If you’re shopping for a venue for your big day, you don’t want to leave home without reading this post! We know that finding a wedding location in the DC area is one of the toughest parts about planning a wedding. Searching for a location is one of your planning tasks that can quickly turn your enthusiasm into a stressful challenge. Today’s pro advice will certainly help you steer clear of any obstacles! Annee Gillett, Director of Catering, and Allison Manning, Catering Sales Manager, of Kimpton’s Hotel Monaco Alexandria and Morrison House offer some tips to help you in your venue search plus provide a handy-dandy list of questions to ask. Take it away, ladies…

Photo Credits: Robin Shotola Photography at Hotel Monaco Alexandria

One of the most crucial steps to planning your dream wedding is finding the right venue, but many brides often make the mistake of going into the process blind and without a real idea of what they are looking for. Before you even step foot inside a potential venue, there are certain things you want to know to keep you from feeling overwhelmed by the process. We’ve pulled together four easy steps that will put you on the path to success!

Envision Your Big Day

Before you start touring wedding locations in the DMV, it’s important to ask yourself what type of wedding you envision. Do you see yourself having a casual, outdoor reception with swanky centerpieces and savory food? Or are you a traditional couple who wants an indoor seated reception with a three- course meal? Start making a list of whatever your heart desires—this will help you whittle down the list of potential venues.

Start Off with a “Virtual” Tour

You have a vision, so now you can get online and searching local DC area wedding venues that best match your interest. Today’s brides and grooms are so lucky to have so many online resources at their disposal. Educate yourself by browsing through potential venue’s website, check out local wedding blogs (like United with Love!) for recommendations. You can even check out Pinterest to find photos of the venues you liked and check out past wedding photos and see if you can envision your wedding at that venue.

Also, the amount of wedding reviews that are posted online can provide a goldmine of information for you. Just by reading what other couples are saying can give you a realistic view of what to expect. (Editor’s note: Wedding Wire is a great source for vendor reviews.)

The Bottom Line: Budget + Guest Count

Venues have certain limitations that you just can’t get around. For example, they can only hold so many people, and there are often certain price minimums that will need to be met. You should have a general idea of your guest count and what you are willing to spend overall or per person. No one is a fan of sticker shock, so before you fall in love with the most amazing venue that you have ever seen, make sure it fits your budget before you visit. You don’t want you to leave broken hearted when you find out it’s out of your price range! Most venues will offer pricing online, and this will help you narrow down which ones fall within your budget.

Photo Credits: Michelle Lindsay Photography at Hotel Palomar

Time to Start Calling Venues! 

Congratulations! You have your “vision,” you have scoped out and researched potential venues online, and you have an idea of which ones can fit into your budget.  Now it’s time to go see the winning choices and go on a site tour! Here’s a list of useful questions we’ve pulled together that you can use when calling venues:

Venue Search Question Checklist

  • What’s your capacity?
  • What is your availability?
  • Do you have a “slow season” when you offer discounts?
  • Do you provide the catering?
  • What is your average price per person?
  • Can we provide our own food and beverage?
  • Do you have parking on site?
  • Do you require a minimum guest count or food and beverage minimum?
  • Are chairs/tables/linens included in the facility fee or package?
  • What do you require to hold a date?
  • When can you come in to see their venue?

With these tips, picking a venue should be a fun and easy process. Happy planning!


Thank you so much for sharing these venue shopping tips, Allison and Annee ! If you’re looking for your wedding venue, be sure to check out all that Kimpton Hotels and Restaurants has to offer in Washington, D.C. and Virginia!

For more to guide you during your venue search, be sure to check out other virtual wedding venue tours in the DMV, or browse for local DC area venue options and fabulous Washington, D.C. area wedding professionals.

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