Expert Advice: 15 Mistakes Couples Make When Choosing a Wedding Venue

Choosing your Tampa Bay wedding venue is one of the biggest decisions you'll make for your wedding day as it sets the tone for the atmosphere, can dictate which vendors you hire, and takes up half your budget, so it's important to select one that is the perfect match.

One of the biggest mistakes we see couples make is to inquire with several venues and then get completely overwhelmed by the options, emails, and follow-ups.

Take the time to do some due diligence before you hit the send button, and if you are no longer interested in a venue, then kindly reply to let them know (that way, they stop emailing you!)

We asked our team of wedding experts to share their insight on common mistakes couples make when choosing their wedding venue to give you insight into making a better-informed decision!

Mistake #1: Focusing Only on Price

“If you only focus on the price, you will always fall short. It's the experience and memories that are the critical components. Focus on the best values and the best reviews (from couples and vendors). Focus on venues that care about others (inclusive of everyone), that care about the environment (paperless, no straws, green cleaning products, low-waste, etc), and that are easy to deal with. Choose venues that list their pricing, put everything in writing, and have all your details, floorplans, timelines, invoices, and vendor contacts info organized. You want a venue that really cares about you and not just your checkbook. Ask a lot of questions and be a good listener. If the venue isn't asking you a lot of questions, run.” –Michael Scott Novilla, NOVA 535

“The pricing and minimums of a venue are important factors when choosing where you’ll be hosting your wedding, but the price itself should not be a deciding factor. Think about what you’re getting in the overall package. One venue may be $1,000 versus a venue that is $5,000, but the first may not offer the same items and amenities like tables, chairs, flatware, etc. Having to bring in rental companies and vendors often costs more than choosing a venue that already provides these necessary items. While a price tag may be higher at one location, the value, and convenience may be higher as well.” -Melanie Eubanks, Lemon Drops Weddings & Events

“Although budget is a significant factor, choosing a venue based solely on price can lead to dissatisfaction. You may end up compromising on key aspects such as location, size, amenities, and restrictions, which could cost you more in the long run in terms of logistics, additional decorations, or hiring outside vendors to meet your needs. Opting for an inexpensive hall that doesn’t fit your theme or vision might end up costing more for décor to transform the space, and it may never quite achieve the look you’re going for, leading to disappointment.” -Claire Augello, Beneva

“When planning your venue budget, it's crucial to recognize that not all venues provide the same services. Opting for a more expensive venue that includes more can turn out to be a smarter investment, saving both time and money in your overall wedding budget. While a DIY venue may seem cost-effective initially, a venue offering inclusive packages with its own tables, chairs, linens, and decor can result in significant time and financial savings. Additionally, factoring in set-up and break-down considerations, choosing a venue that handles these aspects streamlines your experience, offering a smoother wedding day. For the best value, consider a venue with in-house coordinators and lodging; this not only provides peace of mind but enhances your overall wedding experience by having everything and everyone in one convenient location. Opting for a venue half the price and having to pay for a wedding planner, rentals, and decorations may end up costing significantly more. When selecting a venue, it's essential to assess the overall value it can bring to your entire wedding budget.” -Lindsey Hewell, Legacy Lane Weddings

Mistake #2: Focusing Only on the Date

“Don't just focus on a Saturday, especially for destination weddings. Guests will make the journey and come to the wedding, whether it is on a Tuesday morning or Saturday night. The people who want to be there will be. What is more important?  The date or the venue?” -Lindsey Sikes, Hyatt Regency Clearwater Beach

“Unpopular opinion: hosting your wedding date near a holiday calendar date might help (or oftentimes hurt) your guest attendance. If you are planning on getting married during a holiday weekend or season, be mindful of friends and family commitments that may conflict with your wedding date. Of course, the ultimate goal is to have as many of your loved ones present to celebrate with you, but some might be forced to make a difficult choice between attending your wedding and other family commitments. Hosting around a holiday date can also mean increased travel and hotel costs for those out-of-town guests attending your celebration. Ultimately, you know your guests best, so taking these factors into consideration may just help you pick the perfect date! -Mary Barnett, The Birchwood

