Choosing a venue is one of the most important decisions you’ll make as you’re planning an event. The location combined with the decor will create the entire mood of your celebration.
Before you begin visiting potential spaces, first you need to know your guest count. Next, consider the style of your celebration and the style of venue you want — raw space, hotel or a museum for example. Will it be a cocktail reception or a seated dinner? These first two bits of information will help narrow the list of venues to visit.
An experienced event planner can also help you quickly create a short list to save you time. If you don’t have a planner, bring a family member or close friend to help you see things from another perspective and talk through all of your options.
Whether you’re envisioning a rooftop or a beach, a hotel ballroom or an iconic museum, there are a few things you need to keep in mind when touring a potential venue. As you do your walk-throughs, be sure to pay close attention and ask these 11 questions:
- Transportation Logistics — How will guests arrive? If via their own cars, is there ample parking at the venue or nearby or will you need a valet service? Does the venue provide valets?
- Set-up & Breakdown — When will you have access to the site for set up and how quickly does breakdown need to happen? Is additional setup or breakdown time available for a fee?
- Rentals — Are there tables, chairs and linens available at the venue? And are they in line with the style you envision for your event or will you need to outsource via rentals?
- A/V Capabilities — Do you plan to show a video or have presentations at your event that will require a microphone or projections? If so, make sure to ask what A/V equipment is available at the venue so you’ll know exactly what you might have to provide. Also consider staging and speakers.
- Cocktail Hour — If your event will have a pre-party cocktail time, is there a space separate from the main event area? Decide set-up details such as where you might place possible musicians, bars, buffet, seating card assignment table, guest book, gift table and other features.
- Coat Check — Considering the small details can help an event run smoothly and minimize last-minute re-arrangements. Will you need to provide a coat check?
- Restrooms – Are restrooms available onsite or will you need to provide portable restrooms? How many restrooms are in the venue?
- Power – How much power will you need for the band, lighting, caterers, etc.? Sometimes renting a generator is necessary.
If your event is a wedding, make sure to also consider:
- Ceremony Area – In terms of the ceremony, pay attention to how and where the altar will be set up. Will guests be seated in traditional rows, or is there flexibility for alternate seating arrangements? Also note where musicians will be seated and whether you’ll be able to run power through the area.
- Reception – Consider the logistics for your reception whether it’s a seated meal, buffet, or food stations, etc. How can you use the existing space to create a seamless flow for the event?
- The Afterparty – If you’re planning to have an afterparty, think about whether this will take place onsite and ask about options. If offsite, how will guests be transported?
Make a list of questions in advance so that you don’t forget to ask about things that are important to you. Take lots of notes and photos and gather floor plans that will help you compare spaces later.
To make your venue selection process more efficient visit PartySlate first to narrow your list. Each PartySlate venue profile will provide capacity for each event space and you can see hundreds of real event photos to envision how you can transform the room.
And don’t forget that the culmination of all your hard work will be a gorgeous, joyful event.