue has back-up options in case of inclement weather! When it's cold, raining, or snowing at Rock Island, the staff transforms the ballroom for indoor ceremonies and then transforms it back for reception!

7. Hidden Fees

If you're venue hunting in New Jersey, you will quickly learn that many NJ wedding venues tack on an additional service charge that is anywhere from 20 - 27% of your total 😲 Rock Island is one of the wedding venues with inclusive pricing.


Other points to consider when searching for your dream venue:

  • Does the venue offer wedding planning and day-of coordination?

  • All-inclusive or a lot of DIY and BYO?

  • Is there a curfew or noise restrictions?

  • Do they host more than one wedding a day? (Rock Island hosts only one wedding a day)!

  • What time of year do you want to get married?

  • Are there any hidden fees? Don't forget to ask if the quoted price includes sales tax, service charge, and gratuity.

Your wedding venue will become your home away from home on your wedding day. Find a venue that you love with a team that you feel comfortable with. Congratulations on your engagement and enjoy the wedding planning process!

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