Of all the things that need to come together when planning a wedding, there’s one key piece that will truly influence the overall theme and mood for the wedding — the wedding venue. The dress, colors, decor, the cake, all of these elements are very important, but put them in the wrong venue and it won’t have the same spark that a bride wants to have on her wedding day.

If you have recently gotten engaged, congratulations! Once the initial excitement and wonder have eased a little, you can finally start planning your dream wedding. One of the very first things you need to do is book a venue. Because event venues book up quickly, especially for weddings, it’s important to start thinking about a potential date and looking around at venues in the area.

At Woodlawn Gardens, we may be a little biased, but we believe we have one of the most beautiful venues in the Atlanta and Cleveland, Georgia area. Our rustic wedding venue offers several ceremony spaces, including indoor and outdoor, and we offer several packages to choose from. From start to finish, we strive to make planning your wedding and getting married as fun and smooth as possible.

How to Choose a Wedding Venue

The Style

Do you imagine getting married in a traditional church? Do you want to walk down the aisle in a quaint backyard? The style of the venue should match your own personal style as well as what you want for your wedding day. Some popular styles include rustic farms or country inns, classic banquet halls or country clubs, vintage buildings, romantic gardens, or casual beach weddings. When you narrow down what style you want for your big day, you can start touring venues with similar characteristics.

The overall style of the venue will play a significant role in the theme of your wedding — if you want a classic country club wedding, maybe skip touring a space that features rustic decor. With that in mind, spend some time thinking about what elements you want around you on your wedding day before considering these other factors.

Amenities

Wedding venues typically provide a variety of amenities to help the day go smoothly. However, there are some venues that offer little other than the space itself. If you want a wedding that is as stress-free as possible, look for a venue with some these amenities:

  • Bridal and groom suites for getting ready
  • Catering
  • Photography
  • Audio/visual equipment
  • Indoor and outdoor spaces in case of bad weather
  • Tables, chairs, tents, linens, place settings
  • Large outdoor area for pictures

Many of these will be included in pre-set packages, or they can be purchased a la carte. Either way, a wedding venue that has these options available will reduce the stress of arranging rentals and working with various companies to get everything you need for your big day.

Decor

This goes back to the overall style of the wedding venue, but also the opportunity and ability to add your own decor. If you have a vision for a more traditional wedding, does the venue have the right layout and overall structure that will allow you to add certain elements to match your vision? If you want a more rustic wedding, is there any outdoor space available and will you be able to easily add items to give the space some of your own character? Venues are typically a blank slate when you first tour them, so if you can’t imagine making the space your own, it just may not be the right fit.

Capacity

Sending out save-the-date cards or invitations doesn’t happen until closer to the big day, but you may want to have a general idea of the size of the wedding before touring wedding venues. If you fall in love with a venue whose capacity is 75 people, but your guest list ends up being 200, you will frantically have to start looking for a new space. On the other hand, if you love a venue that can hold 250, but your guest list is only 50, the space will be mostly empty and could feel a bit strange.

Out of Town Guests

If you’re inviting friends and family who don’t live in that area, you’ll want to consider where they will stay and how easy it will be for them to get around. Look at a potential venue in relation to the nearest hotels in the area, auto rental companies, and the airport. If the venue is out in the country, would you be willing to pay for a car rental or a hotel stay? It’s not always necessary to go out of your way to make out of town guests comfortable (possibly for older guests or parents of the bride/groom), but the consideration would be appreciated.

Budget

When planning a wedding, you should do everything with your budget in mind. The wedding venue is often one of the largest items as well, another reason to find and book your venue as soon as possible. Depending on the location, the packages, and amenities they offer, the cost could range from $3,000 to $30,000. An average couple may spend between 10-15% on the venue. But it will depend on how much you allocate toward each item on your budget and, simply, how much you love the space.

Timeline

Does a potential venue have your desired date available? And is this date giving you enough time to plan your wedding? When selecting a date and looking at venues, consider the needs of your guests as well — if you have teachers on your guest list, a late August wedding may be when schools are starting; the July 4th and Memorial day weekends are popular vacation times and guests may already be making plans. But keep in mind that you may not be able to please everyone, so choose a date that fits your needs first.

Trust Your Gut

When it comes down to it, go with your gut feeling. You know what you want better than anyone else and you know which venue matches your unique style and personality, so trust your initial reaction. When you love a venue, feel comfortable there, and can imagine getting married there, that’s a great thing!

At Woodlawn Gardens, we love helping couples plan their wedding, and watching them enjoy their big day! Located outside of Atlanta, in a small town, we offer a rustic, country-style venue with charm and character. We offer several affordable wedding packages to choose from that include a variety of amenities to make your day a dream. Schedule a tour with us today!