Weddings come in all shapes and sizes, from destination weddings on top of mountain peaks, decadent multi day affairs, to intimate backyard cookouts and even courthouse officiating. A wedding celebration is a reflection of the personalities being merged. Maybe you are the avid hikers, or the lovers of food and music. Maybe you value family the most or you are looking for something a bit more subdued.
The kaleidoscope of options out there can be a bit intimidating and overwhelming for the freshly engaged couple. Choosing a wedding venue can seem a daunting task. I find in times like these it is easier to break things down into categories. This will help you narrow down the list and ease the selection process.
The following are questions you can ask yourselves to point you in the right (for you!) direction.
Do you want a lot of guests?
The size of your wedding will dictate the venue size.
This boils down to are you extroverted, introverted, do you both run in large social circles or you do you have a close tight knit bunch? Do you have large extended families that you want to be a part of this celebration with you? Answering this question first and accurately will set you up to answer the rest of the questions so much easier. Knowing how many people you want in your wedding changes the categories of venues that you are looking at.
- Small: 1-50
Art galleries, barns, vineyards, breweries, parks, backyard cookout, museums, botanical gardens, farms, restaurants, a beach, ranch, mountain top, the Grand Canyon, small churches.
- Medium: 50-200
Larger restaurants, banquet halls, hotels, casinos, resorts, larger churches, Disney Land, ball rooms, country clubs.
- Large: 200 plus
Large resorts, large hotels, private islands the usual.
Once you’ve got a really good idea of the amount of people, it will simplify the rest of the decision making for you.
How much do you want to spend?
Your wedding budget is a very important question, and you need to know the answer to it from the beginning. This will help you to decide which of all of the wedding venues you can afford.
The second biggest question is one that should be decided before you dive further into the details. Once you have chosen the scope of the wedding party, now you want to see how much you can spend on the wedding. You can have large weddings on a budget.
There’s always a way to sort these things out. Maybe you have a family member with some large property and you rent out a tent/tables. etc. Maybe you make it a large barbecue cookout with burgers and hotdogs. Yes you are more likely to have to spend more money the larger the group but that doesn’t mean you need to take a second mortgage out on the home. But by defining the budget from the get go, you can allow it to direct every other choice down the line.
What theme do you want you wedding to have?
Not all of the wedding venues will work for every theme.
This is where your personalities really come into play and you get to share your common passions and joys with all of your loved ones. Are you both really into music? Art? Do you enjoy being surrounded by nature or are you looking for class and refinement? This could also be something as simple as saying I want everything purple. The entire thing. Dresses, tuxedos, flowers, all of it. Purple. There. Decision made. Boom. Done. That was easy. Thats the beauty of it all, it is a celebration of you and your spouse, and who you are as people. You can do anything you want. You could do a country/western thing, traditional black and white, beach style, religious, campy, simple, or upscale. This is you describing the environment you want to be surrounded by while you say your vows.
Do you want to have a destination wedding?
This question is less about if you want to travel, and more about do you want to make all of our guests travel to some exotic location. Two people can go anywhere. You want to take into account the personalities of your guests and whether or not they are financially capable of making the arrangements. Maybe you look at where most of your guests live and use that as a geographical constraint for convenience sake. Or you say, this vineyard in Nashville is where you got engaged and regardless of who can make it, this is where you want to get married.
Maybe you have elderly family members who aren’t able to travel for health reasons and you really want them to be there and join in the festivities. Or maybe your wedding budget is not an issue and you can fly all your guests to your destination of choice along with paying for their lodging. That’s fantastic! But by asking this question, now you have narrowed it down further to local/regional, or out of state or international.
How soon do you want to get married?
The timeframe is one of those aspects that can get overlooked. By choosing a specific date you run into the possibility of limiting yourselves on wedding venues. By keeping yourself open to a date range or season (i.e. Spring/Fall), you widen the net of choices that are available. If you do have time constraints for whatever reason, keep in mind that most wedding venues book out at least a year in advance.
Places that host a lot of weddings usually have schedules fill up far ahead with different sets of logistics in play. For instance, hotel rooms in the area could be filled up, there could be a conference or big game in town. Maintaining flexibility will increase the odds that your dream wedding will have the best chance possible.
At the end of the day you want to remember why you are doing this and enjoy the experience of it all. Don’t let the decisions and the details overwhelm you. Accept the fact that yes there is sense of pressure to make everything perfect, but life isn’t perfect and the best memories come from those imperfect moments. So accept and embrace them. Above all, take a deep breath and take it one step at a time.
P.S. Here are links to few Cape Cod wedding venues that I love.