Wedding Venue Ideas for 2024

Perhaps the most significant decision you’ll make for your wedding, other than deciding to get married, is selecting a venue for your wedding. Finding, vetting, and choosing a wedding venue can be stressful and challenging, but the best thing you can do is start planning now if you want to get the best venue for your wedding.

And with so many wedding venue options to choose from, it can be overwhelming to decide which one to go with. But not every venue can accommodate every couple’s wish list. It’s up to you to narrow your options for a wedding venue by looking at some of the other details of your wedding and prioritizing things for your special day.

How do I select the best wedding venue?

There are some steps you can take and decisions you can make now that can help ease your anxiety about finding the best wedding venue. Consider the following:  

Answer the Obvious
Any professional wedding venue coordinator will ask you important questions up front that can help decide what venue is right. Know the answers to these questions before reaching out to wedding venues.

  • What is the ideal wedding date? You may not have it set in stone, but popular wedding venues book up months and even years in advance. Having a date in mind or a window of dates is helpful.
  • How many guests? Some wedding venues can accommodate a massive number of wedding guests, while others keep parties more limited, like at an exclusive restaurant or more intimate setting like someone’s home.
  • What’s the budget? A lot goes into a wedding venue’s cost, but you’ll need to have some kind of budget in mind for a coordinator to work with. For 2024, the average cost of a hometown wedding (not a destination wedding) will be approximately $33,000, with about 30% or more dedicated to the venue (includes food and beverages).

Answering these questions can help narrow your list of potential venues. Also, most wedding venues like Monona Terrace have online consultation forms that ask the questions you’ll need to have answers for prior to making contact. 

Now, after the basic questions are answered, here are some other things to think about that can help narrow your list of potential venues.

Every city has popular wedding locations, from barns and farms to mansions, museums, or a rooftop garden (ours can handle 3,000 guests!). If you already have a venue style/type in mind, contact them and see if it fits your dates, guest list, and budget. 

If you have your heart set on a destination wedding, you can add 25% or more to your budget. If you’re okay with the budget, then it’s up to you to decide the location and start searching for venues in that location. They’ll ask the same questions above.

Onsite (or not) Reception
Some wedding venues are there simply for the nuptials, with the actual reception held at a different location. For instance, there may be a location that represents your relationship, like the place that you met or where you proposed. Many couples choose an offbeat location and then hold a reception at a different location.

Many wedding venues, like Monona Terrace, offer just about everything a couple needs for their wedding and can handle all the details. And a versatile venue doesn’t necessarily mean more expensive. Locations that focus on weddings have their process down to a science and can accommodate just about anything on your wish list. And most wedding venues of this type also have inclement weather options.

Or Not…
You can save money by doing everything yourself and hire a freelance wedding coordinator (highly recommended). Say you have a friend with a big backyard or just rent a pavilion at a local park. With some imagination, pre-planning, and a lot of phone calls, you can do it all yourself. It’s hard, but your wedding will certainly be memorable. Doesn’t that count for defining the best wedding venue?  

What are some innovative wedding venue ideas?

Again, every city has its selection of interesting, innovative wedding venues, but most cities also have locations that can accommodate a wedding but are just overlooked. Here are a few ideas to help hone your search.

Art Gallery: Galleries come with, well, art. Pick the right type for your taste and go from there.

Museums: Many museums host weddings and many have outdoor areas for private parties.

Botanical Garden: Gardens come with lovely greenery, flowers, and probably native plants. Most botanical gardens offer wedding packages.

City Park: Some of the most spectacular wedding venues in the country are in city parks. And they’re often less expensive to rent space than other venues.  However, you may also have to find another location for the reception.

Libraries: Most cities have a public or historic library that accommodates weddings in an eclectic surrounding.

Vineyards: If you live in a state with a wine region, you’ll most assuredly find a variety of vineyards that love weddings. In fact, for many vineyards, it’s a key source of income. But they book up fast.

Warehouses: Industrial warehouses are often converted into cool, architectural wedding venues with an urban vibe. Think high ceilings, exposed wood and brick. And they’re often in areas where noise isn’t an issue, so you can dance the night away.

Farms/Barns: Go rustic and romantic! How about a bonfire to celebrate your matrimony? Farms give you instant charm, natural beauty, and wide-open spaces.

Private Home/Property: If elegance and luxury are your style, many amazing houses and estates are available for weddings and typically have stylish ballrooms.

Rooftop Gardens: Rooftop gardens continue to be popular in any city that boasts one or more of them. Of course we love our William T. Evjue Rooftop Gardens and host weddings in the spring, summer, and fall, weather permitting with indoor spaces for backup.

The Beach/Water: It’s hard to beat the beach. Beautiful sunsets, fresh air, and mild weather. But you don’t have to go to California, Florida, or Hawai to get married on the water. Larger lakes like Lake Monona and rivers  have fantastic wedding locations as well. Many have boating options so you can cruise across the water  as you say your vows. 

Historical Hotels: Depending on your city, you likely have an older, well-appointed hotel. This can be an all-in-one location for the wedding, reception, and for out-of-town guests to stay. Almost every mid-sized and larger cities have amazing, historic hotel venues.

How do I know if a wedding venue is right for me?

As you’re going through the selection process and talking to different coordinators and vendors, you’ll narrow your list of venues based upon our previously set parameters. Try and get your list to just a couple of potential wedding venues. It’s important that your spouse-to-be is happy with the options and they make sense for your guests as well.

Then it’s about the little things. What are the simple add-ons and unexpected delights that make you smile about a particular venue and the decision is made. How did you know you wanted to propose or say “yes” in the first place? You kind of just know it’s right. 

What should I do if I can’t find the perfect wedding venue?

First, manage your expectations. That’s why you have to prioritize the things that are important to you and find a venue that checks off as many of those as possible within the other parameters of your wedding (size, date, budget, etc.). 

We recommend reaching out to a few venues and asking questions. But remember… There are ALWAYS options for a great wedding venue. A good place to start is with the wedding team at Monona Terrace. Contact Us and let’s start planning your perfect day together!