Selecting a venue for your event is important in creating an enjoyable gathering regardless of the occasion. Whether you are planning a wedding, a birthday dinner, or a corporate event, the venue ultimately sets the tone for your guests. It also can sometimes dictate other aspects of your party. The venue you opt for can also take up most of your event budget. You might be sweating a bit about making this decision for these reasons.
But you don’t need to be overwhelmed by the venue search and decision process. We got it covered! The sooner you start planning, the better. Simply follow our list of to-dos, and you’ll find the perfect venue for your next event.
1. Brainstorm Event Goals and Considerations
When starting out to plan your party, whether it's for a social or business event, you want to consider what it is that you are planning. In other words, what is the party’s purpose or meeting’s mission? Are you celebrating a birthday of a dear relative, or have you been hired to plan a large corporate retreat? Is your event a few hours or a few days? Will you need to consider hotel accommodation in addition to your event? What kind of feeling or outcome do you want your event to create?
Part of this process is identifying your guest list or anticipated attendees. Whether you know your guests personally or you’ve been hired to plan an event, put together a list of guest considerations. Where are most of the attendees located? If you have a VIP attending, make sure you accommodate them. Are there specific seasonal or activity-focused opportunities you would like to incorporate? Any special wants or considerations as far as your guest goes? Use your knowledge and creativity in this process, and your event will stand out.
Jotting down some basic ideas and information will help you establish your event's components. You might start to brainstorm about things including:
- Location Ideas
- Budget and scope
- Approximate guest count
- Guest(s) of honor/speakers
- Desired date and timeframe
- Food and beverage styles
- Activity ideas/agenda
- Goals and needs of guests
2. Define Location of Venue
A crucial first step in narrowing down your venue is to determine the best spot for your event. Considerations for your event location include:
- where your guests are located
- budget parameters
- number of guests
- venue environment (urban, rural, waterfront, historical, scenic, etc.)
3. Establish your Budget
The amount you will spend on your event is a top consideration when looking for a place to host it. Once you’ve selected your top venues, make sure to explore ways to negotiate options to keep your costs on budget. Here are some high-level expenses to consider in your event:
- Food and Beverage
- Decor/Marketing /Branding
4. Venue Capacity and Number of Guests
Another crucial consideration to make early on is the number of people you’ll be hosting at your event. Certainly, you don’t want to squeeze your guests into a space too small, nor would you want to overpay for too large of a large space. Consider whether you would like to serve a seated dinner or prefer to host a standing cocktail party. Developing your event's scope and a rough estimate of the attendee numbers will make your venue decision much easier.
When planning your party, whether it’s a corporate or a social event, think about the overall theme or decor you wish it to have. Do you want the venue itself to be part of the overall aesthetic such as a seaside or garden location? Or, are you looking for a blank space to craft your vibes, such as in a conference room or industrial warehouse?
Once you have determined what you envision for the environment of your event, you can search for venues and look at venue reviews, photos, and websites to help narrow down your options.
As you review venue options, list the amenities, you would like for your event. Here are some example amenities that could be applicable whether you are hosting a corporate event or social party:
- Event packages
- Great staff
- Different room options and layouts
- Well maintained restrooms
- Decor/Branding and advertising opportunities
- Menu options (passed hor d' oeuvres, special items, etc.)
- Bar options (Champagne toast, special drinks, etc.)
- Wifi and tech amenities (plenty of outlets, A/V, etc.)
7. Parking and Accessibility
Speaking of amenities, this particular one gets its own callout. You cannot have a successful event if your guests can’t get there. Nothing is worse for a guest than arriving at an event and not being able to find parking. When considering a venue, ensure your attendees have somewhere to park their cars. You could also consider a venue’s access to public transportation.
There may be other areas to consider when choosing a venue, such as safe and accessible stairs, elevators, and access points. You could also determine if proximity to hotels and other area conveniences are deciding factors.
8. Venue Walk Through
Once you have narrowed down your choices, plan to visit some venues in person. Envision how you want attendees to experience the event. Consider bringing along a colleague or friend to walk through with you. Take some notes and come with questions.
9. Venue Decision and Contract Signing
Once you have made your decision and are ready to book your venue, you’ll want to consider the contract terms, specifically:
- Fees and payment schedule
- Food and beverage (minimums, outside catering)
- Restrictions and limitations
- Insurance and damage provisions
- Rescheduling and cancelation flexibility
- Preferred vendors
Ready to find that perfect venue?
Check out EventUp to connect you with amazing venues to help create the perfect event. You’ll be able to explore more than 15,000 restaurants, hotels, and unique venues and save time with advanced filters to narrow down your search. Start your venue search today!