photographer, design, & floral: Kehoe Designs | plantscapes: Floral Exhibits | technical production: Black Oak Technical Productions | venue: The Geraghty in Chicago
The Best of | National | Celebrations

How to Choose Your Wedding or Event Venue Without Ever Leaving Your Couch

There’s no doubt that shelter-in-place orders and social distancing protocols have made it more challenging to plan weddings and events. But, like so much else during this global pandemic, the planning must go on. Life’s milestones won’t stop — and neither will the accompanying celebrations. 

When starting the wedding or event planning process, many people start by choosing their venue. And while venues aren’t currently hosting large events, they are still offering event dates, providing guidance, and booking celebrations for the future. 

Luckily, you don’t actually have to see venues in person to make an informed decision. PartySlate provides a social distancing-approved approach to selecting your venue, thanks to unique platform features and interactive technology.

Selecting a venue that’s right for your event can be overwhelming, whether you visit options in person or browse virtually from home. This 5-step guide will help you narrow in on venues and event spaces that are right for your individual celebration. Even when social distancing comes to an end, you can use this list — and PartySlate tools and features — to whittle your list and select venues for all of your future celebrations.

1. Narrow down your venue options

Search by location with the interactive map

If you want a venue in a specific neighborhood — for example, a venue that is walking distance from your hotel block or a venue that’s a short commute to the airport for your out-of-town guests — the interactive map within the directory allows you to quickly populate venues in a certain location.

Enter your target guest count

Your expected number of attendees can often dictate which venues are right — or will work at all — for your event. Entering your guest count range helps you narrow down your options, while populating venues and event spaces that can accommodate a wide range of capacities.

Filter by specific venue type

Some newly-engaged couples dream of getting married on a rooftop terrace, while many corporate planners turn to hotel ballrooms or museum event spaces to accommodate large groups. No matter what type of venue you’re looking for, you can select the types you are interested in to further narrow down the directory results.

For example, utilize all three methods above to find a venue in Midtown in New York. You can easily filter for a rooftop/terrace/outdoor event space for 150-200 guests, which will yield a list that includes featured venues SECOND., 620 Loft & Garden, The High Line, and more venues to explore.

2. Select your required venue features and amenities

Discover venues with specific amenities

Which amenities are most important for your event? While you are still in the directory, choose from the long list of amenities to narrow down your search even more. For corporate events, breakout room availability and A/V capabilities might be the most important amenities, while valet parking and handicap accessibility may top the list for a wedding.

Consider flexible catering and bar options

Many venues require the use of their in-house caterer or will urge you to select from their list of preferred caterers, but we understand that many people want flexibility and creativity when hosting a wedding or event. Discover which venues allow off-site caterers, BYOB for your bar, and more.

For example, searching in Los Angeles for a venue that has top-notch A/V capabilities and breakout rooms, as well as allows off-site caterers to provide meeting or event fare, returns results including featured venues City Market Social House, Candela La Brea, LA River Studios, and more venues to consider.

3. Save your favorite venues to track your short list

Create a virtual shortlist of venues

Once you narrow down your venue list through the directory, make sure you save them to an Idea Slate to keep track of your favorites. Simply click the heart icon to add a venue to your shortlist. You can even add notes of specific features you love or ideas you want to remember for future planning.

Share with family, friends, and your event team

Once your shortlist is complete and your notes have been added, simply copy and paste the Idea Slate link to share with your parents, siblings, or friends to get their thoughts and feedback. If you are working with an event planner, this is an easy, fast, and most visual way to collaborate.

For example, this birthday party venue idea slate includes featured Chicago spots that have a dance floor, including The Roanoke, Revel Fulton Market, Revel Motor Row, and more. It joins slates we’ve created on rainbow-themed events, pool party inspiration, and so on.

4. Tour your favorite venues with help from photos and videos

See photos of each event space

Venues not only list each of their event spaces, but they also include multiple photos of each event space, as well as the seated and standing capacities. Viewing photos of empty event spaces — from ballrooms to bars — allows you to see every feature that makes a space unique.

For example, Brooklyn’s Wythe Hotel has 7 spaces with multiple images of each.

Browse photos of real events in your venue

If you find it difficult to browse empty event space photos and envision your own celebration coming to life, not to worry: you can also see real event photos from past celebrations that were hosted in that venue. Stunning décor shots, lighting and draping enhancements, dance floor placement, and smiling guest photos that were all shot in that venue can inspire your own celebration.

For example, Perez Art Museum Miami has 18 posted events — ranging from weddings and galas to Bar and Bat Mitzvahs and corporate events.

5. Contact venues directly through PartySlate

Confirm pricing and availability, then book through the platform

Your shortlist has been created, you shared it with your event team, and you even took a few virtual venue tours. Now it’s time to contact each venue to receive pricing, date availability, and book your event. It’s easy to message each venue directly through the PartySlate platform, either straight from the directory as you are browsing, or once you click through to an individual profile page. For your convenience, the venue’s response will go straight to your email inbox.

For example, this message to The Schoolhouse venue in Dallas will ask for helpful information including event type, size, and preferred date.

Bonus: Build the rest of your event professional team

See who has worked at your venue

So you have selected a venue. Now what? As you think about hiring the rest of your event team, you may want to consider who already has experience working at your venue. From event planners who know the ins and outs of the event spaces, to photographers who know all the best backgrounds for the perfect shots, you can start the search for the rest of your event team by considering who has worked at your venue in the past.

For example, 41 event professionals have worked at Hilton Chicago — including event planners, design/décor/floral companies, photographers, and more. Having already worked at the venue, the listed event teams will have an in-depth knowledge of the space.