Finding the Perfect "I Do!" Location
Welcome back brides-to-be!
So you've got the ring, your Pinterest board is started, and now it's time to start making the big decisions. The foundation of any event, whether it be a wedding or something else, is deciding on your venue. A wedding venue is so special, and will forever be remembered as the place where you married your best friend! There are a lot of deciding factors, so let's jump right in.
Before you even start looking, it's important to land on a price point that you want to stay under. There's nothing worse than finding your dream venue and then finding out it's $12,000 over budget! Find out who is paying for the wedding, and discuss what a realistic budget looks like. Communication throughout the planning process is key- I can't tell you how many horror stories I've heard of engaged couples who unexpectedly had to foot the bill. Talk to your parents, your future spouse's parents, or any other relatives that you feel comfortable discussing the budget with. Traditionally, the bride's family is responsible for the wedding day costs, but times are changing, and many times both sides split the bill, or the newly engaged couple might decide to pay for it themselves! Once you've decided your budget, you can start looking around to narrow down what you like.
Theme/Mood of Your Wedding
Now that you have budget figured out, it's time to think about the fun stuff. What do you envision your day to look and feel like? Are you looking for as close to a Disney fairy tale wedding as you can get? Or do you want a more boho vibe? Perhaps you want an industrial chic loft to pay homage to you and your fiance's city roots? Try to decide what you want the wedding day to feel like. There are endless possibilities to comb through, so narrowing down the mood of the day will be a huge help in your search. I highly recommend taking the Knot's Wedding Vision quiz on their site! This is a great way to get a free recommendation on what direction to start off at.
Destination vs Local
I could do an entire blog post about the pros and cons of Destination Weddings vs Local, but for now let's just discuss the basics. Ultimately, you will have to decide which is right for you, but picking a venue will highly rely on whether you do a destination or a local wedding. If you live in Atlanta, GA and have your heart set on a beach wedding- you may have a hard time finding a local venue that matches your wishes. If destination is just out of your reach, be open to options! While a tropical beach venue might not be available in your area, perhaps look into a lakefront venue. If city lofts aren't common by you, try seeing if there are any warehouse or old railroad stations available. Being open to change is so important, and you can still end up with a venue that is perfect for you with the right mindset.
One of the most overlooked factors in deciding your venue is the season! It's easy to get caught up in the perfect venue that you may overlook some logistical aspects. Having an outdoor ceremony is a common theme in weddings, but if you are having a December wedding in Maine, you might want to re think having your ceremony in the park. Likewise, a beach wedding in Miami during hurricane season may be a bit risky. If your heart is set on a venue and your dates aren't flexible, that doesn't mean it's impossible, just get creative! Make sure you have a back up plan for weather, or have adequate preparations for the worst. Consider a tented wedding if your area is prone to rain, or have space heaters/blankets available for your guests if it will be a bit chilly. Paper fans have been more and more popular for summer weddings, and can make cute favors too! Your guests are spending a good amount of money to come to your wedding, especially if they are traveling from out of town- the last thing you want is for your guests to be feeling miserable as you exchange vows.
Lastly, it's important to understand a venue's restrictions before booking. Some churches have photography restrictions, which could make it hard for your dream photographer to get that perfect shot of you and your future spouse's first kiss as a married couple. There also can be restrictions on decor, food, and special effects. For example, my venue requires all food and beverages to come through them, which made the total bill a bit more than expected. Other venues don't allow candles, smoke machines, alcohol, hanging decor, or loud music. Some venues also have space restrictions. For example, my venue had two spaces available for the reception, as well as two time blocks for the wedding. Since they host multiple weddings in a day, you can only have each space at a certain time, which made for some tough decisions in making sure everything worked out. This also can apply to guest count- if you want to have a 300+ guest count, your options may be more slim just due to space concerns. Venues also may have surprise fees, such as cake slicing fees (which can apply to any dessert, not just a cake), parking fees, and security fees, which can make you go over budget before you know it! Make sure to check in with the venue in advance so that these restrictions don't take you by surprise.
Choosing your venue is one of the most important wedding decisions you will have to make, and it's super important to be prepared going into it! I HIGHLY recommend looking through Wedding Spot for your search. You can put in budget, location, style, and more to narrow your search, and even get a price quote before seeing it in person! Not all venues are on this site, but many are, including ones you might not have ever heard of. This site was such a huge help in my search, and really helped me to narrow down my options and find the perfect spot for me.