Are you planning on getting married in Detroit? Are you envisioning your perfect venue in the city? As you're dreaming about your day, I've created a list of 10 things to consider before your book your Detroit wedding venue! After documenting countless weddings in Downtown Detroit and Metro Detroit, I've learned a thing or two about what to look for when choosing a venue. I've learned from my past clients' mistakes and I'm here to tell you everything you need to know before your book your wedding venue in Detroit. A wedding in the city is timeless, yet contemporary! It can be exhilarating and fun, or laidback and casual. I'm here to help you choose your perfect venue! Check out my list below, and don't skip number 5!
1. Availability and Tours
As you begin your search for the perfect Detroit wedding venue, you need to first check if the venue is available for your desired date(s). If you have a season you’d love to get married in, rather than a set date, you’re more likely to find availability. As you’re checking availability, make sure you ask about any upcoming projects or renovations that may interfere with your wedding. Yes, couples have had renovations happening during their wedding, it’s not great! Additionally, ask if there will be any other weddings at the same venue on your planned date. Also, typically venues book at least one year in advance, but sometimes they have more openings in off-seasons such as winter.
As you’re checking availability, make sure that the venue is available for a tour as well! Even if it’s just a virtual tour, it’s a good idea to do a walkthrough of the space so that you can fully envision it for your big day!
2. Capacity and Space
Thinking about your guest list, you want to make sure that your venue can fit everyone you desire to invite! You want to be at or under capacity, as venues legally cannot go over capacity limits. Don’t forget about your vendors! They’re often included in the count as well. To get the best idea of what the space will look like full of guests, furniture, etc. you can ask to schedule a tour when the venue is set up for a similar-sized wedding so you can see the layout of the tables and how much space there is. If this isn’t possible, you can always search the venue online to find photographs.
When you’re envisioning the layout, be sure to consider additional spaces and layout. Sometimes there are other rooms or areas that are designated for cocktail hour, mingling, dancing, etc. If you want the cocktail hour in one room and the reception in another (highly recommended for logistics) ask if this is a possibility. Also, some smaller venues have two separate areas for dinner and dancing. Consider how that will impact the flow of your wedding.
As you're planning the space, make sure that there isn’t too much extra room as well. All that extra space can affect the experience. Guests will often spread out to the space you have designated. If you’re planning a micro wedding or elopement, choose appropriate venues for that size of wedding!
Here’s a list of my favorite micro wedding and elopement venues in Detroit!
3. Style and Ambiance
Your venue truly sets the tone for your wedding. Make sure it fits your style or can be adapted to fit your style! If you’re not sure about what style you want, head over to Pinterest for some inspiration. Since your venue is the backdrop for your wedding, or at least your reception, make sure it fits both you and your partner's vision. Touring the venue can help you envision the space as well! When considering style, ask yourself if you want something that feels vintage or modern? Classic or contemporary? Dark and moody or light and airy? Some factors that can affect the style are lighting and view! Think about the type of natural light available or what type of lighting they offer. Do you want large chandeliers or large windows? Do you want to overlook the Detroit skyline or the Detroit River?
When considering the style and ambiance of the venue, think about the exterior, the architecture, the decor that cannot be removed (like wall art and lighting). Consider all aspects, big and small, as each will impact the feel of your wedding. If there are certain elements you don't love, ask if they can be removed, replaced, or covered up. It's amazing how drapery can transform a space!
If you’d like some examples of different styles of venues in Detroit, check out my list below!
For a great view of Detroit, check out The Monarch Club.
For a great view of the Detroit River, check out Waterview Loft at Port Detroit.
For beautiful natural lighting, check out the Highland Detroit.
For great artificial lighting, check out the Detroit Opera House.
For rustic and modern, check out the Whiskey Factory.
For classic and timeless, check out The Colony Club.
For clean and edgy, check out the Museum of Contemporary Art Detroit.
For bold and vibrant, check out the Majestic Detroit, Theatre and Alley Deck.
For natural and scenic, check out Anna Scripps Whitcomb Conservatory.
The experience that you have on your wedding day is important, but also the experience for your guests! While considering the ambiance you want to create, consider the experience you want to curate as well.
From the moment your guests arrive, the wedding experience begins. For some guests, that will be when they pull up to the venue, for others that will be when they check into their hotel. Check your venue to see if they partner with hotels nearby and if you can book a block of rooms. Oftentimes, these hotels will also offer shuttle services. Luckily, in Downtown Detroit there are a variety of amazing hotels that your guests can choose from! Some venues are even hotels, like The Antheneum, Shinola Hotel, and The Westin Book Cadillac.
If guests are not staying at a hotel, then consider how they are getting to the venue and where they are parking! If you need to direct guests to the parking garage, rather than the venue, make sure you specify that on your invitation or your wedding website if you create one. Ask your venue if they have a designated parking lot or structure. Ask if there is an additional cost associated with parking and if a valet is available as well.
This may be overlooked at times, but make sure all of your guests can easily access the venue. It should be fully handicap accessible, including elevators and ramps when needed.
Acoustics is another aspect of the experience that is never even considered. If it's a smaller venue that will be full of guests, consider the volume level. Similarly, if it’s a larger venue with fewer guests, will it echo? This is especially important to consider if you’re having a live band. You want to make sure that your guests can enjoy the music, clearly hear it from any place in the room, but not be too loud. The same goes for speeches. You want guests in the back to be able to hear your hilarious maid of honors speech!
Another key factor for the experience is privacy. Is the venue connected to another space, such as a bar or restaurant? Are you going to have exclusive access to the venue? Is it easy for party crashers to wander in? Things to look out for and ask about!
5. Photographic Opportunites
Of course, as a photographer, I have to bring up photography! As your selecting your venue, consider the photographic opportunities at the venue or nearby in the city. Does your venue offer space or a suite to get ready? If so, consider the aesthetics and if there is enough natural light. Does your venue have a gorgeous lounge, rooftop terrace, balcony, or stunning staircase that would be perfect for photographs? Having indoor spaces inside of your venue is also great if it's raining. Maybe you planned to take photographs around Detroit, but the weather isn't cooperating. Having a large enough space to fit your entire bridal party at your venue is perfect if that situation arises!
Your venue may not have many photographic opportunities inside, but consider the architecture of the building! Just to name a few, The Detroit Institute of Arts, Belle Isle Casino, and Colony Club all have amazing architecture and provide a great backdrop for your photographs. Additionally, your venue may not offer a perfect backdrop, but it may be located near other ideal locations in Detroit to take your photographs. Shinola Hotel is right next to The Z Lot, The Belt, and Parker's Alley which are popular locations for photography! Similarly, Eastern Market offers wedding venue space but the surrounding architecture and murals are great stops for photographs.