Today's Bride

Real Bride Blogger, Abby – Choosing your Venue


This month, our Real Bride Blogger dives into choosing a ceremony and reception venue! She’ll cover factors like season, price, theme, guest list, and more! If you don’t have a wedding venue booked yet, keep reading for tips before signing any contracts!

Hello my wonderful brides and grooms!

I don’t know about you, but I have been LOVING the sunshine this past week. I’m so happy that Ohio has finally gotten the memo that it’s spring (and I’m sure all of you getting married in May are breathing a sigh of relief).

I’ve tried to use this cloudy month to get myself organized. I’ve made countless Excel spreadsheets and have even toured a few venues. I cannot WAIT to start making the big decisions for the wedding. So, I thought it would be appropriate to dedicate this month’s entry to choosing the right vendors. This process has turned out to be A LOT harder than I thought (anyone else feel this way??). I mean, there are so many wedding venues in the Northeast Ohio area alone! Do a quick search on the Today’s Bride website, and you’ll have 10 strong options in five minutes. And don’t get me STARTED on the talented photographers, florists, and makeup artists we have in the area. It’s absolutely overwhelming to sort through!

With all of these strong options, wedding planning can easily take over all your free time. (This coming from the woman who has literally said, “Sleep? Who needs it?” while searching through photographer’s websites for six hours). However, I think that a few of my tips and tricks may help you cut down on the planning stress (and yes, it does involve prioritizing sleep over the search for a perfect photographer).

Venue | Koman Photography | As seen on

Koman Photography

Figure out what kind of wedding you want, and where you’d like to have it.

In order to figure out what path to take, you need to know where you’re going to end up. Each vendor is a turn on the road to your final destination. Create a vision board. Look at Real Weddings on the Today’s Bride website to see examples of what other brides in the area have done. To get you started, try to answer a few of these questions:

  • What season are you looking at?
  • Do you want an indoor or outdoor wedding? (Maybe both?)
  • What’s your budget? (Typically, your venue and food costs will take up over half your budget. Keep that in mind when pricing things out!)
  • Is there a theme that you’re aiming for that will dictate some of the choices above? (For example, a rustic wedding with burlap and mason jars doesn’t work well with an opulent ballroom.)
  • Roughly how many people would you like to invite?
  • Where do you want to have the wedding?

My fiancé and I knew we wanted an outdoor wedding, so we decided on either summer or fall. We chose summer, mostly because I don’t trust Ohio’s weather and would be too afraid to have an outdoor wedding in October. After chatting with our parents, we knew our guest list would fall somewhere between 150 and 175. This gave us a great starting point when it came to choosing the venue and caterer.

Keep in mind: your venue dictates some of your vendor choices. Sometimes, venues have required or suggested vendors, which could be a great starting place if you’re feeling stumped on who to hire!

Outline your basic requirements.

Do you need to have a mashed potato bar at your wedding? How about specific linen colors for the sweetheart table? Think about some of the non-negotiable requirements for your vendors before you look for them. For example, I knew that I had some picky requirements about photographers. I want two shooters with 8 hours of coverage and full rights to my photos, preferably with an engagement shoot included in the price. (I am a woman who knows what I want. That is, until you ask me to order takeout.) Knowing exactly what I want helped me narrow down photographers in the area that could meet these requirements and stay in my price point. In order to keep track of which vendors meet your requirements, make an Excel Doc. This makes side-by-side comparisons a breeze, and it’s incredibly satisfying to plug in your information to one document. Personally, I made an Excel sheet with a different tab for every vendor. I’m living my best life, Microsoft Office style.


Venue | The Heartlanders Co. | As seen on

The Heartlanders Co.

Use your resources.

Feeling overwhelmed by how much planning you have to do? Use the internet! You can find support groups on Facebook, wedding tips on Today’s Bride, and can put your registry up on your wedding website. Make use of all the online resources you have, but don’t forget about the Today’s Bride magazine! Their latest issue has EVERYTHING you could possibly need to plan a fabulous nuptial day.


In just a few weeks, Today’s Bride will have a bridal show at The Bertram in Aurora. They have a TON of vendors there, which means plenty of inspiration for picking the right one. Come armed with a notepad, a few ideas, and don’t forget your Today’s Bride magazine! I’ll be there taking pictures and collecting ideas. Can’t wait to see you there!


With love,

Find a Local Vendor


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