How to Pick the Perfect Wedding Venue

Photo by Kenny Louie 1 available under a Creative Common Attribution-license
Photo by Kenny Louie 1 available under a Creative Common Attribution-license

There are many decisions you will be making in the plans for your wedding. Although each is important in its own way, nothing is more central and significant than the wedding venue. Your decision to consider places will be based on some major themes and many smaller ones. The main criteria are your budget, location, number of guests, ambiance, and flexibility to work with your preferences and vendors. It is important to remember: popular venues get booked months in advanced.

The detailed questions for you to consider  are listed in the Perfect Muslim Wedding Planning Kit. However to help you get started and give context, here are things to think about:

  1. Determine the timing. What season are you looking at? Does it work for you, your spouse, families and key people e.g. distant relatives, the Imam who will be conducting the wedding etc.
  2. What month and day of the week. Most weddings occur around the weekend. As Muslim weddings depending on the culture can be quite elaborate, they may span over a few days.
  3. Most venues offer similar rates for Fridays and Sundays, with Saturdays carrying e.g a 10-15% premium. There are pros and cons of each day. Friday gets the activities going, Saturday gives everyone a buffer Sunday to recover and or do other wedding related customs. Sundays, besides being lower cost than a Saturday, allow you to get eg the Nikah addressed earlier.
  4. Think about public holidays
    • New Year’s Day, January 1.
    • Birthday of Martin Luther King, Jr., the third Monday in January.
    • Washington’s Birthday, the third Monday in February.
    • Memorial Day, the last Monday in May.
    • Independence Day, July 4.
    • Labor Day, the first Monday in September.
    • Columbus Day, the second Monday in October.
    • Veterans Day, November 11.
    • Thanksgiving Day, the fourth Thursday in November.
    • Christmas Day, December 25.
    • Think about Muslim holidays and events. Eg Eid ul Fitr at the end of Ramadan and Eid ul Adha on the 10th day Dhul Hajj based upon moon sightings and/or calculations.
  5. Visit potential venue sites if possible around the time and day of your planned reception. This is usually lunch or dinner time. Take notes, bring your digital camera. Note everything of significance. Imagine you are the guest.
    •  What is it like finding the place?
    • How is the drive up to the reception hall?
    • How is the parking?
    • What is the walk from the parking lot to the reception hall like? Is it easy to find?
    • Does the entrance look grand?
    • Does the reception hall feel spacious and with help from the decorator give you the ambience you are looking for?
    • How are the restrooms?
    • How comfortable are you with the event manager? If you or your planner will be working with them, is the chemistry good?
    • Consider the logistics. Will they work for you, your guests and vendors?
    • As you start visiting venues with key members of your family, you will start being drawn to some as finalists and others will get crossed off your list. You won’t be able to get everything in one visit so allow for follow-ups.
    • Besides capacity and availability, your budget and their fees need to be on the same page. Once you are serious about the finalist venues, see what you can negotiate either in price reduction or including certain things.
    • It is OK to go non-mainstream with a venue e.g. museum, golf course, botanical gardens etc. As with any other decision there will be trade-offs you will make, e.g. how much you take on versus the venue. Just be aware of them and make it a conscious choice.
    • Before you sign on the dotted line read the contract. Understand change and cancellation policies. Pray your Istikharah as with any major decision you want to invoke Allah’s blessings.
    • Last but not least ask lots of questions. A comprehensive list of questions for venues and vendors is listed in the Perfect Muslim Wedding Planning Kit.

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