“Check the calendar and look at events happening in the area. This is important so that roads are not closed and hotel room rates are high. The venue might not know the event schedule in the area, but looking at the history of the date can help for sure.” -Katy Martin, Coastal Coordinating

Mistake #3: Not Doing a Venue Tour

“Choosing a venue is hard and wonderful at the same time. There are so many wonderful decisions out there, but so many things to consider. Before you start to go on venue tours, narrow your list down to your top three to five options. Otherwise, it can get quite overwhelming. I’ve had couples go on anywhere from two up to 15 venue tours. When they go on more than five hours, it gets quite overwhelming, and then it’s hard to compare. Before starting tours, narrow down your list. Start an Excel sheet with your top ‘must haves' for a venue and put that together to see which one hits the most. Once you do that, then tour. If you can schedule a tour on a day when they’re already having an event, it’s really wonderful to see it set up. Keep in mind this would most likely have to be earlier in the morning as that event will be happening that day, and vendors would not be able to meet during event times. Once you have your list of venues, also follow them on social media and watch their stories especially on the weekends. It really helps get you a really good idea of what it would be like to have your wedding there.” -Katy Martin, Coastal Coordinating

“One of the biggest issues we see when couples choose a venue is not having toured the venue to see all of the possible locations, décor, etc. that are offered. This happens more so with destination/out-of-town weddings that base their choices on pictures found online. Keep in mind that many venues don’t update their websites often, and an area you absolutely love in photos may be completely different. Trees and gazebos shown on the website may have been destroyed during a hurricane, or a ballroom may have gone under renovations that have yet to be photographed. You never truly know what you’re going to get, so make sure you see a space, in person, before making any decisions.” -Melanie Eubanks, Lemon Drops Weddings & Events

“Touring your wedding venue is important, and even though the venue may have nice photos and good reviews, seeing your wedding venue in person is a must! Not only is this the space where you'll be spending the morning/first half of your day, but also the space where you'll have hair and makeup done, as well as photos taken. Pay attention to the natural lighting conditions at the venue, as it can significantly influence the overall atmosphere of your wedding day. Some venues may appear different at various times of the day, impacting the mood and aesthetics of your wedding. Consider the lighting during different hours to ensure the venue complements the desired ambiance for your special day, especially if you want your ceremony before/after sunset, a specific look to your ceremony/reception (will you be incorporating candles or other light fixtures that you want to be highly visible) and also account for daylight to take photos, whether that be before and/or after your ceremony!” -Tara Zimmerman, Limelight Photography

“Be prepared with your questions before going into your venue tour. Have a list! The thing I love most about my job is answering couples's questions and educating them on the venue selection/planning process. Ask about preferred lists, what's included, amenities, getting-ready rooms, set-up times, break-down times, customization options, how involved is the venue manager, date availability, time frames and how that factors into booking. You should reach out and get initial quotes and estimates, drafts of contracts, and policies and procedures of each venue before narrowing down your options and scheduling tours. You may love a particular venue, but their heavy restrictions may prevent you from customizing your wedding to your liking.”  -Leigh Wilson, Creative Loafing

Elegant White Outdoor Courtyard Wedding Ceremony Inspiration | Garden Folding Chairs | White Roses, Pink Carnations, Orange Anemone, and Greenery Aisle Decor Ideas | St Pete Event Venue The Don Cesar | Photographer Lifelong Photography Studio

Garden-Inspired Blush St Pete Beach Wedding | Don CeSar | Lifelong Photography Studio

Mistake #4: Not Making an Appointment

“Many couples get so excited when they are engaged; the first thing that they want to do is go out and explore venues. That is wonderful, and we love showing our beautiful Pink Palace! However, walk-ins can be difficult for the venue with couples who do not know much about the property or the wedding packages, or we potentially could be right in the middle of an event. Please show courtesy to a venue and do your homework first. Have the venue send you information, and then schedule a time to tour to ensure that all you wish to see is available and your host can spend quality time with you. In addition, do not ‘pop up' and hang around at someone’s wedding so that you can see ‘what it will look like for your wedding.' I am sure you wouldn’t want a stranger doing the same” -Kassey Bussell, The Don CeSar

