Design Tips: Finding the Perfect Space
When you begin the event design process—whether that be for a dinner party or wedding or corporate event—you should always begin at the same point: with your space.
Choosing your venue is the most foundational choice you'll make—both from a design and logistics perspective. Why?
Thinking aesthetically: When you choose a space that has good, healthy bones and a lovely physique, even the most simple of design compositions are powerful. Typically, starting with a beautiful canvas means it will take less fuss (and less funds) to make it happen. Venues also tend to have a pre-written aesthetic. By the very nature of how they're composed, they'll help you determine your design direction.
Thinking practically: your venue dictates so much of what you are able to do. Budget, guest count, location—even down to the detail of who you're able to work with. Getting the space right will put you on the path to getting everything else right, too.
As you dive into looking for that perfect environment, take these along as a cheat sheet: our "5 Tips for Selecting the Perfect Space" as well as "20 Questions to Ask Your Venue."
Happy hunting, friends.
5 Tips for Selecting the Perfect Space
1. Know your vision.
Knowing what you love and value is always crucial when making decisions. If you don't come to the table with firm footing, you can easily be swayed by momentary excitement and shiny baubles. There are plenty of amazing spaces—the question is which one is right for you? Do you want an outdoor venue? Do you want the design to be contemporary or traditional? Do you want the space to feel open and airy or truly intimate? Consider items like these first so you can visit venues with a clear goal.
2. Know your non-negotiables.
Similar to knowing your vision, you have to be clear about your non-negotiables. Does the venue need to be close to downtown? Do you need a realistic rain plan? How many people are you going to host? When you get excited about a space, it's easy to say, "We'll make it work." And while that's all fine and good at the beginning, it will become a pain later on. Know your non-negotiables and stay true to them.
3. Be realistic about your budget and what your venue really costs.
Numbers are rarely fun, but (if you can even imagine) they'll become less fun if you ignore them on day one. Since the venue is often your first choice, it's often your first cost. Set the tone from the beginning by being mindful of your budget. Also, be informed about what a venue really costs before you sign the dotted line. While the base fee might look good, there can be additional fees that will be tacked on later or vendor requirements that will greatly increase your final fee.
4. Ask all the questions.
Be educated about the spaces you're visiting. If you haven't ever rented a venue before, it can be difficult to know what to ask, so we've compiled a list of "20 Questions to Ask Your Venue" below. Be sure to ask everything, even if you're not sure the questions are relevant to you. Being armed with all the information will help you make the best choice.
5. Don't rush it.
Too often I've seen people choose the wrong space because they're worried they won't find anything or their date will be gone. Rushing into a foundational decision out of fear is never the right first step. Take the time to get to know your options before making a final choice.
20 Questions to Ask Your Venue
- Is my date available. If not, what other surrounding dates might be available?
- What is the venue rental fee, and what is included in this charge?
- What is your payment structure?
- Will I be charged for any additional fees/services in addition to the rental fee? (Think: cleaning, security, parking, venue manager, etc.)
- How many hours is the venue rental for? Does this include set-up and breakdown time?
- What is the fee for additional hours?
- What is your cancellation policy?
- Can I "hold" a date? If so, for how long and is anything required?
- What is your capacity (both seated and standing)?
- Do you have any layouts you can share from previous event set-ups?
- Do you have your own sound equipment and speakers?
- What is the backup plan for rain or inclement weather?
- Do you have any decor restrictions we should be aware of?
- Do you have a list of approved or recommended vendors we can use?
- Do we have to use your approved vendors? If not, is there anything we need to take into consideration when bringing vendors in?
Food & Beverage
- Do you have an in-house caterer? If so, what is the food and beverage minimum?
- What are the consequences if we don’t meet it?
- If you have an in-house caterer, do you have a sample menu/invoice we can see from a previous client? (This will help you better understand how they structure their catering fees, including service staff, gratuity, etc. This is one of those costs that can creep up on you.)
- Do we have to purchase alcohol through the venue, or can we bring it in ourselves?
- If we can bring our own alcohol, is there a corkage or service fee?