If you are just in the early stages of planning an upcoming event, you may be on the hunt for the perfect venue. Here are a few factors to keep in mind when considering your options:

You’ll want to take into consideration the physical location of your venue. If your guests are traveling from various locales, then picking something equi-distance might be wise to avoid lengthy commutes for everyone involved. If you’re offering a host/ open bar, then you’ll want to take measures to prevent drinking and driving. If your venue is situated close to major transit lines or offers accommodations on-site, these are bonuses! On the other hand, if you’re tying the knot on a remote farm in the back country, then you may want to hire a shuttle bus service to transport guests to and from a central location. You can even offer taxi vouchers for guests to get home safely (damn you, BC government… why do we STILL not have Uber available???)

For my wedding, all of my party hearty friends pooled together to rent a limo bus that dropped them off and picked them up at pre-arranged times and split the cost accordingly. This worked well for us, since the majority of our guests were non-drinkers, and it was a mid-afternoon affair where people weren’t getting blitzed. Safety of your guests is paramount!

Do you have any elderly or mobility impaired guests? Then you may want to avoid spaces that are riddled with stairs (and no elevator/ ramp in their place). You also have the option to rent collapsible ramps from medical supply stores for a nominal fee. You will also want to ensure that accessible washrooms are offered at your venue, and aren’t a hike from the central meeting space. When shopping for a wedding venue, we discounted several places right off the bat since we knew that certain key family members would not be comfortable.

In-House/ External Catering
A good chunk of venues out there offer exclusive, in-house catering without the option to hire an external caterer. If you had your heart set on hiring a certain company, then you will want to be mindful of selecting a space that allows for this.

As with most clients, them dolla dolla bills are always a factor. You may find a really cute hall in your local community that is dirt cheap compared to your other prospects… but what does it include? A bare hall with nothing but empty space is a great opportunity, as it offers a blank canvas to decorate how you see fit. The downside here is that you will need to rent every table, linen, chair, and coffee cup required. All of these costs add up very quickly, especially if you’re paying for the labor for the rental company crew to set up and strike all of these components. All of these accoutrements add up in cost, as well as add a considerable amount of extra work to organize. You’ll just want to make sure that you’re comparing apples to apples when considering different spaces.

Are you going for a casual and informal set up with kegs of beer? Then a ritzy downtown hotel ballroom may not be the right fit. You will want your venue to accurately reflect the style and formality of your event.

Be Creative!
If you’re not keen on the idea of hosting your big bash at a cookie cutter golf course or hotel ballroom, then try a more unique space! (By the way, I had two large wedding functions… one at a hotel and one at a golf course, so I am certainly not knocking either of these options!) More and more spaces that were otherwise not intended for hosting an event are now offering rentable spaces. Look into local breweries, libraries and farms for unique spaces that will offer a one of a kind setting.

Choosing the right space that meets your needs is key, as it provides the palette around which you will design and plan your entire event. Shop around, ask for reviews and recommendations from others you know, and always go for a site visit to see the space in person (photos can be awfully misleading!) Happy venue shopping!