I’ve done a fair amount of DJing since 2009 when I first started on this amazing journey of being a DJ. In this line of work, a whole lot of effort goes into setting up sound and lighting equipment, making the playlist and getting people to dance! But the honest truth is that without a proper venue, your event can come across as awkward, overdone or even inadequate. The wrong venue can negate all of the effort you’ve put into making your event a success, but the right venue can really make an event a hit! Here are some of our tips on things to consider when choosing a venue.
The truth is that when it comes to choosing a venue for your event, the venue makes a more lasting impression than any other single aspect. It is the framework for your event. The venue defines how many attendees you can have, how the music sounds (acoustics are important!), what sort of pictures your attendees or photographer will take, even down to the quality and cleanliness of the bathrooms. Imagine if everyone said “Oh yes, I went to their wedding reception, the bathrooms were stinky!” These are not the sort of memories you want people to have of your special day!
If you’re looking for some specific indoor venue ideas, you might try reading our article here.
The solution: DON’T SKIMP ON THE VENUE. Be prepared to spend money and time searching for your ideal venue that fits your criteria.
I’ve done events from lakeside destination weddings to backyard birthday parties, to everything in between, and I can honestly say that choosing the right venue can really affect your event.
PRICE The first thing everyone thinks about when choosing a venue is price. How much does it cost? The prices of venues vary a lot based on location, but in Kennewick WA, where I’m from, venues range anywhere from $200-2000. Not counting food, or other services. Many people have chosen to have their events during the winter, or on Fridays or Sundays in order to get discounts on the venue. You might consider this if you’re really trying to save money! Also being in touch with wedding professionals can really help you save money on venues if you’re willing to shop around. Getting creative with your reception venue is all the rage, and wedding professionals can make recommendations based on your area.
STYLE The style of a venue is what’s on everybody’s mind. We’ve all been to the church basement receptions where it’s big, functional and bland. The style of a venue can be taken as is, or really spruced up to create a unique experience (but takes a lot of work!). I DJ’ed for a wedding reception in a church hall once where the bride and groom created a custom-made backdrop for their entire ceremony. It was so impressive! Check it out:
They put in the time and effort to decorate the entire church and hall with such amazing effort, they turned a normally simple looking church into a beautiful venue. And they saved lots of money, creating the rustic feel that they could have paid thousands for by renting a different venue, and did it in the church they attend on Sundays.
SIZE Deciding on the size of your venue is a bit of a no brainer, except when it comes to dance floor space! If you get the option, always choose a smaller dance floor space. This is just my honest advice. I’ve DJ’ed a lot of events where the dance floor is just too large, and even when everyone is dancing, it still looks empty. The best problem to have, is when the dance floor is packed, and people start dancing elsewhere. The worst problem to have is when most people are out of their seats dancing, and there’s still a lot of dance floor real estate. Having a packed dance floor encourages people that might be self conscious about dancing to be brave and get out there!
Shrink the dance floor!
Sincerely, your DJ.
CATERING/ALCOHOL Some venues offer catering, of a wide range of quality. It’s really up to you how much you choose to spend on food and drinks, but one of the most effective methods to cut cost for food and beverages is this: DON’T HAVE AN OPEN BAR ALL NIGHT! If you choose to provide alcohol at your event, set an amount that you are comfortable paying for, then have people buy their own. Set an amount roughly to 1 or 2 drinks per person, maybe $500, then after that, people are on their own. You’ve fulfilled the obligation of providing alcohol and honestly, you may be SAVING A LIFE. Getting drunk at weddings is a tradition that goes back to the invention of weddings, but by forcing people to fork out their wallets and pay exorbitant venue prices, you may avoid a drunk driving incident. Imagine departing on your honeymoon to some incredible destination, only to receive news that your cousin is in the emergency room in critical condition after a drunk driving accident. Definitely not your first preference right? Every event I’ve ever DJed that has had an open bar, someone always pukes. Be it in the bathroom, on the dancefloor, or in the planter outside the venue, if you have an open bar, someone will puke. Alcohol is fun, but being responsible about how it’s provided could mean the difference between life and death for someone.
LOCATION Depending on where your ceremony is, you may find that it’s more convenient to have the ceremony and reception in different locations. If you’re planning on doing this, you’ll want to provide something for people do while they wait for you to take pictures, greet guests or have a few special moments together in between the ceremony and the reception. Depending on the city and location, parking might be a big issue! Planning for, and letting your guests know how and where to park could really help ease some frustrations. One time I DJed for an outdoor reception in a very large lawn that had limited street parking. People had to trek upwards of a half mile in the hot sun in their nice clothing. Not fun. If this sort of situation is a necessity, at least give the courtesy of letting people know they need to hydrate before the big hike to get to your reception.
This is not to discourage you from having an outdoor event! Just something to keep in mind when making the decision! Some of the outdoor wedding receptions I’ve done have been THE MOST beautiful I’ve ever done. Here’s an image from that one time I DJed a sunset wedding reception on Lake Coeur D’Alene. It was JUST BEAUTIFUL!
ACOUSTICS As an audio and DJ guy, I implore you! Please don’t have your event in a venue with terrible acoustics! It makes me look bad! I’ve done receptions in gyms with such a terrible echo, you can barely tell what song is being played! I’m exaggerating of course, but some venues are really just NOT built for acoustics and it’s embarrassing to DJ for! The simple way to test acoustics of a room is to clap loudly, and listen for an echo. If you can hear your clap 4 or 5 times, you’ve got terrible acoustics and people will walk away with a sub par audio experience.
ELECTRICAL POWER The most embarrassing issue a DJ faces is when there’s an event in an old venue, there’s old wiring and old breakers, and, heaven forbid… a breaker blows! This effectively shuts down the party! DJ gear doesn’t run without electricity! Some venues have their breakers properly labelled, others it’s a shot in the dark. I DJed for a school dance one time and I was connected to two electrical outlets on opposite ends of the building. Turns out they were on the same circuit and I blew a breaker! Then to make matters worse, the circuit breaker was in a locked closet and we had to wait about 30 minutes in silence while a janitor came with a key! Not my proudest moment, but we live and learn! Now, I always locate the circuit breakers before hand and insure I have access to them when event-time comes around. No exceptions.
WEATHER When I’m asked to DJ for outdoor receptions, I always cringe. I’ve had THE ENTIRE RANGE OF EXPERIENCES with outdoor events. Sandstorms, thunderstorms, rain, hail, blistering heat, bees, and even a neighbor’s lawnmower drowning out the vows. The thing to keep in mind about having an outdoor wedding, while it may be cheaper or more convenient, it’s an uncontrolled environment. Lots of things can happen outdoors, and it introduces a degree of risk and discomfort that is simply outside of anyone’s control. Some DJ’s and other industry professionals even charge an extra fee for outdoor events, just because of the added degree of risk.
Hopefully these tips have helpful for you! If you have any questions or want more information, please feel free to reach out to us or send us an email at BonsaiAudio@gmail.com