Finding the perfect venue for your event can be one of the most stressful components of party planning. You want to make sure that it is easily accessible to your guests, and that it has the facilities and event team you need to host a successful party. Mostly, you just want to be satisfied—even happy—with your choice. Don’t worry, we're here to help with all the factors to consider that will make booking your next event venue much easier. We even have some negotiation tips that could help to save you money.
Here are all the things to consider when booking a party venue.
How does the venue’s location align with you and your guests’ needs?
If this is a corporate event, the general rule is that you want the commute to be similar to everyone’s daily commute to the office. If you’re booking for a wedding, while it’s much more acceptable to ask people to travel, if you are choosing a venue close to (or in) your hometown, it’s nice to consider how long everyone will have to drive from that area.
Speaking of driving, consider traffic. If it’s a corporate event consider if you’re asking people to get there after work (when you have to take rush hour traffic into account) or if you’re hosting it during the weekend or later hours of the night. If you’re booking a venue for a wedding, consider if the venue is hard to find. If your guests will have to travel into the mountains or into a city that they don’t normally frequent, consider mentioning this on the invitation. People are much less likely to complain if they know what to expect.
How many people does the event venue hold?
This may seem like a no brainer, but venue capacity is truly one of the more important factors to take into consideration. For weddings, you need to know how far you’re willing to budge on this—if you fall in love with a unique venue, are you willing to make your guest list fit its capacity?
If you need flexibility in terms of final headcount, some venues, specifically banquet halls, hotels, convention centers and corporate meeting spaces, can often accommodate more people if needed. They may be able to put you in an expandable room—think of those pull-out walls—or they may be able to open up wine cellars or additional rooms if necessary. Make sure you ask when you’re booking as this may leave you with more options in a particular venue than you were expecting.
Is the venue suitable for your event style?
When choosing an event venue, have a wish list of space requirements you’d like in order to achieve your chosen theme and party style. By choosing a venue with built-in decor and features that suit your unique event style, you’ll save money on things like decorations and rentals to transform the space.
What services are included in the venue rental?
Some venues offer everything from tables and chairs and on-site catering to an event planner and a state of the art sound system, saving you a lot of time and money. While other event spaces might be a blank slate, meaning you’ll need to look after all the other details—the benefit of these spots is that you can host a highly-customized event.
Does the venue have a good view?
Maybe it’s your wedding and you have your heart set on an ocean (or skyline, or mountain!) view, or maybe this is a company holiday party and you want to make sure everyone feels relaxed while looking at the countryside. Regardless, having a specific view in mind when setting out on your initial venue search can really help you narrow down your options.
Make sure you lead with this priority when you call. If it’s a restaurant or large venue, they may have multiple rooms—some of which may have a view and some of which may not—and this will let them know that this is an important factor to you and your party. Make sure you specifically ask for the rooms that will accommodate this need.
Does the venue allow outside vendors?
This is a particularly important consideration if you have your heart set on a specific caterer or entertainer. That’s right, some venues only allow you to choose from their pre-selected list of vendors—and this is something to know before touring a space. It can be to your benefit as the preferred vendors will be familiar with the venue’s facilities and policies.
If your heart is set on an event venue, but they won’t budge on the vendor rule, ask if you can pay a fee in order to bring in your own vendor. You can also ask them about their list of requirements from vendors and let them know that you can check with your vendor ahead of time to see if they’re willing to comply with these rules.
Is there a minimum spend per person?
This is one of the most dreaded questions: does the venue require a minimum spend per guest? This can definitely be a factor that sends you over budget if you’re planning a wedding, or completely rules out a venue if you’re planning a corporate party.
If you really want a specific venue, but their minimum is too high, ask if they will consider lowering that number for more guests. This is also a time to consider cutting your guest list and raising the quality of food or drinks served.
Does the venue have ample parking?
This is definitely an often overlooked detail that can be super annoying to guests. Make sure that the venue has ample parking, and ask if they have a shuttle service to accommodate older or disabled guests. If they require you to provide your own shuttle service, this is a time where you might be able to negotiate down the price of the venue.