Things to Consider Before Touring a Venue

January 31, 2023

Planning Tips | Things to Consider Before Touring a Venue
by Kim Moody with The Estate at River Run

#1 – Is the venue within your budget?
This is the single most critical factor to consider before touring! If it’s out of reach financially, you shouldn’t get your hopes up, or begin your wedding by causing a family conflict. Connect with potential venues on your “favorites” list and speak openly with the wedding experts of those venues. Honesty is always the best policy. Venues are generally 12-25% of your budget depending on what’s included in the rental contract.

#2 – Does the venue set the tone for the type of event you are planning to host?
The style of the property you choose for your celebration will intentionally lay the groundwork for the backdrop of your experiences. Does it fit the theme or the vibe you are hoping for your guests to experience? Choose a venue that shows off your personality.

#3 – How many venues do you want to spend your day in?
Traditionally speaking it is common to have a ceremony venue that is separate that a reception venue. What works best with your vision and the type of event you want to host? Are you planning to get ready at your ceremony venue? What is the travel time between each of these locations? It’s important to consider the wedding day timeline, calculating the distance and time needed for travel. Ultimately you will be compensating videography and photography to travel to multiple locations. Consider when family group pictures will be taken since transportation is often provided this will also increase the logistical time needed for getting people to and fro.

#4 – Are you hoping for the ceremony, cocktail hour, dinner, and dancing to be at one location? Is it important that those spaces are unique? What is the weather contingency plan for rain, snow, or extreme temperatures?

#5 – Does your venue provide adequate getting-ready spaces for both sides of the wedding party?
Consider the size of your wedding party and the amount of space and restrooms those individuals will need. Are showers available? Is there space for hair and makeup to be done on-site? What amenities are available for your wedding party?

#6 – Are there places for your families (parents, grandparents, siblings etc. that may not be in the bridal party) to get dressed? Will you feel like you still have your own space even if they are on-site? Can they gather in their own spaces while you do the same in yours? Are there quiet and comfortable places for them to prepare themselves for the emotional rollercoaster of their children getting married?

#7 – Are the “getting ready” spaces attractive for video and photos or will you have to leave those areas to find an alternative background? You will be investing in videography and photographs, so charming, clutter-free, backdrops could be very important to your wedding album.

#8 – How early can you set up?
Some properties allow for as little as “one hour” prior to event time for setting up. Consider what your team of vendors will need. Intensive setups for luxury events sometimes require days of preparation. Consider deliveries, floral installations, lighting and production needs, AV wiring and testing, band soundchecks, and preparation and set up by the catering team. The setup of bars alone, including the icing of beverages, can easily take a couple of hours. Inquire with your venue about early setup options once you have an understanding of what they include as part of their “standard” rental package.

# 9 – What is your max guest count capacity?
Selecting the right sized property should allow easy adjustments in the case of inclement weather. Capacity limitations should be considered before touring facilities. Create your guest count and assume you will have 80% plus or minus accepted RSVPs and look for a location that comfortably holds the number of people. Speak with the venue prior to touring, often the “advertised” amount of what their property can hold, is not the same as what is most comfortable for the guest’s experience.

# 10 – Noise ordinances are important considerations to ask about prior to touring
because they are set by local municipalities – not the venue themselves. If your goal is to dance until 3 am, connect with your venue contacts at your top locations and find out the rules that govern their locations.

# 11 – Weather contingencies are one of the “least romantic” considerations
of choosing your wedding, and reception venues, but for the actual weekend of your event to run smoothly – it’s a critical part of the process. Hopefully, rain, sleet, hurricane, extreme heat, or other inclement weather will not get your long-anticipated day down…But if it’s in the forecast, you will certainly be glad you made that consideration prior to booking. How much indoor (conditioned space) does your venue have? What are covered options for outdoor aspects of the day (tents, pavilions, etc.)? With your rain plan options, are additional restrooms or lighting needed? Will fans, AC units, heaters, tent sidewalls, etc. be needed? If your rain plan is a tent, what will the guest’s feet be experiencing during a total washout – is the rain going to puddle under the tent during a thunderstorm? How close can buses or transportation get to the ceremony and reception sites for drop-off and pickups in inclement weather?


Last but, probably MOST important —

# 12 – Trust your instincts.
Once you’ve toured a few properties, compared the pros and cons, and made sure your top choice fits your wedding day vision, listen to yourself! It’s just like shopping for a wedding gown, sometimes you just “know”. The wedding industry experiences large amounts of turnover with employees – make sure you have all important information in writing if you are not working with the owner–operators at your facility. Choosing your venue sets the for so much of your overall event experience. It sets the visual style and formality for your wedding and reception, plus it sets the backdrop for your “getting ready” photos and video. The venue may dictate some of your other vendor selections, and it will set your guest count capacity for the comfort and safety of your guests.

Enjoy the process, try to be as contemplative as possible during the information-gathering stages, be diligent in touring your top choices, be transparent with your venue contacts in your process and booking timelines, and ultimately, lead with your heart.

Enjoy the journey!

Kim Moody is a Proprietress and Director of Events at The Estate at River Run. Kim is also the Lead Wedding Planner at the award-winning Kim Moody Design TM, a multi-planner design studio since 2004 that offers services exclusively at The Estate at River Run. Learn more at

Originally published in Richmond Weddings Magazine, November 4, 2022

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