Event Planning Guide: Choosing a Venue and External Vendors – Vuka


Author Paddick Van Zyl once said, “Planning is a skill and an art that takes a lifetime to master.” While this may be true for many areas of life, planning an event doesn’t have to take a lifetime. With the right approach to choosing a venue and vendors, you can organize an event efficiently, effectively, and in a short time.

The key to saving time and money while keeping your sanity is comprehensive planning. The first step is choosing a venue. The next one is making vendor arrangements. Let’s take a closer look at planning a perfect event one step at a time.

Considerations for Choosing the Right Venue

Before you dive into the process of choosing the venue that perfectly suits your event, you need to identify the key requirements. These requirements depend on several different factors.

The Date and Time

The date and time of your event will define the rest of your planning activities. Keep in mind that on some days of the week, many popular venues are booked while vendors are busy servicing them. If your date is flexible, you have an opportunity to save.

For example, the best time to host a corporate event is a midweek night. Employees often have plans with friends and family as the weekend arrives. Meanwhile, the beginning of the week is usually busy gearing up for a new week of work.

Other things to consider when choosing a date:

  • Holidays
  • Other major events that take place on the same date
  • Weather changes
  • Speaker and entertainer availability (if any)

Once you know the date, you can take other deciding factors into consideration.

The Type of Event

The type of your event determines the type of venue you’ll choose. While a large wedding requires a vast amount of space, a small corporate lecture can settle in a small auditorium.

Popular types of venues for different events are:

  • Corporate events – conference centers, hotels, clubs, art galleries.
  • Weddings – hotels, resorts, country clubs, homes or mansions, vacation rentals, museums, restaurants.
  • Fundraisers – shopping malls, clubs, homes, restaurants.
  • Meetings – conference centers, business centers, community centers, schools, theaters, hotels.
  • Parties – hotels, mansions, clubs, local pubs, halls, bars.

If you’re looking for something special, you can browse companies that provide unique event spaces for the type of event you are planning. These spaces have less competition than hotels and conference centers do. Meanwhile, they are designed specifically to cater to the needs of event planners and those who want their event to shine.

Related: How to Find the Best Holiday Party Venue

The Desired Location

It likely won’t come as a surprise that the next element of the venue plan is deciding on the area where you want to hold the event. Things to consider include:

  • Accessibility
  • Parking
  • Proximity to public transportation options
  • Proximity to hotels (if you have guests flying in from other cities or states)

While thinking about your guests, don’t forget about your event planning needs. The location you choose has to be easily accessible by caterers, speakers, and entertainers. Otherwise, you may overpay for these arrangements and their transportation.  

The Number of Guests

The size of the venue you choose depends on the number of guests you’ve invited to your event. If the venue says “up to 100” people, and you have 100, the place may be too small for your needs. Plan for unexpected guests, speakers, their crew, catering staff, and other people who may need extra space.

Depending on your event, you need to find out whether there is enough sitting and standing space. If you are planning a lecture, you just need sitting space. If you are thinking about a large conference or a wedding, you’ll need space for people to network or dance. Consider the activities you envision for the entire evening, and let that overall plan determine the size venue you need.

The Parking Situation  

The expected number of guests can help you figure out how many parking spaces you need. A small to medium size venue with a large parking lot is a rarity, so you may need to do some research to find nearby parking lots that your guests may use.

If the perfect venue doesn’t have many parking options, you may need to do some extra planning:

  • Reserve spots in a nearby parking lot and include the price in the ticket, if your event requires tickets.
  • Promote ride-sharing to minimize the number of cars at the event.
  • Contact Uber and Lyft about discounts for a large number of people.
  • Consider arranging shuttle transportation to the nearest parking lot for large events.

Venue providers often have information about the available parking options in the vicinity. They could already have arrangements with a nearby parking where your guests could leave their vehicles.

The Overall Costs

The venue you eventually choose depends on your budget. Here are a few ways to save:

  • Choose a venue with a free catering policy – some venues only work with specific vendors. This limits your options and makes it difficult to save on catering. A free catering policy allows you to choose a caterer to suit your budget.
  • Save on decorations – if you choose an event space designed specifically for your needs (corporate events, meetings, parties), you can save on rentals and decorations. The initial design may already suit your needs or require just a few finishing touches that you can provide.
  • Consider offpeak days and times – for example, the peak season for weddings is May to October, while the most popular day for a wedding is Saturday. If you arrange a wedding on any other day or between October and May, you can save considerably.

