Lessons in Wedding Planning – Venue Selection

“Duh” I said standing in the hotel room as he was down on one knee, “obviously.” (this was my actual response to my fiancee’s proposal)

I have to admit I am not a girl who has dreamed of my wedding my entire life. I always thought I would get married and have kids, but I haven’t had some set fantasy of my wedding day in my head.

My initial thoughts on what I wanted:

  • guests: a small intimate wedding…we did a rough guest list…200+ people…no more small intimate wedding
  • location: something outside of the city, in the mountains, this is where we met…seems possible
  • a place we are able to make unique to us…not a wedding factory
  • budget! Somewhere that fits inside our budget, which had to increase a bit once we saw the guest list
  • date: on a Saturday, anytime between February and June…we were flexible and willing to work with what the venues had open since it would be less than a year before “I do”. Later, we found this was “off season” for weddings so there were some great discounts on both the venues and vendors.

So I pulled up google and started researching and emailing venues. Places outside of Denver that had a 200 person capacity and a Saturday available in our timeframe.

  • The first quote I got back for a venue and food (no booze, photographer, no dress, etc.)….50K! For one day! No thank you!
  • The first time we walked a venue, I thought, “wait a second you said it was $2,000 for the venue rental?” Apparently, that is just for the space, if you want the lights turned on, and access to the bathrooms, and oxygen to breath…those are all “extra charges” (I am over exaggerating, but any of you that have planned a wedding know what I am talking about.)

So I quickly realized I needed a spreadsheet to keep track of all the “extras” and what is “included” to really know what we are paying for and what venues are ACTUALLY in our budget.

4 Main wedding costs to consider when selecting a venue:

  • Reception venue cost and inclusions
  • Ceremony venue cost and inclusions
  • Catering (don’t forget tax and tip)
  • Alcoholic Beverages (don’t forget tax and tip)

Wedding Venue Checklist

Above is the spreadsheet I used during our venue search. It was SO helpful during the venue selection process to help us make a decision within our desired budget. Once we selected a place, I also used it to keep track of the ACTUAL costs of the big day.

It took us a month to find our venue, we ended up touring 8 places and decided to go with the 2nd place we toured.

These are the venues we toured:

I also bought an expandable folder (this one) to keep track of all of the information from the different venues and it will also serve as my place to keep everything during the rest of the planning process. Another option is a 3 ring binder (I love this one) or a wedding binder (this one has great reviews).

What were your experiences on your venue search?

Happy Planning!


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