Of all the endless choices you’ll make when you plan your wedding, probably one of the most important (short of choosing the right person to marry) is picking the right venue.

It’s seems simple, but the ripple effect from a good space impacts nearly everything: The right lighting means you look your best as you’re reciting your vows; good acoustics help the DJ sound better at the reception; and a convenient location means no one is annoyed because they got lost on their way to the party.

Plus, unlike the food or the best man’s toast, which you’ll likely forget not long after the honeymoon, the ceremony and reception venues will live on in every portrait and candid snapshot taken throughout the day. You’re literally going to be looking at these places for the rest of your life.

Of course, this item on your wedding planning checklist is also one of the pricier ones, so the pressure is on to choose wisely. Believe it or not, snagging a great venue is not only possible but also within your budget.

Get yourself prepared

Patio Seating, Fern

Photo credit: Catch Light Photography

The first step? Get yourself organized. I always say there are two types of people in the world: spreadsheet people and everyone else. This is one of those times you need to be a spreadsheet person. Create one and include all of the venue aspects that are important to you, like capacity, location, layout, type of facility, etc. You’re going to need an easily accessible document to keep track of the deluge of details you’re about to collect. And for those non-spreadsheet people, here’s a template you can use, courtesy of A Practical Wedding.

Next, get big-picture for a second and think about what kind of vibe you’re going for. I’ve been to black-tie weddings in ivory mansions and hipster-chic ceremonies in converted warehouses. Both equally elegant but very different tones. Kate Levy elaborates in this recent article:

“It’s usually a gut feeling and completely depends on the type of wedding you’re hoping to have. If you’re looking for a casual barbecue wedding, a historic, marble-laden hall isn’t the best fit. Or a black-tie barn wedding might not make those guests in stilettos and gowns very happy.”

Nailing down these choices from a high level is imperative before you start getting down into the details.

Don’t break the budget

Now you’re organized, but how do you keep your costs down? We host a lot of different kinds of weddings at our event space, so I’ve seen more than my fair share. Here are a few tips that may help:

  1. Make it a combo deal – Consider hosting the ceremony in the same venue as your reception. Not only will that automatically eliminate one of those to-do items, but you may be able to save some of your budget by eliminating an extra rental charge. We allow both weddings and receptions in our event space, and I can tell you that guests love the convenience of not having to drive to another location after the ceremony. Plus, the wedding party has all-day access to the facility, which includes the bride’s room and – soon to come – a special groom’s bus! We’re in the process of remodeling an airport shuttle bus to make a special hangout just for the guys.
  2. BYOF (Bring your own food) – See if the venue you’re considering allows you to bring in your own caterers and food for your guests (instead of being restricted to the venue’s choices). We allow our guests to choose their own (or we’re happy to help with our suggestions), which means you can shop around for the best deal for the type of meal you want to serve.
  3. Don’t be afraid to ask about discounts – Many venues will negotiate better rates for certain scenarios, guests counts, days of the week, etc. For example, we offer a discounted rental rate if the bridal party uses our in-house food and beverage services.

Whatever facility you choose, just be sure to provide as much detail as you can when securing your rental. That will allow the owner/operator to serve you the best—to make sure your wedding day is as stress-free and enjoyable as it possibly can be.

As for that DJ you picked, let’s just hope someone told him “no” on the Chicken Dance.


The Overland Park Ballroom offers a wide array of options for weddings of all sizes!


As a professional dance instructor and owner of Overland Park Ballroom, Amy Castro is proud to offer a unique venue for your upcoming wedding ceremony and reception. A 6,800-square foot venue with a romantic and modern style, and conveniently located in the heart of Johnson County, her talented event team is here to guide you through the planning process and make your dream wedding a reality that you and your guests will remember for a lifetime. Let her know your thoughts by tweeting @OP_Ballroom or by commenting on the Facebook page.