Finding the Perfect Wedding Venue

At Grand Rapids Bride, we exist for one reason: to connect people! We love to help brides and wedding professionals find each other! Back when I was planning my wedding, there were no truly comprehensive resources for finding the perfect vendors. It felt really overwhelming and it’s the main reason that Grand Rapids Bride was started in the first place! Wedding planning is supposed to be fun and exciting – not frustrating and confusing.

Now that you’re engaged and you’ve defined your guest list and started either thinking about your budget or putting your budget numbers on paper, it’s time to find the perfect venue and wedding professionals for your dream day — with as little stress as possible!

First things first, where? Picking your venue is usually first and foremost. There are so many options to choose from: rustic barn? elegant ballroom? intimate restaurant? outdoor tent? And beyond the basic location, there are so many other things to consider: can they accommodate the number of guests you are inviting? Do you have special dietary considerations? Can you have your ceremony there as well? Do they have an outdoor reception space?

Luckily our Venue search page offers a filter tool to help you narrow your search quickly, depending on what matters most to you.

Here are some things to keep in mind as you begin your search:


reception and ceremony set up inside the ballroom of cityflatshotel
karyn may photography, ballroom@cityflatshotel

Having your guest list defined prior to your venue search is critical. You want to make sure that your guests are comfortable and not cramped. Don’t underestimate how many “yesses” you might get. People probably like you more than you think they do! This will help you narrow down your search quickly to a manageable list of spaces. In addition, the more spacious the location, the more décor and floral design may be needed. If all of these costs combined exceed your budget, then you may need to look at more affordable spaces. But, if they don’t…BOOM! You just found a venue for your short list!


buffet with food on plates no chafing dishes

Plated meals vs. Buffet meals vs. Food stations can make a huge difference in price, as well as the feel of your wedding. Make sure the type of food service you choose reflects the vibe or theme you are trying to project, as well as your budget. Many venues that offer in-house catering require food and beverage minimums in addition to their rental fee; some may just require the minimum spend. Be sure to clarify what the venue’s policy is. And, never forget to include the tax and gratuity in your budget; these are the not-so-little things that can come back and bite you later!


table settings with linens from special occasions in grand rapids michigan
amway grand plaza hotel

Does the venue’s rental cost include tables, chairs, linens, serving pieces, and flatware? Or do you need to rent your own? Those that include it might cost more upfront than a venue where you need to rent your own; this is where you’ll need to get an estimate from a rental company to see how they compare when you’ve added on the price of renting things for yourself. It’s also important to note that a venue’s included rental items are often more basic (white linens, standard flatware, banquet chairs, etc.), so you may still end up paying more to rent items that are a better fit for your vision.


bride and groom cutting wedding cake by bella e dolce at wedding reception under tent at the inn at stonecliffe on mackinac island michigan
dan cox photography, the inn at stonecliffe, mackinac island

It’s so easy to get lost in the world of Pinterest boards. But stay realistic and true to what reflects you best as a couple. And stick to your budget. You can do this!

Happy Wedding Planning!

xoxo, Kelly


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