O Factors to consider before choosing a venue nce couples become engaged and share the good news with their friends and families, the next step is to begin planning their weddings. While couples must make a myriad of decisions during the wedding planning process, perhaps none is more significant than where to tie the knot. According to The Knot 2016 Real Weddings Study, the average cost of a wedding for couples who married in 2016 was $35,329. That’s a sizable amount, and a big portion of that was spent on the wedding venue. The Real Weddings Study found that couples spent an average of $16,107 on their wedding venues in 2016. That figure easily dwarfs the next biggest expense ($6,163 for the engagement ring) for couples tying the knot. Because the wedding venue comes with such a potentially high sticker price, couples should give ample consideration to a host of factors before choosing where to get married. who hope to follow in the footsteps of many 2016 brides and grooms may need to book their wedding venues well in advance. Those who can be more flexible regarding their wedding dates may find it easier to book their dream venues. INSURANCE Ask about the venue’s insurance policies, including the policies the venue has to protect itself. In ad- dition, ask if the venue requires couples to have their own wedding liability insurance for protection in the event of injury, property dam- age or incidents related to alcohol. Couples may also want to make the investment in cancellation/postpone- ment insurance, and some venues may even require it. SIZE Until they can agree on a guest list, couples might want to delay even looking for venues. However, some couples might want to first look at some venues so they can de- termine just how many guests they can afford to invite. Whether they’re hosting small affairs or large parties, couples should choose venues that can comfortably accommodate all of their guests. If possible, look for venues with multiple reception areas, which might allow for some wiggle room if the guest list grows or dwin- dles during the planning process. AVAILABILITY Some couples might have an ideal time of year they hope to get married. Some even know the exact date they hope to get married. While that can help with the planning, it can also limit couples with regard to their venue options. Some venues may be booked for as much as a year or more in advance during peak wedding season. The Real Weddings Study found that the most popular months to get married in 2016 were October and September. Couples 14 Dream Weddings FINANCIALS It’s easy for couples to be focused on the bottom line when choosing wedding venues, but it’s also important that they get a complete grasp of the financials before choosing a wedding venue. Ask about the amount of the initial deposit and if that deposit is refundable. In addition, ask when the deposit is due and when each subsequent payment is due until the balance is paid in full. This can make budgeting easier and plan- ning less stressful. Couples should have fun choos- ing their wedding venues while recognizing that certain factors must be given ample consider- ation before signing any contracts.