Picking the right wedding venue is probably the single most important choice you’ll make when planning a wedding — because it affects everything else. It helps set the mood, the tone, it’s where people will dance and toast and celebrate. You want it to reflect you, your partner, your choices — but also be within budget. I know, it’s a lot. But it’s important not to get swept away by something that looks perfect as soon as you step into it — without taking a closer look. Here are seven mistakes to avoid when choosing a wedding venue, because it’s about a lot more than first impressions.

  1. Choosing A Venue Based Off Of The Pictures

You really need to go and look at the venue in person — sure, something can look perfect on the internet, but we all know just how powerful photoshop can be. Make sure that you take a look around to see what it actually looks like.

  1. Not Looking At The Bathrooms

It’s an issue you might not even think about, but if the bathrooms are subpar then it can totally change an evening. Make sure there are enough of them and that they look great.

  1. Assuming You Can Make Big Changes

You need to ask what you can and can’t do as far as design. There’s nothing worse than putting down a huge deposit assuming you can make big changes — and then finding out that’s a no-go. Better safe than sorry.

  1. Not Asking About Repairs

Find out if they’re planning any major repairs or upgrades and when the work is being done — you don’t want your wedding to look like a building site, or worse yet, for the terrible sound of construction noise to override your sweet vows.

  1. Not Tasting The Food

If you’re getting your catering from the venue, actually taste the food. Food is another crucial component that can look great in the picture but be a total disappointment in real life. Set up a tasting.

  1. Not Asking About Payment Plans

Make sure you check with them about what payment plans are available. If there aren’t any, don’t be shy about asking if you can create one. Some venues can be really accommodating.

  1. Forgetting To Check When The Venue Opens

A tiny detail, but an important one — because you don’t want your wedding cake showing up at 9 am… only to discover the venue doesn’t open until noon. Make sure you know if the venue will be available to you.

And Finally… 

Once you think you’ve found the perfect venue — you’ve checked every bathroom and looked at the price breakdown — you’re not quite done. If you want your wedding to run as smoothly as it possibly can, you need to ask the venue these seven very important questions:

  1. Do you need insurance? Do your vendors need insurance?
  2. Are you responsible if anything breaks?
  3. Is there a bathroom attendant—do you need to provide one? Do you have to refill toiletries or will the venue handle it?
  4. Will the venue box your wedding cake for you at the end of the night? If not…make sure to assign your planner/coordinator to the task.
  5. Will they assist with guest seating?
  6. Ask what you need to do at the end of the night for the venue—are you responsible for cleaning up?
  7. Can you drop items off a week before the wedding to get it out of your way while you are prepping for the wedding?

I know, it’s a lot. But it’s crossing every “t” and dotting every “i” that makes the real difference. Finding the perfect venue and knowing exactly how things will work on the day will take off so much of the pressure. Because when it comes to the actual wedding day, you want to be able to enjoy it if you are doing all of the work!

Happy Wedding Planning!