Which comes first?


The venue?

But you should know how many people you’re having…

The guest list?

But how much can you afford…

The budget?

But if you have no idea how much venues even cost, how would you know what an appropriate budget is?

At the same time we were having the whole when-the-heck-do-we-get-married discussions, we were also trying to answer those questions–and we started with guest list and budget.

I started making a guest list because it was something I knew the answer to. I could make a list, and just include everyone I might possibly want to invite, and then we could cut from there. Mike got on google and started finding information about how much things cost. (Answer: a LOT).

But a lot of our numbers were still guesses, based on averages, without any actual knowledge of getting married in a major city.

And I couldn’t call venues if I had no questions. How would the conversation go?

“Congratulations…what date are you looking for?”

“Oh…I don’t know yet. Either this year, or next year.”

“…I see. Well, how many people will you be having?”

“Several? At least 100. Maybe 200.”

“Well thats quite a range. What’s your budget?”

“I have no idea; how much do you cost?”


We (maybe) chose a date, had a couple conversations around our guest list and have a (rough, very approximate) estimate of what could (possibly) be a budget. At least we know where our ceremony will be…

And we’re now long distance for most of a month (vacation+work travel), which makes things even trickier.

I couldn’t figure out what information was important, and what was just details, and what could wait.


  • A very approximate number of people (within 50 should get it done–you need to know if you are having 100, 150, 200, 250 but nothing more detailed right now)
  • Time of day and day of week (we knew we wanted Saturday, but weren’t sure about afternoon or evening)
  • Range of dates (probably max of 4)
  • What information to find out
  • Our budget. But not really at all. If you call somewhere (or look them up) and they’re out of your price range, oh well. You don’t need to know to begin looking at places.

That last one was the key. Especially with a fiance on vacation, I needed a way to organize what I’d found out, combine it with what he found out, and identify all of the key information we’d need to make a decision.

So I made a spreadsheet (nerd alert).

I feel better when I’m doing something, so this was great for me. And since I have a hard time making phone calls (I can’t really answer the phone while teaching) it was also helpful to give Mike all the tools he needed to make calls. He just went down the line and asked questions for any blank fields, and we were both able to view it later.

How did you choose a venue?


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