“The excitement of getting engaged can definitely feel like a rush, and one of the first things you want to do is tour venues and see your options. That is great enthusiasm, but remember that venues and vendors usually have busy schedules that don’t accommodate potential clients to walk in. There could be an event currently happening, or the department may be short-staffed due to an employee's personal reasons. Because of this, having appointments scheduled ahead of time keeps everything on track for them. When you ‘pop in' and expect a full showing or meeting, this could potentially throw their entire day off and affect another client in a negative way. Be courteous of everyone’s schedule, and be sure to ask if an appointment is required and when they are available. Also, remember that it’s not the responsibility of the venue or vendor to accommodate your schedule. This is their business, and they have business hours. Just like you want your business hours to be respected, they desire the same.” -Melanie Eubanks, Lemon Drops Weddings & Events

Mistake #5: Not Thinking About Overnight Accommodations

“Make sure the venue has hotel accommodations nearby for their out-of-town guests.  Also, a plus is if they offer transportation from the hotel to the area. Ask the venue if they have relationships with local hotels for room blocks.”  -Katy Martin, Coastal Coordinating

“Depending on the venue, accommodations and transportation are incredibly important to think about and provide. Does your venue provide these things, or will guests have to fend for themselves? If you have a lot of guests coming from out of town, it is usually best to get a venue where guests can arrive and stay for the duration of the event. This will eliminate the need for extra expenses like rental cars and full-price hotels. If your wedding has different locations for the ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception, think about the easiest way for guests to travel and look into possibly getting a trolley or sprinter van.” -Melanie Eubanks, Lemon Drops Weddings & Events

Mistake #6: Becoming “Venue Poor”

“Unfortunately, many times, couples fall in love and book a venue without doing all of the prep work. Beyond having a wedding date in mind, you want to create a rough guest list and a working budget, including your priorities. Couples can book a venue that is too small for their actual guest list or overspend, leaving themselves ‘house poor’ with no money for the things that are important to them.” -Tammy Waterman, Special Moments Event Planning

“As a planner and florist, we have encountered couples who have booked amazing venues that are notorious for having high minimums, but when it comes to the other aspects of the wedding like décor and flowers, they now have a very limited budget to work with. This is what we like to call being ‘venue poor.' It’s very much like being ‘house poor' in that you have a beautiful space to reside in but no budget left to fill this space with much of anything. If your venue is aesthetically pleasing and you don’t feel the need to bring in much else, that’s perfectly fine, but if your dream is to have large flower arrangements and a ten-piece band, make sure you do your research and budget this in. We have seen plenty of couples who book historic and grand venues but then can’t meet the minimum for flowers and décor. The venue is important, but it is not the only factor of your wedding.” -Melanie Eubanks, Lemon Drops Weddings & Events

“There are so many things to consider when you are looking for a venue. The venue sets the tone for your entire aesthetic and day. One of the most important things to note is to not go ‘venue broke.' This is when you spend almost your entire budget on the venue alone, and then it leaves you with little to nothing for your other vendors. It is so easy to fall in love with a venue you cannot afford; pushing the limits so that you can be there puts you in a bad spot when planning for other vendors since you have no money left. This is a common mistake couples make, so pick a venue that works with your budget and not against it!” -Delaney Driver, Wilder Mind Events

“Choosing a venue before understanding all the different aspects that go into planning a wedding and the costs can be disastrous. Most people have no idea how expensive it is to plan a wedding. If you don’t educate yourself and have your budget itemized from the beginning, you can spend too much on the venue, leaving you having to make difficult and disappointing choices later.” -Karen Cerboni, EventFull Weddings

“The biggest mistake I see couples make is that they fall in love with a venue and spend a majority of their budget just on that. Every other aspect such florals, photography, decor, etc. is then at a minimum, and they aren't able to get the entire look and feel they want because they overspent on the location.” -Carrie Wildes, Carrie Wildes Photography Art & Design

Mistake #7:Choosing a Venue that Doesn't Fit Your Style

“Choose a venue that goes with your vibe, your personality, and style as a couple, not what’s trendy or expected. If the trend is rustic barns but you’re more classic ballroom, stay true to that. The same goes for expectations. If your loved ones are hoping for a traditional formal ballroom but the two of you are more of an urban edgy couple, say no to the ballroom and find yourself a hip spot.” -Karen Cerboni, EventFull Weddings

