Start with planning your guest list and your budget. Before you go into a negotiation about a wedding venue, you want to know what’s important to you, how many people will be attending your wedding and how much you can spend.
If you want to have a large wedding, make a list of guests and add from 20 to 40 slots for people that you will add later. With a large wedding, you will inevitably forget about someone or your relatives will later insist that such and such person must get an invitation to your wedding. You may also change a job, meet new friends or need to invite someone for other reasons.
If you want to have a small wedding, the situation is completely opposite. You will have a few people that will not be able to attend. For this reason, most wedding experts recommend factoring a no-show ratio of about 10% to 25% into your small wedding budget. This means that if you are inviting 110 people, you can plan that between 90 and 100 will actually attend the wedding.
However, you want to make sure that your wedding location and wedding venue will be able to handle everyone in case you don’t get any no-shows. The time to create a final guest list is right before you send out your wedding invitations, typically about six weeks before the wedding. This being said, you do need to have an estimate much earlier to be able to look at various venues and make estimates for catering, alcohol, and entertainment. Also, a lot of popular destinations and venues get booked a year or even more in advance, which is why you need to secure a venue as soon as possible if you want to get married in a popular location.