When booking a venue, make sure to ask what’s included in the price. Some venues charge for virtually everything, including tables and chairs. Others are more flexible and allow you to bring your own alcohol, food, and decorations.

The Atmosphere

One of the most important parts of choosing the right venue is evaluating the atmosphere. To check it out, you have to visit the place. If something isn’t “just right,” you may face problems with the rest of your event planning in the future.

The atmosphere has to be right for the type of event you are planning. Meanwhile, the staff should be friendly and easy to work with.

Where to Find the Right Venue

Once you have all your requirements defined, you can start narrowing down your venue options. You can approach this task in several different ways:

  • Ask around – if your friends, family, or coworkers recently planned a similar event, they can recommend a venue. Keep in mind that whatever was right for someone else may not always work for you.
  • Google it – “best wedding venue near me” could work. However, this type of research may take a while. If you take this route, pay special attention to Google reviews.
  • Take a Walk – Another great way to find a suitable venue is to take a walk around the neighborhood. By walking into hotels, bars, restaurants, and other venues, you can make up your mind on the spot. 
  • Go with Versatility – Look for a venue that offers both indoor and outdoor space and allows you to customize that space to your liking. This can open up a range of creative options that you may not have otherwise.

Related: Where to Find Cool Event Space in Austin

How to Find External Vendors for Your Event  

Once you select a venue, the next step is to find vendors that can service your event. Depending on the services the venue provides, you may need to find external vendors for some major elements of your event. 

Food and Beverages

If your event requires food and beverages, but the venue doesn’t provide them, you need a caterer. Before looking for one, talk to the venue owner. Some of them only work with specific caterers.

Some simple tips for choosing a catering service include:

  • Always try the food
  • Read customer reviews
  • Discuss the cost (it can vary drastically from vendor to vendor)
  • Find out if they cater to special dietary needs

Your goal is to find an experienced service provider that can work in your location without breaking the bank. These days, food trucks are an affordable and fun option to offer your guests something different.

Setup and Decorations

Be ready to organize and make plans regarding a variety of setup and decoration elements, including

  • Tables, chairs, silverware
  • Sound and lighting equipment
  • Backdrops
  • Photo booths
  • Lounge and garden furniture
  • Dance floor

Most likely, comparing costs on individual items and renting them from different companies won’t help you save. Just the opposite, the time you’ll spend on this can keep you from optimizing the rest of the event. Some venues will offer many of these elements as options that you can simply add on to your venue’s plan. 

Entertainment and Music

If you need to entertain your guests, you likely need to look for external vendors that will create a special environment for your event. Here are a few things to consider when selecting such service providers:

  • Speak to other event planners for recommendations.
  • Make sure the entertainer provides entertainment programs that match your event.
  • Try to find an entertainer who has already worked at the selected venue.

Always ask the entertainer or DJ about additional equipment and services they need. Some of them may demand transportation, special sound equipment, a large space, and more.

Accommodations and Transportation

If guests are coming from out of town, you may need to arrange accommodations and transportation. You may also need transportation if parking near the venue of your choice isn’t readily available.

Here are a few things to keep in mind:

  • The hotel can be close to either the event or the airport.
  • Hotels may be willing to offer discounts if you rent 10 or more rooms.
  • Ask the hotel about shuttle services to the event.

Lyft offers a convenient service called Lyft concierge. They give you a link that you can offer your guests. When a guest uses the transportation service through the link, you pay for it. Some venues also have transportation options and can make this part of your planning easy.

Related: Guide to All the Vendors You Need for Your Austin Wedding

Choose The Perfect Venue For Your Upcoming Event

Choosing a venue doesn’t have to be tedious or frustrating. When you know what to look for and where to find it, the process becomes enjoyable and satisfying. Vuka offers unique, inspiring venues that can create a perfect backdrop for any event.

Contact us today to tour our venues and see how we can help you design the perfect event.