“When looking for your dream venue, keep in mind your overall aesthetic and how it will fit. Lean into the venue, colors, and decor to enhance your overall look. If the room has lots of creams and whites, you can go with any color, and it will look great. If the room has more blues or greens, you would want to lean into that and accentuate it so that it matches and looks cohesive together. This is a way to help save a little as well, so you’re not re-creating the whole aesthetic of the room and changing everything.” -Katy Martin, Coastal Coordinating

“Just like your wedding, each venue has a personality of its own. If there is a style for it, there’s a venue to match, and determining your wedding style will help make choosing a venue easier. Choosing a venue that doesn’t fit your aesthetic means clashing visuals and more work (and money) on your end. If you want a light and airy magic garden vibe, the last place you want to have your wedding is in a space that feels modern and industrial. It will take a lot of effort to transform the space into what you're envisioning. Get a venue that works for you, not against you.” -Melanie Eubanks, Lemon Drops Weddings & Events

“Not all venues are equal. For example, some include chairs, tables, and linen, while others may just include the space. Another may have an on-site representative for the duration of your event (or just at the beginning and end). Choose the venue that best fits your vision and size versus what is available solely online. Don't forget restaurants or converting a space. We had our wedding reception in an airplane hangar that was decorated, and tables/chairs were brought in! We recommend couples consider all options available before selecting a specific location. Often, many couples will feel limited to venues seen online after searching wedding-specific websites only. If your wedding guest count is fewer than 35, consider a private room or section of a restaurant versus an all-out wedding reception. This saves money and involves less planning while keeping the location near the ceremony/lodging. Others, with a creative flair, may consider converting a space i.e. recreation centers, The Lions Club, American Legion, VFW, Moose Lodge, etc., that are nearby and are often in a nice location/waterfront. These types of venues are not allowed to advertise to maintain their 501(c)(3) status; however, they are often well located, budget-friendly, and have more flexible options if you intend to decorate yourself.” – Brandon Wheeler, Gulf Beach Weddings

Gold Geometric Diamond Wedding Ceremony Arch Ideas | La Florida Ballroom | Downtown St Pete Venue Red Mesa Events

Beige, Boho Downtown St. Pete Wedding | Red Mesa Events | Memories by Lindsay | Breezin' Weddings

Mistake #8:Not Understanding the Difference Between Full-Service and Rental Only Venues

“You might be able to find a venue that is a blank slate and very affordable, YAY! However, if they provide nothing, this is a big factor to consider. Bringing in your own tables, chairs, linens, etc. can be a big added cost and a big headache if you don't know what you need. Understanding exactly what is expected of the venue and of you is going to help you know how to plan best moving forward!” -Delaney Driver, Wilder Mind Events

“Is your desired venue four walls and a ceiling, or is it all-inclusive? When you're venue shopping and receiving all these quotes, make sure you don't compare just the end price. What amenities are included? Are you going to need to rent everything for one venue that costs $2,500 and nothing for the other venue that includes it all for $9,000? Compare line by line what your venue includes and any additional charges so you know exactly what you're getting in the end! -Leigh Wilson, Creative Loafing

“There are so many different venues to choose from, and we, as wedding planners, like to work with clients from the very beginning of their planning process to assist with the search. The first thought running through a couple's minds is what style venue they envision getting married at. This is very important! However, the aesthetic is just one key part of the process. When choosing a venue, it is necessary to remember your budget. A space that enhances your theme is wonderful, but if it is a blank slate, then remember that decor, florals, and rentals will drive the cost up. Gathering proposals from venues that are full-service, as well as venues that you will need to rent your own items, is helpful for seeing the big picture for your budget. With so many trending color schemes and locations, it is important to remember your wedding day is about the two of you and to stay authentic to what represents you best!” -Lauren Gertz, MDP Events

