How to Choose a Wedding Location

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If you are like most brides, you have dreamed of your wedding day long before it happens.  So now you find yourself not only engaged, but challenged with one of the most important aspects of making your dream wedding happen.  Choosing the location is of utmost importance and is one of the first steps to ensuring that your wedding turns out the way that you have always dreamed it to be.

What is your idea of your dream wedding?  Do you picture yourself having a church wedding in a grand cathedral or maybe at the beach?  If you aren’t sure, think of places that excite you.  The good news is that in this day and age there are wedding venues that can suit almost any wedding fantasy that you can dream up.

Most important, is how to make your wedding as unique and special as possible.  When searching for the perfect place for your wedding, here are some of the things you’ll want to consider before you go any further.

First, you will need to have an idea of what your wedding budget will allow for your location.  Also, you will need to have a potential wedding date, number of guests and time of night or day decided.

When planning your nuptials, there are basically two types of venues to choose from.  They are referred to as “on-site” and “off-site” locations.  The on-site location is one that provides some or all of the services that you will require to make your wedding a success.  These services can include: food, beverages, staff, tables, chairs, linens, china, flowers, music, the wedding cake and decorations.  On-site locations are usually hotels, nightclubs, restaurants, catering halls, historic settings, churches and some community centers.  The on-site venues are popular with many brides because they make the planning easier by offering one-stop shopping.  They also may offer help such as professional wedding planners and program coordinators, whose experience and expertise can assist you whether your wedding is a large affair or a small one.  They can also help you deal with suppliers such as florists, musicians, limousine drivers and photographers.  While the on-site wedding location offers convenience, some brides may find that they are not allowed to bring in their own wedding cake or flowers. Also, you may only be allowed to choose from preset wedding packages, depending upon the location. And lastly, at an on-site location your wedding may not be the only event in progress at the appointed time.

The off-site wedding location is one where you rent the space and are required to bring in everything that you will need.  The good news is that with an off-site location, depending on the logistics, you can plan things exactly the way you want them to be. 

Tents are becoming ever more popular for weddings held at homes or historic mansions.  Tented weddings are one way to make sure that your celebration has just the right kind of ambiance.   This type of wedding location is usually no more expensive than a wedding at another type of venue, but offers many options such as color coordinated multiple tents connected by archways, bridges, or pathways.  You can choose whether you would like to have chandeliers, parquet floors, stained glass panels, restrooms and air conditioning units.  Also, there are tent specialists who can help you achieve your dream wedding.

No matter what site you choose, you should also consider the logistics such as transportation, parking and guest accessibility.  With an off-site location, are the facilities adequate for catering or will you be required to set up your own kitchen?  Will you be able decorate and customize the décor?

There are plenty of fantasy wedding locations that offer theme weddings (such as some amusement parks) and while they are very popular you should be aware that when you start bringing in outside contractors – costs can quickly add up and important details can be overlooked.

Ideas for potential wedding venues:

Churches, Cathedrals, Synagogs with a Meeting Hall attached
Community Centers
Catering Establishments
Night and Country Clubs
Botanical Gardens
Photography Studios
A Yacht or Ferry
National Parks
Historic sites
Amusement Parks
Private Homes
Campus Halls
Mountain Lodge’s
Cruise Ships
Wild Life Preserves
Corporate Centers

Smart questions to ask when choosing a wedding location:

  1. How formal will our wedding be?  What kind of atmosphere do we prefer?  How many guests do we plan on inviting?
  2. Is this site appropriate to the style and tone of our wedding? Is the location conveniently located?
  3. What is the rental fee and what exactly does it include?
  4. How many guests (maximum) can the site accommodate (sitting and standing)?
  5. Are there a minimum number of guests required to guarantee the site?
  6. Will my wedding be the only affair occurring at the time and will privacy be ensured at the time and hours that I have rented the space?
  7. What are the hours the site is available? 
  8. What options/help are offered for set up and clean up?
  9. Is there an ice maker and ice buckets available?
  10. What facilities are available for music and dancing (such as a piano, dance floor, stereo system and microphones)?
  11. Are there restrictions or regulations regarding music, photography or decorations?
  12. If the wedding is an off-site location, are there adequate facilities for food preparation and service?  Are there charges for the facilities?  Can I choose my own caterer, and service personnel?
  13. If an on-site venue: What is the price per person for the food, beverages and services I have requested?  What else does the price include?
  14. What is the service staff to guest ratio?
  15. Is the parking adequate as well as the guest facilities? Is there wheelchair access and convenience for the elderly?
  16. Is there a designated area for the ceremony, changing rooms or other needed spaces?
  17. If an outdoor site, what are the contingency plans if there is inclement weather?
  18. Does the venue carry liability insurance in case of a guest becoming injured during the wedding or in case of an accident resulting in a DWI/DUI after the wedding reception?
  19. What kind of reservation deposit is required?  What are the payment terms and the refund/cancellation policy if my plans should change?


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