Choosing a wedding venue

Your wedding is your first joint statement of style as a couple, so it’s important to choose a location that conveys the spirit and style of your future as Mr. and Mrs. Whether you have your eyes set on a garden, vineyard, city loft, barn, or remote beach, here are some tips for securing a fabulous wedding venue.

 

Choose your location
Many self-contained locations provide all the services you'll need at your wedding. Some locations provide food and beverages, tables, chairs, china and various staff. Hotels, country clubs and full service venues are ideal for brides who want convenience and ease when planning. Off-site locations can provide few to no services, so catering, party supply rentals and vendors are arranged separately. Private homes, historic houses, gardens and barns are great venue options for brides who want lots of customization.

Consider distances
It's perfectly workable to have your ceremony and reception at two different sites, as long as they are within 20 minutes driving time of each other. If your ceremony and reception sites are far apart, you may want to consider providing transportation, such as vans or buses for the guests. If your ceremony can take place anywhere, it may be best to find a venue big enough to include your reception. It’s often easier and more budget friendly to hold the ceremony and reception at the same site, as you don't have to move flowers and decor elements from the ceremony to the reception.

Pick a date
If you want to marry outdoors on the beach in Texas, exchanging vows in July or August may not be optimal. Holding your wedding during the "off-season" can also work, as rates and availability may work to your benefit. Consider a ski resort in the summer when the meadows are covered with wildflowers.

Pick a time of day
Not every celebration needs to include dancing until 2am. A mid-morning wedding followed by a celebratory lunch is an approach that will save you some costs with the venue. On the other hand, an outdoor wedding held at dusk is incredibly romantic.

Decide if you want to extend celebrations
Consider whether you want to host additional events in addition to your wedding ceremony and reception and how these will mesh with the venue you have chosen. Many couples like to make their wedding into a weekend-long celebration, beginning with a rehearsal dinner and culminating with a post-wedding brunch and send-off for the honeymooning couple.

Is your wedding one of many at your venue?
Know whether there will be another wedding on site the same day as yours. It's best to have the venue on an exclusive basis. However, if this is not possible, make sure all logistics are well orchestrated to avoid confusion among your guests, band members, florist, and other suppliers and to ensure no one arrives at the wrong celebration.

Read the contract - even the fine print
The devil is in the details and just about any site will require you to sign a contract outlining the terms of service. So before you sign, inquire about the site's rules and restrictions in terms of food service, decor, music and parking. These details can impact your schedule in a big way. Be sure your contract also outlines the dates and times that your rented room will be made available to you, what you are allowed to do in terms of photography, bar, decorating and lighting - as well as when you will need to vacate. It's also important to ask about possible hidden charges such as coat checking, valet parking as well as the possibility of vacating late. Also ask if there are fees for using an outside cake baker, before signing on the dotted line.