Mistake #9:Thinking Your Venue Coordinator is a Wedding Planner

“We can’t tell you how many times we have had a floral consultation and have been told, ‘My venue comes with a coordinator.' We understand the lingo can get confusing, but just because your venue has a coordinator does not mean they will coordinate your wedding or help you with the planning process. A venue coordinator is, as the title says, a venue coordinator. Their job is to make sure that everything on the venue’s part is going smoothly. This could be ensuring doors are open at appropriate times for vendors to arrive, setting up items that are included with your venue rental, and making sure vendors are following the rules of the venue. This does not include handling your wedding décor, coordinating your wedding party during the ceremony, or booking any of your vendors unless they explicitly say so. When booking your venue, always ask what the responsibilities of the venue coordinator are and see if they recommend a wedding planner to handle the aspects of the event that they do not. Don’t assume that your venue coordinator will step up and take on responsibilities that aren’t theirs.” -Melanie Eubanks, Lemon Drops Weddings & Events

Mistake #10:Having Too Many Locations

“The Tampa area has numerous beautiful venues that accentuate beach weddings, garden weddings, church weddings, specific venue weddings, and more. One thing that couples sometimes don't think about is keeping it to just one or two venues in close proximity. When the couple has to travel from the getting ready location to the ceremony location, to a third location to take photos, and then to their reception at a final venue, it becomes very stressful. I have witnessed couples get flustered over their family or wedding party not being at the right location on time, which resulted in losing time for photography. My advice to couples is to decide what their vision is and find the best way to choose the venue and area, keeping any other locations nearby.” -Amber McWhorter, Amber McWhorter Photography

“If you're looking to have multiple locations i.e. ceremony at a garden and reception in a hotel ballroom), think about the logistics of moving guests and your wedding party and try to keep the locations close and allow for just the right amount of time in between. If the locations are too far apart, this will likely mean that some guests may decide not to travel to the ceremony/reception and will only make it to one location. This can also complicate timing and mean that your reception will start later and possibly cut into your rental of the space. As a rule of thumb, try not to have the distance between spaces be more than 10-15 minutes, and if at all possible, provide transportation. Also, don’t leave too much time in between events as this can disrupt the day and discourage guests.” -Melanie Eubanks, Lemon Drops Weddings & Events

“If you are planning your wedding ceremony at a house of worship, be mindful of the distance to the reception venue you are considering. If it's too far, you might have guests that skip the ceremony or get delayed/lost in traffic.” -Tammy Waterman, Special Moments Event Planning

Bride and Groom In Front of Southern Estate | Tampa Bay Private Estate Venue Legacy Lane Weddings | Photographer Limelight Photography | Videographer Priceless Studio Design

Elegant Burgundy Fall Wedding Inspiration | Legacy Lane Weddings | Limelight Photography

Mistake #11:Not Having a Back-Up Plan

“Always prepare for the unexpected. Even if you know for a fact that it will not rain, prepare a backup space just in case. Especially if any part of your wedding is outdoors and taking part in the state of Florida; unexpected rain is a specialty here, so always ask your venue if there is a backup in case of inclement weather and how short of notice they need a decision. Some venues make a rain call the day before, while others go up to hours before the event. You don’t want your wedding remembered as uncomfortable because all of your guests were wet for the entirety of the day.” -Melanie Eubanks, Lemon Drops Weddings & Events

“We see couples forgetting plan B. They can get hyper-focused on one aspect of a venue or another, such as a lawn or garden, and don’t typically think about having a backup plan for weather and the unexpected. We recommend working with the venue to make sure that plan B is built into your contract so that day of you know that no matter what mother nature is doing, you are going to love every moment of your wedding day. Wedding planners are pros at creating contingency plans while keeping in mind your overall vision, eliminating any guesswork or bad surprises.” -Jessica Ralph, Parties A' La Carte

“Outdoor venues are beautiful, but weather can be unpredictable. Not having a solid backup plan in case of rain, excessive heat, or cold can greatly affect the comfort of your guests and the flow of your wedding day. A beach wedding without a backup plan could result in a ceremony drenched by an unexpected downpour, leaving guests, the bridal party, and equipment soaked and miserable.” -Claire Augello, Beneva

“The biggest mistake a couple can make when choosing a venue is not confirming a plan B for rain/weather. When having a Florida wedding, you must keep the weather in mind: heat, rain, wind, and sometimes even hurricanes! You want a venue that has a nice backup plan that you still would love if you had to use it and that the staff for the venue has a strong game plan to move ceremonies or the whole event if needed!” -Chloe Darling, Coastal Coordinating

