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Choosing your wedding venue is one of the biggest decisions you’ll make during the planning process.

The Knot is a great tool to help a bride to find her favorite reception venue and wedding vendors. We would love to share some tips from this site.

A Roomy Fit

It sounds obvious, but when it comes to what you should look for in your wedding venue, this is so important. Make sure the room or space is large enough to accommodate the number of people on your guest list. The site may look enormous when it’s empty, but wedding essentials—tables, chairs, a buffet, bar, the band or DJ setup, the dance floor—will fill it quickly. And, of course, your guests will need some elbow room. The best way to assess the size of a site is to go see it when another wedding (with a similar guest list size) is all set up. On the other hand, if you decide that a special site, like your favorite bar or your parents’ garden, is the only place you want to celebrate, you can always work backward and tailor your guest list to match the venue.

Eating, Drinking, and Partying Areas

There should be logical places within the venue where guests can eat, drink, mingle, and dance. When you’re standing in the space, try to envision where each activity would happen (especially if your ceremony will also be there). If a room is too small to separate into sections accordingly, you might feel cramped. If space has an odd configuration (like it’s shaped like an S, for example) that could potentially compromise your party’s flow. We always recommend working with an event planning pro to help you map out space if you’re having trouble. Also, note the locations of columns or other obstructions in the room—will they block your guests’ views of the dance floor, the cake table, or where speeches will be read? The right things to look for in a reception venue are privacy and lighting

Privacy

Privacy varies widely by the venue, as does the importance couples place on it. If you’re having a daytime event in a public spot, such as a park, beach, or botanical garden, be prepared for strangers to trek past your party. They may smile, wave, and come by to offer their good wishes. If you’re okay with that, book your dream venue. If not, consider a more secluded alternative like a lawn on a private estate or golf course.

This caveat isn’t just for outdoor weddings, though. Banquet halls and hotels often hold more than one affair at a time. If there’ll be other events going on simultaneously in nearby rooms, you may hear karaoke-loving guests belting Madonna through the walls or guests may meet them over the hot-air dryers in the bathroom. If this bothers you, try to schedule your wedding when there won’t be another one next door. If that’s impossible, visit the site on a dual-party night and see how the sound carries—and whether there are any other major problems before you make a decision. Alternatively, you could rent out a restaurant or gallery for your reception so your party is guests-only. Ask about available security at your site to keep wedding crashers at bay.

Lighting

Light can make—or break—the mood and space. If you’re marrying during the daytime, double-check that your venue has plenty of windows. Who wants to spend six hours in a dark room when the sun is shining? If you’re planning an evening affair, make sure the room’s not too dim—or that the lighting can be controlled for the big entrance, dinner, and dancing. If you’re marrying outdoors, say, at dusk, will you be able to set up candles or another lighting if necessary?

To ensure your venue has good lighting, we also recommend visiting the site at the same time of the day you’ve chosen for your wedding. Even if the space looks romantic by candlelight, you may be surprised by the sight of that outdated carpet during the day. If you only check it out in the evening, you’ll also miss a chance to see how the sunlight streaming through floor-to-ceiling windows completely transforms the room.

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