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Whether you are planning a wedding, corporate event, or party, the venue you choose plays a major role in your event’s success. Event venues often compromise a large portion of your party budget too; so, it’s important to choose a space wisely. To find a venue that will leave your guests raving, Better Business Bureau recommends the following tips.

  • Settle on your location first. Where your event will take place will affect all the other details for your party. Start by choosing a general location that is easy to access for your guests. If people will be coming in from out of town to attend your event, make sure there are appropriate accommodations and transportation options nearby. If this aspect of your event is flexible, choosing a venue in a small town or rural setting can be more cost effective than a venue in a larger city. Finally, if the event you are planning is a wedding, think about whether you want the ceremony and reception to be held in the same place. If not, you’ll need to choose two separate locations.
  • Being flexible on the date may save you money. If the timing is flexible, you may be able to choose a low-demand season or day to save some money, especially if your event is a wedding. Keep in mind that summertime is peak wedding season and weekends and evenings book faster than weekdays, mornings, and afternoons. Venues may have open dates on their calendars they want to fill, so if you can provide a few date options you may be able to snag discount pricing as you negotiate with the venue.
  • Take a guest count. Make a list early on and come up with a good estimate of how many people will attend your event. The National Press Club recommends choosing a venue where your target attendance will be just under capacity limit, but never over. If the space is too small, guests will feel crowded and there could be capacity issues. If the space is too big, your event will seem under-attended and empty. In addition, knowing how many people will attend your event will help you as you budget for the event.
  • Set your budget. Think about how much you can spend on an event space and keep in mind that services and amenities, such as catering, are usually separate expenses. Determining your budget will help you narrow down your venue options.
  • Think about the style of the event. If you are aiming for an ultra-glamorous event or a highly professional one, a rustic barn in the country may not be your best choice. Think about the ambiance and aesthetic that best fits for your event, as this will set the tone of the event for your guests.
  • Start an online search. With several of the big decisions made, you can now start searching for venues in your area that can accommodate your event. As you do, make a short list of venues you are interested in learning more about. Don’t forget to look up any venues recommended to you by friends or family members.
  • Research the venue’s business reputation. Consumer Reports recommends getting at least three references for any venue you are interested in and looking them up on org. In addition, it’s always a good idea to do an internet search with the venue name followed by “reviews” and “complaints.” Don’t rely solely on reviews you read on the venue’s website. Find reviews on third-party websites instead.
  • Tour potential venues. There’s no substitute for visiting a venue in person. See the place with your own eyes to make sure any photos you saw on the internet aren’t exaggerated or misleading.
  • Research services and amenities. Some event venues are all-inclusive with chair and table rentals, catering, and audio-video materials, while others are more of a blank slate. Find out what is included in the rental price, and what you’ll need to bring in yourself. Also, be sure basic amenities, such as bathrooms and parking are available for your guests.
  • Think about customer service. Pay attention to how customer service is handled. You’ll want to work with a venue that makes you feel comfortable and taken care of, especially if venue staff will be taking care of catering or other services and interacting with your guests.
  • Read contracts, including the fine print. Before you sign the dotted line, read the contract carefully. Pay close attention to cancelation policies, deposit returns, dates and times, cleanup rules, and any other important details. Never do business with an event venue that doesn’t have a contract for you to sign.
  • Make your deposit with a credit card. It’s always best practice to make payments with your credit card. If you have any problems with the venue later on, charges will be easier to dispute.

For More Information

Check out this BBB articles for advice on hiring a photographer and a DJ. If you are planning a wedding, read up on wedding planning and  average wedding costs.