“Two of the biggest mistakes a couple can make when choosing their wedding venue is not having the guidance of a planner and not looking at plan B, the inclement weather option. Obviously, we are always rooting for the main option, but we live in Florida. Vendors and couples, especially this wedding season, experienced the worst of the worst weather we have had in the month of December this past year. It is great to have a positive expectation about it rather than it completely ruining the day. It also helps to know about it and love it during our design process. We are obviously not catering to the full idea of it, but at least we can know that it can and will mesh with our option B when planning option A! This goes hand in hand with the other mistake of not having a planner involved. Your planner will be the one to bring this up! Having guidance and full support from your planner is needed and always appreciated!!” -Kelci Zicconi, Kelci Leigh Events

“Choosing a venue that doesn’t have a built-in backup plan can lead to unexpected additional costs in the event of inclement weather. You may end up having to rent a tent or, worse, moving the event entirely. Make sure you know what the backup plan is, and if there are additional costs involved, you factor that into your decision.” -Karen Cerboni, EventFull Weddings

Mistake #12: Choosing a Venue that is Too Small

“Use the three-quarter rule. Venues want to maximize revenue by filling a reception space, but that might make the seating a little closer than you’d find comfortable or a smaller dance floor than you’d like. For a guest list of 75 guests, you might consider a venue that accommodates at least 100 for a seated reception.” -Tammy Waterman, Special Moments Event Planning

“Couples often overlook the size of their guest list when choosing a venue. It's essential to select a venue that can comfortably accommodate all guests. Choosing a venue that is too small can lead to overcrowding. From a photographer's standpoint, this will greatly impact your reception photos: if it's too small of a venue, it will be very crowded with difficulty moving around from table to table, especially if the couple wishes for those photos. While on the contrary; one that is too large can make the event feel empty.” -Valentina Rose, Valentina Rose Photography

“Many couples fall in love with the aesthetics of a venue before considering its capacity. If a venue is too small, you may end up having to trim your guest list or compromise on space for entertainment and seating. Alternatively, a venue that's too large can make your wedding feel under-attended and lack intimacy. Imagine choosing a quaint, rustic barn that fits 50 people comfortably for a 100-person wedding. Not only will it be cramped, but it could also pose safety issues.” -Claire Augello, Beneva

Mistake #13: Not Allowing Enough Setup Time

“Most wedding venues will rent for a certain period of time i.e. 4, 6, 8 hours. etc., and they expect the setup, reception, and takedown to be complete in that time frame. Remember, this is a venue you've never set up at before, a high-stress environment compounded by several other moving pieces to consider (ceremony, vendors, timeframes, etc.). It can be difficult to keep within the time allotted. If possible, we recommend renting the venue for the full day and paying for the cleanup; this allows you to focus on the decor, presentation, and coordination of the event with more flexibility and knowing that the venue is taken care of!” -Brandon Wheeler, Gulf Beach Weddings

“A good vendor team can really make a difference, but if you’re planning on having a lot of décor items set up, make sure they have plenty of time to take care of this. When speaking to your venue, ask what time vendors can arrive for set-up, and be sure to make this known to them. Some venues do multiple weddings a day, which means it's possible you’ll at least be sharing a ceremony space. With venues like this, your vendor team has a certain amount of time to be able to set up and tear down before the next event, and depending on the extensiveness of your décor and items, this could prove tricky. Always check with your venue what the set-up and teardown times are and if there are any time constraints for your vendor team.” -Melanie Eubanks, Lemon Drops Weddings & Events

Mistake #14: Not Understanding the Venue's Rules and Policies

“Sweet Saint Dolly Our Lady of Parton, can we make reading the contract before you sign a trend? Read your entire contract, all the clauses, all necessary addendums, and additional paperwork requiring signatures. Make sure you thoroughly understand each and every deadline and that you understand the contingency plans with regard to cancellations, insurance, liability, indemnification, and refunds or reschedules. If you don't understand a word or phrase, ask for clarification. You have a base price, but what fees are tacked on afterward? Is tax included in the price? Are there additional labor fees or set-up fees that aren't listed on the proposal? Is gratuity included? Does your venue require the use of specific vendors or planners that are an additional line item in your budget you weren't planning for? Are you required to use their specific valet company? Make sure you fully understand exactly what the costs are and how your wedding needs are covered. Any vendor should be more than happy to ensure you understand what you're signing. -Leigh Wilson, Creative Loafing

