4 Critical Factors for Couples to Consider When Researching Chesapeake Bay Wedding Venues

Spring and summer are almost upon us! As you start planning your wedding, you are going to need to start researching wedding venues. Spring and Summer weddings are popular, so you will want to book a venue quickly. You will also need to arrange catering for all of your hungry guests! Just thinking about all of this is enough to make someone’s head spin. Luckily, there are a wide array of Chesapeake Bay Wedding venues and caterers to choose from. But because there are so many options available, you will need to take time to research them and determine which one fits your budget and vision best. Here are some factors to consider when choosing your wedding venue. 

But First, Here’s How You Can Stay Organized Throughout the Whole Process

SmokeHouse Grill Stay Organized

Keeping track of all the venues and people you will be working with throughout the wedding planning process can be a headache. Here are some tips for staying organized through it all.

Create a spreadsheet

Spreadsheets are a lifesaver. Create one to track all of your research on different wedding venues. When you are ready to pick a venue, you can go back to this spreadsheet and review it. We suggest adding the following columns to your spreadsheet:

  • Venue name
  • Location
  • Capacity: How many people can the venue fit? A sit-down meal for the reception will take up much more space than a standing cocktail party. 
  • Availability: When are they available? Remember that certain dates in the Spring and Summer fill up quickly. 
  • Type: Is it a hotel? Church? Outside? Inside?
  • Rates: How much does it cost to rent the space? Are there any add-ons available?
  • Layout: 
  • Contact Information
  • Catering Options: Do they have on-site catering? Will they allow outside caterers into the venue? 

Put everything in your calendar

Have a wedding venue appointment coming up? Block out the time on your calendar and add an alert for it. Need to set aside time to compare venue rates? Set aside time in your calendar to go over them. Keeping an up-to-date calendar will allow you to hold yourself accountable to finishing all your necessary tasks. 

As you budget your wedding, you may need to cut back on certain costs. This may mean choosing a less expensive floral arrangement or setting a date during the off-season.

1. Budgeting: Chesapeake Bay Wedding Venues All Come With Different Amenities and Costs

Smokehouse Grill Budgeting

First things first. You are going to have to figure out a budget for your wedding. As you budget, you will need to take into consideration a variety of expenses, including:

  • The cost to rent the venue
  • Decorations, including floral arrangements and centerpieces
  • Catering
  • Hotel lodging (if necessary)
  • Wedding invitations

This list can seem daunting at first, but it is important to know ahead of time where all of your money is going to go. Because there are so many wedding venues in Chesapeake Bay, finding one that fits your budget shouldn’t be too difficult. But as you find more venues and vendors you are interested in, you will need to keep yourself organized. 

2. Catering: What, and How, Will You Be Serving Food to Your Guests?

Smokehouse Grill Catering

Some venues offer onsite catering while others allow guests to hire an off-site caterer for themselves. Indoor venues, such as hotels, often have their own kitchen and culinary staff that allow them to cook everything in-house. If you like a venue’s menu options, you can consider using them for both space rental and catering. But don’t be afraid to look at external catering companies as well if you aren’t feeling the hotel menu. Just remember to ask about the venue’s catering guidelines when you initially meet with them. Some venues may restrict you from hiring any outside caterers, while others might tell you that you will have to provide your own catering. 

Wedding Caterers

Some catering companies allow you to choose between on-site catering or just a food delivery and set up. Depending on the style of food you want to serve, some catering companies can even bring their own equipment to cook onsite. Outdoor weddings, for instance, usually match well with BBQ catering and fresh seafood options, neither of which can be cooked off-site before being delivered. 

You should also check whether they offer alcohol catering. Some catering companies offer comprehensive wedding packages that include hors d’oeuvres, salads, upscale plates, and alcohol. They will often bring their own bartenders to tend the bar and watch over guests so you don’t have to worry about them. 

3. Guest List: How Many People Will You Invite?

Wedding Guest List

The length of your guest list will also influence what venue you choose. It wouldn’t make sense to book a venue that seats 500 people if you just want to throw a small, intimate reception. 

Remember that some venues may stretch the size of their actual seating capacity. Just because a site can fit 200 people in a room, that doesn’t mean it actually should. When talking with different venues, ask them what the prime number of guests for that space is. 

4. Style: How Does the Venue Fit to Your Vision? 

Venue and Vision

Some venues carry a more classic and elegant style while others have a more rustic, chic vibe to them. Your individual taste will draw you towards certain venues while pulling you away from others. If you want to have a casual BBQ wedding, you aren’t going to be interested in booking a regal, marble hotel. If you want a more traditional, black-tie wedding, you are going to stay away from rural barns. 

If you are 100% certain how you want your wedding to look, we recommend cutting out any venues that don’t fit this vision during your initial internet search. But if you aren’t tied down to any particular vision, we recommend keeping your options open and visiting a variety of different venues. Sometimes you think you want one thing for your wedding, only to completely switch gears when you fall in love with a venue you didn’t expect to. 


Planning the wedding of your dreams can be stressful. But it is possible to do it without losing your mind. Many Chesapeake Bay Wedding venues are able to work with your budget and vision of your wedding to make it a dream come true. 

Ready to find a wedding caterer? Contact The Smokehouse Grill today to start planning your wedding menu!