5 Mistakes to Avoid: Searching for a Wedding Venue in Northern Virginia

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There are so many things to think about when considering a wedding venue! If you’re trying to find a northern Virginia wedding venue, there are a few additional things to keep in mind!

1. Not Thinking about the Sunset Time!

Knowing when the sun will set during your ideal season to get married will be helpful in knowing whether a venue’s rental hours will work with your ideal wedding day timeline. If you’re like many couples getting married in northern Virginia, starting your ceremony anywhere between 4:00-5:30pm is a common time to begin.

For venues that may function in other capacities or may be open to the public as a winery, there may be certain limits on how early you can get access to the venue and start your wedding (unless of course you buy extra time!). Let’s say you have your heart set on an outdoor ceremony in late Fall. The difference in choosing a wedding date of November 4th and November 14th could mean the difference of having the sun set at 6:00pm vs. almost 5:00pm. Choosing the later date could mean you may have your ceremony during sunset time and it will likely be dark while you’re trying to take pictures outside afterwards.

2. Not Considering the Weather in Northern Virginia

You may have thought about the weather you want to have, warm Spring temperatures with the sun rays on your back, or cooler temperatures with a light breeze in the Fall. But do you know when the temperatures change specifically in this area of Virginia?! To continue on with our example of November weddings, we’ve found that in northern Virginia, the first two weekends of November have been really great temperature wise! A little chilly but not frigid. Wait one or two weeks longer and it has felt much chillier! Same with April — early April can be hit or miss. You might get cooler temps of low 50s or even high 40s. But waiting a few weeks longer could mean you may end up with temperatures in the high 60s or even low 70s in late April.

You can also take advantage of these differences in weather, as many wedding venues have “peak” and “non-peak” wedding seasons depending on the month. July and August are HOT! We often see those months with non-peak wedding pricing. This could make a venue you love less expensive during those months. We’ve also increasingly seen warmer temperatures in September. Early to mid-September weddings basically feel like August, and late September weddings are JUST starting to become a bit cooler like the Fall temperatures many couples love. Is having a certain type of weather a top priority? If not, ask the venues you’re considering whether they have non-peak pricing for colder winter months or late summer months.

3. Wanting Only a Saturday Date

The days of only getting married on Saturdays are gone, my friend! Even Fridays and Sundays aren’t the only alternative days to consider! Have you thought about a Thursday? A Monday, even?! If there’s a dream venue just out of reach for your budget, ask the venue if they have any special weekday pricing. If they don’t, ask whether they’d consider it! If you’re willing to think outside the box, it could mean huge savings for your budget. You could then re-allocate your venue budget to other priority vendor categories or just save the money all together!

As weddings come booming back, prime Saturday dates might also not be an option. If you’re not willing to wait an extra year or two until Saturday dates become available, weekday availability could be a great way to have your wedding in the month and year you want. The people who really care about being there to support you on your big day will come, even on a Monday. We promise!

4. Failing to Ask about Plan B

We all hope to have amazing weather on our wedding days. Whatever your idea of the “perfect” weather is, try imagining the complete opposite happening on your wedding day. Would you still love the venue you want to book? What if it rains? Snows? What if the wind is out of control and all of your decor is at risk of blowing away and your hair and veil end up wrapped around your face? What if it’s super hot and temperatures are unbearable and not safe for your elderly guests?

Not knowing what your backup plan would be for your venue is definitely a mistake to avoid! Do they even have a backup plan? Ask what past couples have done when there’s been inclement weather. Are you happy with the options you’d have? If not, we recommend finding a venue where you’ll love your Plan B. You should be happy with where you’re saying I Do, even if your wedding team needs to move things inside. There’s nothing worse than planning a wedding for months only to end up unhappy with the day because you had to pivot to a backup plan you hate.

5. Not Understanding Rules about Preferred or Exclusive Vendors

Many venues will have preferred vendors they recommend to their couples. These are vendors the venue has had a good experience working with and who they trust to take great care of their couples! The key is knowing which, if any, vendors a venue requires you to select from for any given vendor category. While lots of venues have a preferred vendors list, they’re usually just recommendations, but the couple still has the option to select other vendors.

Does your venue have a list of required vendors? We most often see this with caterers, where a venue will give couples maybe five choices of vendors they can choose from to cater their wedding. Sometimes a venue will have an exclusive caterer who is the only vendor able to cater events at the venue. So do some research into these vendors prior to booking the venue! It will save you money later on so you don’t pay extra fees to be able to work with vendors you prefer.

Bonus Tip!

One extra tip as a bonus! Consider the proximity of your wedding venue to lodging accommodations. Then think about the experience you want your guests to have. Is your ideal venue far from hotels/alternative lodging options? You might factor in providing guest transportation if the hotel is too far from your venue. We want all of your guests to get home safely at the end of the night!

In particular, many northern Virginia barn or winery venues are located down winding gravel roads without street lights. Imagine your guests trying to navigate those roads after four hours at your open bar! Keep that in mind as you think about your priorities. Once you’ve booked your venue, get to work booking those hotel blocks next! Hotels go super fast in some parts of northern Virginia — especially Loudoun County!

Photo Credit: E. Losinio Photography


Want more helpful tips on searching for a wedding venue? Read more here!

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