“With each venue comes a new set of rules and guidelines, and just because one venue allows certain things doesn’t mean another will. Make sure to ask for a list of rules and regulations for the venues you are considering and see if there are any deal breakers amongst them. Have a caterer that you already love, but the venue only allows for vendors on their preferred list, and they’re not on it? Want your reception to end at midnight, but due to sound ordinances, all music must stop at 10 p.m.? It's things like this that venue rules and policies can affect, so be sure to take this into account when booking your venue.” -Melanie Eubanks, Lemon Drops Weddings & Events

“We work with quite a few venues that aren't very strict and others that are very strict. Depending on what is super important to you, it is important to note all the rules the venue has before proceeding further. For example, a venue might have a strict alcohol policy and only allow for a certain amount of hours. It is important to ask these questions ahead of time! -Delaney Driver, Wilder Mind Events

“Always check to see what time the venue allows access to the bridal suite for getting ready. Often we see that brides are not allowed access until the late morning or afternoon, which, unfortunately, is not enough time for the bride and bridal party to have hair and makeup services done at the venue. It is a good idea to have a backup getting ready location in mind, such as an Airbnb or hotel, or see if the venue is flexible with the bridal suite access times.” Kelcey Yaeger, Adore Bridal Hair and Makeup

“Read the fine print before signing so you understand exactly what is and is not included. Some venues charge you for vendor setup time or may not have enough tables or chairs to accommodate your guest count, leading to rental costs. Make sure you know if you will have to pay additional for security, insurance, or for your rehearsal time. Know if the venue has preferred or required vendors. If your venue requires you to use certain vendors, you need to educate yourself on those vendors and their minimum budgets. The venue might meet your requirements, but the caterer and/or the florist, for example, may be well over your budget.” – Karen Cerboni, EventFull Weddings

“When choosing your wedding venue, ensure the venue allows for the level of customization you desire. Some venues have strict rules about decor, which could limit your creativity. Discuss the flexibility in terms of decorations, unique wedding vendors, lighting, and layout to make sure your vision for the wedding can be realized within the venue's guidelines. Whether it is having candles as part of your reception decor, draping, or even bringing in a food truck or another unique wedding vendor, be sure to run your ‘must-have' details past your potential venue coordinator!” -Tara Zimmerman, Limelight Photography

“It's a great idea to make a list of what you definitely need out of your venue, then create a short list of venues that fit your ‘must-have' criteria. If you know that you want to include your dog on your wedding day, it's crucial that you choose a venue that is pet-friendly. Depending on how you want to include your dog (ceremony, photos only, or staying on-site with you), you'll want to make sure the venue can accommodate this. Pro Tip: if your venue is NOT pet friendly, ask if they make exceptions when you've hired a professional wedding pet care company as they will likely be able to cover the venue under their pet-specific insurance!” -Kelly Nova, FairyTail Pet Care

“Venues often have specific policies and restrictions regarding decorations, catering, alcohol service, and music. There are also important logistical considerations when choosing a venue, such as parking availability, accessibility for guests with disabilities, and restrictions on vendors. It's essential to consider these factors to ensure a smooth and enjoyable experience for everyone. Couples should carefully review the venue contract and policies to ensure they align with their vision for the wedding.” -Valentina Rose, Valentina Rose Photography

“Failing to consider the logistics of a venue can lead to major headaches on your wedding day. This includes parking availability, accessibility for guests with mobility issues, and whether the venue has restrictions on vendors or decoration. A picturesque island venue sounds dreamy until you realize there's no convenient accommodation for guests nearby and the ferry service ends before your reception does.” -Claire Augello, Marketing Director, Beneva

Mistake #15: Ghosting Your Venue

Engage with the venue by calling them back, responding to their emails, and answering their questions. Even if you are no longer interested or they are not a good fit, just let them know. A customer service-driven and professional venue will keep reaching out to follow up and make sure they can help, but they don't want to become bothersome!

Quotes have been lightly edited for clarity and brevity.