How to Choose Your Wedding Venue

Lindley Farmstead at Chatham Hills – Westfield, Indiana


When it comes to planning your wedding, one of the most crucial aspects is setting a budget. Just like you wouldn’t buy a car or a house that is beyond your means, it’s important not to look at venues outside your budget. Overspending on a wedding venue can have a domino effect, leaving you stressed and struggling to plan the rest of your wedding within your budget.

To ensure that you stay on track financially, it’s essential to have open and honest conversations with everyone who is contributing to the budget. This will help set realistic expectations and avoid any surprises down the line.

It’s worth noting that typically, wedding venue and catering expenses will consume around 30-40% of your overall budget. Keeping this in mind while allocating funds can help you make informed decisions without overspending.

PRO TIP: Ask the venue to run a sample invoice for what you can expect to pay. This is a great way
to see all of the expenses together, especially if a venue provides other services like the bar.

Artisan Acres Estate – Noblesville, Indiana

Guest List

When it comes to planning an event, picking the right venue is crucial. Before diving into the search for the perfect location, it is essential to start with a well-curated guest list. This includes not only your own list but also considering any additional guests from your parents’ side.

Once you have a comprehensive guest list in hand, it becomes easier to narrow down your venue options based on capacity. Limiting your search by capacity ensures that you choose a wedding venue that can comfortably accommodate all of your guests without feeling overcrowded.

PRO TIP: Remember it isn’t about your overall budget but actually the per-person investment. A
wedding for $50,000 and 100 people is different from a wedding for $50,000 but 250 people. As the guest count increases, you may need to shift your budget allocations and adjust your expectations accordingly.

chicago illuminating company
Chicago Illuminating Company – Chicago, Illinois

Your Vision

What is the style of your wedding? It might feel like an obvious question, but it is an important
one. When looking for a venue, look for a space that will enhance your overall feel and theme. For modern weddings look at art galleries or warehouses. These venues often boast sleek lines, exposed brick walls, and ample space for creativity. If you are looking for natural elements, look for outdoor spaces, botanical parks, and historic estates. Ballrooms and hotels are often the go-to options for couples seeking a classic and sophisticated atmosphere. I recommend coming up with 3-5 design words to describe your style as you brainstorm ideas.

Punch Films – Fort Wayne, Indiana

Spacial Needs

What type of wedding do you want to have? Will you be getting married on-site? Are you having a
cocktail hour? Sit down meal or buffet? You will want to ask the venue if they have the spaces to
accommodate all of your event needs. If you want to get married on-site, ask if they have a
dedicated ceremony space they usually use. You will want to fully understand the flexibility and
restrictions of each venue. If they use the same space for the ceremony and reception, ask how a
room flip works and the limitations it would impose on your design? Ask where guests will go
during the room flip? Could any area be affected by poor weather? Do you want it to dance into
the wee hours of the morning? Many places don’t allow events to run past a certain time, because
of local noise ordinances.

white willow farms white wedding barn
White Willow Farms – Arcadia, Indiana

Guest Experience

It is important to also consider your guests’ experience when selecting the location. Hotels and
venues located in downtown areas are quick and easy to get to but also book up faster. Consider
the number of guests you have that might be traveling and their needs. They will need room
accommodations for the night or weekend. Guests who have to travel further to get back to their
room for the night tend to leave earlier. If your venue isn’t centrally located consider providing
transportation to help guests navigate in a new city, allow them to be more comfortable, and
encourage them to stay longer.

TinSmith – Madison, Wisconsin

Your Experience

First, it’s your big day and you should enjoy it! We focus on making the experience enjoyable so
you can attend your wedding as a guest and not have to worry. Consider the work and time
commitment that you want to put in. If you want to keep it simple, then a wedding venue that includes
additional services, such as catering or rentals, might be a good fit. There will be significantly
fewer options and fewer decisions.

If you have a particular design in mind, then you might want to consider a more flexible venue to bring in more vendors you need to create your vision. Additionally, if your venue is further away from home (or a destination wedding), plan to take some days off work for site visits and meetings. Make sure you plan your time and communicate expectations to anyone involved such as your partner
or family members.

The Wilds – Bloomington, Indiana

Time of Year

When you think of your wedding, is there a time of year that comes to mind? Consider the season
or even the month in which you want to get married. Are you flexible? Many venues book up over
a year in advance. Knowing a season or even better, the month you want to get married will help
to narrow down your choices.
It will also be beneficial to talk to your partner about how long you want to be engaged. Some
couples choose to have a longer engagement to have the venue they desire, while others will select
their 2nd or 3rd choice to have the date they want.
Google the sunset time on your desired date and location. Why is the sunset important? If you
want to get sunset pictures which are usually 30-45 minutes prior you won’t want the sunsetting in
the middle of your ceremony, dinner, or even first dance.

PRO TIP: Consider how the weather will affect your plans and talk through what happens if it
rains. If you aren’t comfortable with your rain plan, then I recommend changing the venue. Midwest weather can be unpreditable!


We’d love to help. Lisa VanHorton is a thoughtful, award-winning wedding planner based in Central Indiana. With a passion for creating unforgettable moments, Lisa goes above and beyond to customize every aspect of your special day. Lisa understands that your wedding is a reflection of who you are as a couple, and she takes great pride in curating an experience that captures your vision. Whether you dream of an intimate garden ceremony or a lavish ballroom affair, Lisa’s expertise and attention to detail will bring your vision to life.

IG: @lisavanhorton_weddings


Are you ready to bring your wedding vision to reality?