When you're planning your wedding, nearly everything revolves around the date and location. You can't plan very much without knowing when and where the wedding will be, and it's tricky to settle on one until you have the other. The process of properly choosing your wedding location will probably involve booking a venue somewhere, but where should you hold the wedding?
Everyone has a different dream wedding in mind. For some people, walking down the aisle of a church sounds idyllic, while for others, a wedding in a flower-filled garden sounds much prettier. Choosing a location depends on the season and the kinds of wedding plans you have. If you want an elaborate wedding with paper decorations, an outdoor wedding is riskier in case of rain or wind, while an indoor wedding in the heat of August may be stifling. Here's how you can choose the perfect wedding location.
What season are you looking at?
Most people have a rough idea of when they'd like to hold their wedding as far as the season goes. If you have your heart set on a winter or summer wedding, you'll need to jump into action to book a prime venue. Many wedding venues are booked for months in advance, especially for the prime wedding season of June or July. The season will dictate which venues are impractical and may give you ideas about other locations you hadn't considered.
If your wedding is in the spring, consider a venue with both outdoor and indoor capabilities. Whether you're booking a church or botanical gardens, make sure you will have access to shelter if spring tends to be rainy in your area or a wind-free area if blustery storms are common in spring. A summer venue should have access to shade and lots of seating if it's outside and air conditioning if you're holding the wedding indoors. Fall considerations should be similar to spring, with the added risk of snow in certain northern areas. In the winter, make sure the venue will have adequate heating and make alternate arrangements in case of a storm during the booked day.
Are you looking in your own town?
Weddings abroad are increasingly popular as people roll their weddings into their vacation time and try to have fun in the sun. If you have always wanted to visit another city, state, or country for your wedding and it's close enough that all your wedding guests can afford to get there (unless you plan to pay their way, which will quickly become expensive), why not book your wedding there?
When searching other towns, you may already have an idea of exactly where you want your wedding to be (a Hawaiian resort hotel or famous church, for instance), but try to think outside of the box, too. A beach wedding is an overdone concept today, but you can see where the locals book their weddings by searching on Google and follow suit.
How formal do you want your wedding to be?
Some weddings are casual and others are very formal. You likely have an idea already of how formal you want your wedding to be. For very formal weddings, only the classiest churches and reception halls may do, which will restrict your choices somewhat. Semi-formal weddings are perhaps the most flexible, as you can easily dress up another type of location, while casual weddings are common for outdoor venues.
Consult your partner when you're trying to figure out how formal the wedding will be. It's important to include the bridal party in these considerations. It will probably be obvious how formal the wedding should be based on the couple getting married – some couples want nothing less than the ultra-formal television-ready wedding, while others would feel out of place and pretentious in that atmosphere.
Are you looking for a cheap venue or a perfect atmosphere?
You can find deals on wedding venues by booking in advance, searching online, and talking to the venue about options. For example, if you can provide your own catering, florist service, and so on, you may be able to save a lot of money. The cheapest venues may need to be dressed up more to meet your atmosphere, but can save you a lot on the steep cost of a wedding. On the other hand, if you want the ideal atmosphere, you will probably need to pay a lot more money.
You may also save money by holding your wedding on a different day than you hoped to. For instance, a spring or winter solstice wedding may cost more because the venue is likely going to be in very high demand on these days. Take your budget into consideration from the very beginning so you don't wind up disappointed. If a venue is out of your price and won't negotiate on the fees, look at alternatives.
Do you have any friends or family with suggestions?
Ask your friends and family for suggestions of wedding venues that are in your desired area – you don't have to mention the price range if you don't want to, but the extra input can result in finding a venue you would never have thought of on your own. For instance, they may have connections in a hotel, resort, or garden and know how to book it. They may even suggest a local gem you hadn't thought of.
When people suggest a venue, make sure you check out the venue website or look at it in person. You may discover some aspect of it or get related ideas that you hadn't thought about. For example, destination castle weddings are popular in Europe, but you might think about holding a wedding in a lakeside cottage resort in the US so that your guests can stay in cottages before and after the wedding. Your area will dictate the types of venues available.
The best wedding is one that meets the expectations of the couple being married as well as the guests, so plan carefully when it comes to the date and venue. These considerations will shape the rest of your wedding planning from the level of formality to the reception. Getting the perfect venue will make your big day that much better, but remember, even a cheap venue can be dressed up if you're creative and enthusiastic!