Wedding Venue Styles: Full Service Venues vs. Raw Spaces

Wedding Venue, castle, beach, carousel


Planning a wedding opens the door (or Pandora’s Box!) to many, many, many questions. While each and every one of those questions must eventually be addressed, one of the first decisions that every couple needs to make is: wedding venue. When it comes to wedding venues, the options range dramatically. Want to get married on the beach, or in a castle? No problem! Always dreamed of saying “I Do” in a theme park? Totally possible! For the less quirky, the options can be boiled down to two options: full service venues and raw spaces. Naturally, each has its pros and cons, advantages and disadvantages. We are breaking down these options, highlighting the best of what each has to offer, to hopefully make the tricky venue decision a little easier (and more fun)!




The advantage of this wedding venue style is written in the title: full service. This type of venue can be an amazingly stress-free option, with the in-house staff providing everything from tables and chairs to catering and the full bar. The staff members in these spaces are accustomed to hosting weddings, and savvy when it comes to anticipating and avoiding potential issues. More often than not, your package will also include an in-house event manager, who will be familiar with your specific wedding details and present on-site for your special day, helping everything run as smooth as possible. Furthermore, because all the standard elements are taken care of by the venue, you can focus on the fun things like flowers, dresses and suits, escort cards, and favors.


Wedding Venue, floral, favors, escort cards
Photos by: Brian Hatton, Hatnim Lee, Dutton + James

Although these wedding venues will come at a higher price point up front, you are getting more bang for your buck. All of the details are wrapped up in one nice package, meaning you are simply paying the majority of your budget to one venue, rather than spreading the love (as it were) around, which can throw some couples into sticker shock, so be prepared.

One other potential disadvantage, depending on your personality, is the limited possibility to completely personalize the space. Full service venues often have built-in decor elements, and certainly have an established vibe, so finding one that fits your style may not be easy, but once you do, you can breathe one amazing sigh of relief knowing that you are in good hands.

All in all, full service venues are fabulous options as long as you find the one that works with your aesthetic and budget.


Wedding Venue, tables, chairs, flowers
Photo by: Matt Lien


A venue that is a raw space is the dream for the DIY couple. A raw wedding venue is unique because the buildings themselves vary widely (museum hall, loft, barn, etc.), but what they have in common is the fact that they present an open space, meaning you have a blank canvas to work with. The advantage here is the true endlessness of creative possibility; whether you’re going for extravagance or minimalism, you can ensure that the venue, on your wedding day, is truly unique and truly you.


Wedding Venue, barn, glass ceiliing
Photo by: Shannon Collins

The up-front venue rental costs will be less strenuous on the pocketbook, often just requiring a flat fee, which will be much lower than costs associated with a full service space. However, this is a double-edged sword. Transforming a raw space into a dream wedding venue requires a lot of heavy lifting (literal and mental) as all rentals, and possibly set-up, will likely be your responsibility. That means organizing a caterer, renting tables and chairs, paying for and organizing the installation of special lighting or decor, renting linens and napkins… the list can seem endless. Most couples end up hiring a wedding planner or day-of coordinator to take some of the load, thus spending whatever leftover cash they may have saved on the wedding venue itself. In the end, you’ll have a wedding that perfectly fits your personality, despite being a bit tired from the planning!

Finding the perfect wedding venue can be stressful, but once it’s booked, you will be relieved of a ton of worry, freeing up time and space to plan some of the finer elements! We hope this helps!

Learn more about Brooklyn Winery Weddings!