How to Choose a Venue That Matches Your Values

There are already so many things to consider when it comes to choosing your wedding venue, throw in that eco-friendly word and things can get seriously overwhelming. But it can also be an important guiding factor in narrowing down your options, and, in some ways, the more specific criteria you have, the easier finding your dream location will be – providing you stay open minded!

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I honestly couldn’t even attempt to compress all of my thoughts on sustainable wedding venue selection into one single blog post. What I can do though, is summarise a few of my best tips, in particular those that help with the eco-friendly side of things, to help make sure that your environmentally conscious values can shine through with ease.

But is venue choice really that important? Well, you might be surprised. Pretty much everything stems from your venue selection. It’s the base for the whole event, and is the driving factor for things like guest attendance, vendor selection, and even the overall vibe of the day. Your venue (or venues) are the backdrop for the event, they set the scene, and for that reason should be treated with a huge amount of importance.

Glamping Wedding
Photo credit: Abi Hackling Photography

Let’s start with location.

Sure, you know the region or maybe you’ve even narrowed it down to the city or town that you’re searching in. That should be more than enough right? Well… maybe. It really depends on exactly what you’re after. As an environmentally conscious couple, you may be looking to lower your weddings carbon footprint. If so, reducing travel times for yourselves, your guests and also your vendors could be something that’s of high importance to you, and therefore, choosing a venue with easy access may be a high priority.

If the majority of your guests live locally to the venue the decision may not need so much consideration. But with guests attending from afar, perhaps even relying on public transport, choosing an easily accessible location is an easy way to ensure more of your guests can come (anyone else thinking group party bus to do the drop offs?). On the same note – proximity to accommodation can be just as important. Especially if it’s an evening celebration and alcohol is involved. You don’t want your guests feeling like they’re too sober to join in the fun, but you don’t want them driving home after having a few either. Knowing that you went out of your way to make their lives easier will make your guests feel pretty special too – it’s win-win.

So, we’ve got the guests sorted, but let’s not forget about the vendors! These are the people making your day run perfectly to plan and they deserve a little consideration too. Your florist, hair/make-up artist, photographer (the list goes on…) all need to drive out to your venue, some more than once! If you’ve chosen a spot where it’s possible to hire local vendors their transport won’t be such an issue – but if you’re a bit more rural and having to look further afield for the right people, not only will it inconvenience the vendors – chances are you’ll also be paying their transport costs too. Keeping transport to a minimum for this reason is not only good for the environment, it’s also pretty good for your pocket. And as if that wasn’t enough, you’ll get those bonus good feelings that come with supporting local.

Leaf Confetti
Photo credit: Abi Hackling Photography

Do they share your values?

An easy way to tell if a venue shares your eco values is to check out their website and see if they list any of their own eco-initiatives. Maybe they’ve banned the use of plastic based confetti onsite, or swapped all of their straws out for re-useable ones. Some venues may even boast of renewable energy sources like solar panels, or have food waste schemes that ensure leftovers are utilised and disposed of appropriately.

Sharing values may not seem super important, and perhaps it’s not. But it is often a good indicator that you’ll get along well and understand each other. Knowing this, and having a strong bond and trust in each other will ensure that things run smoothly and that you’re confident and stress free on the day. Of course, that’s not to say that you shouldn’t consider any venues that don’t visibly show environmental awareness. In many cases, the eco-friendly aspects that you’re wanting to use are easily implemented, and if you make the suggestion some venues will be more than happy to oblige or make simple swaps just for your day. All you have to do is ask! Just keep it reasonable, keep your mind open and be willing to help them with the implementation. You never know, you might just be the encouragement they need to make a permanent change! You do also need to remember that venues have their own values (and rules) that you need to adhere to. Always read the small print and ask questions if you have them. Any clashes between their values and yours should be discussed upfront, you really don’t want these coming back to bite you later.

Indoors vs. Outdoors…

I am a massive fan of outdoor weddings, as you may have noticed… I’m all about celebrating nature through events, and 9 times out of 10, being outside in the natural environment is the most fulfilling and beautiful way to do that. Unfortunately (and I’m sure you’ve heard this one before too) we really cannot control the weather. You could be the most diligent of hosts and research weather data for the area for many years prior to your event, find that it’s never once rained on that day, and then in some freak act of nature there’s a cyclone on your wedding day. You really can’t control this stuff. And even if that happens, chances are, you’re still going to be going ahead with your wedding on that day (and it’ll still be flippin’ awesome, promise!). BUT, only if you make sure to plan for absolutely any situation. Could it rain? Maybe snow is a possibility? Maybe excessive sunshine could result in guests coming down with heat stroke before the ceremony has even begun… Seriously, it could happen. Keep your options open, plan well, and make sure you can provide for yourselves and your guests, whatever the weather.

Glamping Village
How’s that for fog??
Photo credit: Anna Harrison

And last, but most certainly not least, does your venue suit your vibe?

Your venue should be a reflection of you, of what you stand for, and of what you want your day to represent. Sounds heavy – promise this is actually the fun stuff. You want it to be somewhere that you feel comfortable, but also somewhere that you feel special. Somewhere that excites you and makes you feel like you’re the luckiest person in the world.

How much decoration are you going to need to make the venue feel this way? As a general rule, outdoor venues can often require much less décor, but I think this is changing slightly as more people opt for outdoor lounge spaces, bar spaces, beanbags, dance floors, photo booths… the list goes on. And as I write this, I’m thinking of so many beautiful indoor venues that provide all of that stuff for you, and even have their own wall paintings, candles and fireplaces to make the venue complete, without any of your own additions. Either way, it can be as complicated or uncomplicated as you allow it to be – it all comes down to your preference.

The big one for appearance is to think about and consider all of the venues natural features and whether they will match the look you’re going for. There is absolutely no point trying to fight the venues natural vibe with your own décor, it’s much more efficient to compliment the natural vibe and use your additions to enhance, rather than hide the features of the venue that you’ve chosen. In the name of both saving money and the environment, the less of your own décor you have to add the better! Décor not only costs huge amounts of money but it also inevitably equals waste, and sure, it can absolutely be minimised by hiring or using only items that can be repurposed later, but in more cases than not, it still equals waste.

Choosing your venue is a big decision. Everyone has different values and finding what’s important to you will be the key to finding the right venue. Brainstorm, write prioritised item lists so you know where you’re willing to compromise, and don’t forget to consider the logistics like lighting, sound and capacity. But more than anything, enjoy yourselves! Imagine yourself in the space, picture what it might be like on the day, let your imagination run wild! And if it all just feels like too much, don’t be afraid to seek expert advice, this isn’t a decision that you have to make alone!

Got any questions or tips about choosing a venue?
Share your ideas in the comments!

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Emerald and Ebony – Planning Eco-friendly weddings in Taranaki and beyond.

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