Choosing the Perfect Venue for Your Colorado Wedding

by Aleta Switzer

The date is set for your Colorado mountain wedding, and now it's time to decide on a location. There are plenty of options for wedding venues in and around Summit County and Vail, Colorado, but they tend to get booked up quickly, especially during peak seasons.

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We understand that planning a wedding can feel overwhelming, so try to take things one step at a time. Choosing a venue should be one of the first steps because you can then rest easier knowing you at least will have the date and location nailed down. 

When it comes to choosing a venue for your wedding, it's helpful to know what kinds of questions to ask. With that in mind, here are 10 tips that will help you find the perfect venue for your wedding. 

1. Know what you want - Would you like a traditional venue such as a church, hotel or beach, or would you prefer something more unique like a castle, antique store, mountain top or even a private island? Are you looking for an indoor or outdoor ceremony? Do you want an all-inclusive type contract or are you just looking to rent the space?

2. Book early - Wedding venues, like florists, are quick to fill up their reservation books. As soon as you know what you want, start doing your research. If you choose a unique location, are there any permits you need to have for the ceremony to take place there?

3. Word of mouth -  Ask friends and family who have recently been married about their venues. Did they like it? Would they recommend it? What would they have done differently? Were there any surprises?

4. Check and double-check - Once you have some venues in mind, do a little research. Check with the Better Business Bureau and conduct an internet search for non-biased reviews. Collect as much information as you can before creating your short list. 

5. Know your needs - Do you need something to accommodate a large guest list or just a simple ceremony? How much "getting ready" space do you need? Would you like the wedding and the reception to be at the same place? 

6. Budget - What is your venue budget? Before you get your heart set on a specific location, eliminate any place that is not within your budget. If you absolutely want to make a certain venue work, first figure out where you will make cuts to have it fit.

7. Walk-through visits - Once you have narrowed your list to three or four venues, it's time to schedule some visits. As you visit each place, pay attention to things like space, lighting and ease of access. While there, take LOTS of notes and pictures (if photos are allowed). Jot down your impressions, any concerns or potential problems you notice, and the answers to all of your questions.  You may think you will remember everything, but it's easy to forget which feature went with which venue, and you have a lot to keep track of right now. Your notes will really help as you make your decision.

8. Vendor requirements - Do the venues have recommended vendors? Are they required or merely suggestions? Do you get a discount if you use their vendors? Will they be able to fill all of your needs?

9. Packaged services - Are catering and decorating services part of the package? Is this something you want, or do you already have other specific vendors you would like to use? 

10. Review your contract - Make sure that you understand all the fine print in the contract. Also verify that any verbal promises made are included. Don't be afraid to negotiate. Is there a lower rate if you decorate yourself? You might even consider hiring a venue planner to negotiate for you.

Finding the perfect location can be a lot of work, but it will feel great to have it all squared away. And frankly, it's hard to go wrong with any venue here in the Colorado mountains, where we're surrounded by breathtaking beauty every day of the year.