Choosing The Location for Your Wedding
Anyone who has ever planned a weding with me, or heard me talking about weddings can tell you that I liken them to a movie production- expensive productions that take a lot of time and planning, where all role players need to be prepared and in the right place at the right time. Finding a wedding venue that matches your style and the level of service that you require is very similar to choosing the set for a movie scene. Have you ever been watching a movie or TV show, where the characters are supposed to be in Chicago or Seattle, but you see palm trees in the distant background (it happens way more than you would think)? It takes away from the genuine feeling of whatever story is being told. Choosing the wrong venue can have a similar effect on your wedding- it just won't feel right. It's very important not to settle for less than what you want (which differs from person to person), and choosing a venue that fits your style and creates the best experience for you and your guests.
I know, this is much easier said than done (that's where people like me, and articles like this come in). Some are just right, but have glaring problems beneath the surface; some have terrible acoustics; some are too small or too big...There are some questions that you should ask yourself, that can help you guide your way through selecting the perfect location for your wedding.
How far is the reception from the ceremony?
If your reception hall is too far away from your ceremony location, this can create a problem. Guests can get lost, skip the reception altogether, or any number of things can happen. Minimize the chances of any unfortunate and unforeseen circumstances by having your reception within a reasonable distance from the ceremony site.
What are the venue's time restrictions?
Many venues provide services for multiple events every day, especially on weekends- and therefore require you to adhere to their schedule. You may have to choose between different time slots during the day or night for your reception. Some locations offer limited time slots, while others offer unlimited time (though rare), and some may offer extra time at an additional fee.
When can providers arrive?
Most venues will give between 90 minutes and 2 hours for wedding providers to set up and take down their equipment for your reception. Some only offer an hour, and if the venue has another function before yours, they are lucky to get a half hour. Trust me, this is never good as it makes your providers appear late and unprofessional. Make sure you know when your providers can arrive to set up, and make sure you tell your providers ahead of time.
How late can your reception go?
Many venues (especially seeing that many are in affluent areas) have noise restrictions that begin around 10PM. If you want your reception to go later into the night, this is a very important piece of information that is often times overlooked. Learning about any noise ordinances or restrictions a venue may have should be one of the first pieces of information you ask for, as it can have huge implications on the time and length of your reception. Also, be sure to coordinate with your venue as to what time their staff will begin breaking the room down. I have seen this happen while guests are still dancing, and it just looks tacky.
Outdoor wedding ceremonies and receptions are the best...Just make sure you prepare for all possibilities.
How close is the reception to (most of) your guests' homes?
If many of your guests have more than a 30 minute drive home, they may be inclined to leave earlier than you want due to their long drive. On the flip side, if your reception is close by to most of your guests' homes, they will be more inclined to stay longer because they don't have as far/long to drive. If you are having a destination wedding, the proximity of your ceremony and reception to the hotel where most guests are staying should also be taken into consideration.
How many people does the venue fit comfortably?
Some locations are too small to fit all of your guests in one room, and may need to use an overflow room. I always advise against this, as it can cause some guests to feel alienated and not as included in the celebration (remember, your guests are extended portion of your wedding party). On the flip side of that, guests can feel too spread out and isolated if the room is too big. Similar concerns should also be raised when holding your reception in a tent.
Is there enough parking for all of your guests?
I've said it many many times, but find myself repeating it often enough. You never want attending your wedding to be a burden on your guests and/or wedding party. This goes for money, time, and things one may not think about, like parking. If there is not enough parking for all of your guests (every single one, no excuses), then hire a valet service so that your guests don't have to be burdened with battling for parking spaces.
Is there sufficient electrical power for the DJ/musicians?
Public parks and many outdoor venues do not have power. A small quiet generator, or battery powered PA system may be needed. Knowing the power situation, and being prepared for it, can prevent glaring mishaps on the big day.
Does the venue have a plan for bad weather?
Some venues have tents and other accommodations for inclement weather. If having an outdoor ceremony and/or reception- make sure, whatever your case is, that you and your venue have some sort of plan for inclement weather.
Does the room have an optimal layout?
The dance floor should optimally be in the middle of the room. If your dance floor is at one end of a long room, around a corner, or in another room- it may cause your guests to feel separated and make them less inclined to dance. A centrally located dance floor is easy to access for dancing as well as being more accessible for special events and traditional dances. If your venue does not offer a centrally located dance floor, ask what the possibility of having one is.
How many event are happening at the venue that day?
It's rare, but there are places that hold up to four or five ceremonies and receptions at the same place, at the same time. We commonly refer to these as wedding factories, and they are becoming more and popular due to the convenience of their all-in-one nature. Many ceremonies taking place at the same time and location can cause confusion among your guests, and put a damper on your celebration.
These are just some of the things that should be considered when choosing the location for your wedding ceremony and reception. Learn as much as you can, and establish a relationship with your venue's coordinator. Doing so can save a lot of aggravation and headaches on the big day. Thanks!