How to Choose an Inclusive Wedding Venue

If planning a socially responsible wedding is important to you, one of your first considerations should be how to choose an inclusive wedding venue. Booking the venue and securing a date is typically the first step in the wedding planning process, so having answers to these questions can help you make early decisions. Choosing an inclusive wedding venue may mean overlooking aesthetics, but your guests will appreciate your efforts to ensure they feel safe and comfortable at your wedding.

3 Questions to Ask When Choosing an Inclusive Wedding Venue

What is the history of the venue?

How has the venue been used in the past? Have any significant events taken place there? It is important to be familiar with the venue’s history because some wedding venues were once plantations. You cannot plan an inclusive wedding at a venue that was built on slavery.

Once you have determined the venue does not have a problematic past, you should familiarize yourself with the land it occupies. If you are a non-Indigenous person on colonialized land, it is important to make a land acknowledgement as a way of showing recognition and respect for Indigenous people and their history with the land you will be gathering on. These acknowledgements encourage reflection about the impacts of colonialism, our privilege, and how we can work towards reconciliation. Not sure what territory you are occupying? This map can help.

Is the venue accessible?

When determining if a venue is physically accessible, the main things to consider are parking, stairs, the location and amenities of the bathrooms, and if there is enough room for all guests to move comfortably. Is there accessible parking near the venue? If there are stairs at the venue, are there also ramps for guests who use wheelchairs or have other mobility needs? If not, can you hire a ramp to place over the steps? Are there paths to outdoor areas? Can someone in a wheelchair view the ceremony clearly? Are the bathrooms large enough for a wheelchair and do they have handrails? Are all the doorframes in the venue at least 75cm wide? Is there enough space between the tables in the reception space?

Creating an accessible space for LGBTQ+ identifying folks means ensuring that there are gender-neutral washrooms available at the venue. How are the existing washrooms structured? Are they single-user or multi-user? Are the single-user stalls gendered? Are there private stalls in the multi-user washrooms? Can you create gender-neutral signage for your wedding?

Another accessibility consideration is whether the venue is able to accommodate dietary restrictions. Many venues require you to utilize their catering services for your wedding. Is the menu at the venue able to accommodate vegan guests? Are they able to safely accommodate guests with celiac disease or other serious allergies?

What is the dress code for the venue?

The venue you choose often sets the tone for the dress code for your wedding. There is a wide range of dress codes for a wedding – black-tie, formal, cocktail, semi-formal, and casual are the most common. If you do not explicitly state a dress code on your invitations, guests will likely do their own research to determine what is expected of them.

A black-tie or formal dress code may be financially out of reach for some guests. Others may struggle to find more formal attire in extended sizes. Some guests may not have access to or feel comfortable in gender-affirming formal attire. If planning an inclusive wedding is important to you, consider selecting a venue that aligns with a less formal dress code.

Homework

Make a list of important factors in selecting your wedding venue. Do your considerations have inclusivity in mind? How can your selection process be more inclusive?

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