how to choose an event venue

Photo courtesy of Powers Studios

With so many fun places to throw a part, the options can seem endless! Narrowing down your event venue choices could be one of the tougher challenges of planning an event. So many factors play a part in determining what makes a venue “right” or “wrong” for your event. To simplify the process, here are 7 questions to ask so you know how to choose a venue:

  1. What are my limitations?
    Before you even start looking, find out what your budget is. Right away, you’ll be able to eliminate some options. Another limitation is the size of your guest list; too large of a space will feel awkward for a small crowd, and too small of a space will take the fun out of your event.
  1. Who’s coming?
    This question goes beyond the number of names on the guest list. Think about the demographics of who’s coming. Will there be elderly people who need easy access into the building? Are your invitees young professionals? Will children be included? Choose a venue that will cater to any specific needs your guests may have, and will also appeal to their tastes.
  1. What’s the ambiance?
    Just make sure the “vibe” of the venue matches the purpose of your event. A hip bar might not be the best place to host a professional business lunch in the same way a swanky restaurant might feel weird for a 21st birthday bash.
  1. Where is it located?
    Location can be one of the biggest reasons a guest might choose to attend or skip an event. Take into consideration the overall distance from where the majority of your guests are coming from, but also take into account other factors such as how difficult parking is. A different angle on this is whether the venue is indoor or outdoor, and if your outdoor venue has a rainy-day backup plan!
  1. What’s included in the venue rental?
    Every venue has a unique approach to what’s included in the rental of their space. Some are very all-inclusive, supplying you with everything you might need for one lump sum. Others will charge for using items such as tables, chairs, sound systems, etc. Some venues might not even have the option to rent those things. Ask about cleaning fees, length of time included in the rental, and any additional costs you might incur.
  1. What amenities are available?
    Aside from rentals, you’ll want to know what else the venue offers. Two really good things to ask about are parking and bathrooms. If you have to hire a parking attendant or rent additional restrooms to facilitate your guests, those additional costs might make a less expensive venue not worth it. A final suggestion is to ask about the kitchen. Some venues have very strict food preparation and catering protocols. You’ll want to find out if you can use your favorite caterer or if you will be required to work with their preferred caterer. 
  1. Does the layout work for my event?
    Take into consideration the venue’s layout. If you’re hosting a networking event, you’ll want to choose a space with wide, open rooms so people can easily mingle and flow. If your event will include a speaker, choose a room that has good acoustics so everyone can hear.

If you’re planning an event in the Portland area, we’d love to be a part! Check out our list of awesome Portland-area event locations to choose a venue from, and be sure to talk to us about taking care of catering your event.