October 16, 2021

Tips for Picking a Wedding Venue & Date

We picked our wedding venue! After debating the destination we wanted to have it in, we finally picked to have it in Anthem, Arizona (see end of blog post for photos of the venue)! There are many pros and cons for having a wedding in a different country, but ultimately this was the decision that made the most sense for us and we’re so excited! Now I’ll take you through my process on how we picked the perfect location and date for our special day.

How Many People Do You Want At Your Wedding?

This may seem like a simple question, but trust me, it’s more loaded than you think. When I was young, I dreamt of wanting a big wedding that felt more like an event than a celebration. I wanted it to be big, grand, and royal! But adult Alexis feels differently. After hearing stories about larger weddings and being a guest at a larger wedding, I realized that I wanted a more intimate feeling to our special day. We decided on a 40-50 person wedding. I don’t want a wedding day where I’m saying “hello” to everyone and still not get to everyone throughout the evening. I want a celebration where we’re around our closest friends and family, the people who we love and who love us.

What’s Your Budget?

Now that you know how many people you want at your wedding, this is a very important part. I’m going to be blunt here; weddings are expensive AF. The average spend on a wedding is about $30,000 in Canada and the USA. Our budget for everything is between $20,000 to $25,000 and we’re having a small wedding. People who have 250+ person weddings can end up spending closer to $80,000; just important to keep in mind. When you establish a budget, you can start moving forward with researching venues!

Venue Searching

To be completely honest, I found this a tad stressful mainly because once a venue hears the word “wedding” everything is very expensive. You should first try to narrow down where you want to have your wedding. To give you an idea of the variety of locations that Logan and I were thinking about having our wedding, we looked at venues in Kelowna, Calgary, Mexico, Bahamas, and Arizona. We originally thought Kelowna would be the place we would get married, but food and beverage minimums alone were $30,000 for most of our preferred venues and that didn’t make sense for us since we wanted a small wedding. Plus, our family is spread out around Canada and the U.S, so we realized we could realistically have it anywhere. After making an extensive pros and cons list, we settled on having the wedding in Arizona for a few reasons, (1) lots of Logan and I’s family either lives there or goes there for the winter, (2) it worked best for us and our immediate family to do the wedding in February (3) Logan and I’s first international trip together was to Arizona so it has a special place in our hearts, (4) it’s gorgeous!

Here are some important questions you’ll want to ask the venues when searching:

“What is the ceremony and/or reception fee?”

“Are there food and beverage minimums to use the space for an event?”

“What decor comes with the ceremony/reception fee?”

“What is the rain plan in case of bad weather?”

“What is the minimum and maximum number of people for the space?”

“Do the prices change if I want to have the wedding on a weekday vs. weekend?”

“Do the prices change if I decide to have the wedding in the high season vs. the low season?”

I’m sure there are many other great questions, but these were the main ones that helped me decide if the venue would be a good fit for me or not. When those questions are answered and they fit your budget, schedule a tour to see the venue! If it’s a destination location, ask for a virtual tour where they show you around via FaceTime, Zoom, Skype, etc. We did our venue tour on FaceTime while my parents were in Arizona viewing the venue for us.

Once you decide you want to move forward with the venue, they will send you a contract that lists all of the expenses with a grand total. Each venue is different but for our venue, we have to put 25% of the total down right away to secure the date. At three months before the wedding, we have to put down another 25% (equalling to 50% of the total now), and then a week before the wedding, the other 50% is owed as well as your final guest count. As I said, every venue is different so be sure to clarify this.

Picking A Date

This was a little tricky for us too! The most important thing to us was that our VIPs could make the wedding. We obviously want our immediate family members to be able to come as well as our close friends (the wedding party). Since I’ll be starting my practicum in May 2023 until December 2023, I didn’t want to do it during this time. We have an accountant in the family who has their busy season in March/April, so we picked February since it seemed to work best for everybody. Plus, who doesn’t want to escape to Arizona for a week in February?! We also looked at weather trends and February in Arizona has an average temperature of 20ºC-25ºC, so we thought it was perfect. I think the hardest part about this is to understand that you won’t be able to please everyone. But we were lucky to have come to a pretty good solution that will work best for us and our VIPs.

Well there’s a little wedding update for you guys! I know a lot of you have been asking how it’s been going and I’m so happy to say, I feel so good with our choice of venue location and date! It's crazy how fast time is flying, so exciting!!

A couple photos from our venue (photos are grabbed from weddingwire.com)