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By: Jordan

Perhaps the most important piece of the wedding planning puzzle is the location. Location meaning: city in which you will get married, venue that will host the ceremony, and venue that will host the reception. All of these elements create your location and without nailing them down, your planning stands at a halt. No location, no date. No date, no invitations. No invitations, no RSVP’s. No RSVP’s, no guest count. No guest count, no catering, no centerpiece count, no party favors. The list goes on! So, it’s understandable that picking a location can sometimes be the trickiest part of planning a wedding.

Fortunately, there are a few tips to keep in mind that will help the process go as smoothly as possible. First, the logistics. The worst thing you can do to yourself is create your dream wedding in your head and then be forced to adjust and edit when certain logistics just won’t allow for that hot air balloon to carry you off after your reception. So, do yourself a favor and come up with some initial guidelines including:

  • Date preferences. Be ready with 3 or 4 dates that work for both you and your fiance. Be sure to get input from some key players as well, such as parents, officiants and bridal party.
  • Budget. Once again, this will determine the extent to which you can dream, so be realistic and stick to a number. Also be aware of the “extras” most venues charge for gratuity, taxes, using outside vendors, etc. They’ll nickel and dime you if you let ’em!
  • Estimated guest count. You should have a general idea of the number of guests you’d like to have at your wedding.  Every venue will give you their capacity, so this is an easy way to rule out certain locations.  This is another area where you’ll want to be aware of extra charges. Some venues will charge you in increments per 50 guests up to their capacity.
  • Decide whether or not you want the ceremony and reception to take place at the same location, or if that matters either way. Keep in mind that some churches require you to be a member to use their facility if you plan on getting married somewhere other than your home church.

Once you have these parameters in place you can start searching for that perfect location! The internet is obviously a great way to get some basic information on the venues you like, but I would suggest calling as well. You’ll get a feel for the atmosphere of the venue just by speaking to the event coordinator. This is also a good time to ask some of those questions that may not be answered on the website, and then allow you to make an appointment to visit the space in person should it meet your requirements.

When you are ready make site visits, try to schedule them all for one day. It may take 8 hours, but at the end, you’ll have everything fresh in your mind so that decision making can be easy.  While you’re there, be sure to take pictures and ask lots of questions, preferably all of the same ones at each venue. Get a feel for the space, the event planner, the atmosphere and the “game day” logistics.

But, most importantly, go with your gut!

When Adam and I picked a location for our wedding, I had a pretty strong idea of what I wanted. All of the venues would have worked well, but in the end, our perfect location came to be simply because I went with my intuition. I fell in love with a reception venue, and although it didn’t fit into my original concept, it was perfect. Pair that with a fairytale ceremony site (seen in the photo at the top of the post) and we couldn’t be more excited about the final location of our wedding!

So, if you’re planning a wedding and feeling overwhelmed, know that that’s normal. Also know, however, that it doesn’t have to be stressful and can actually be very exciting by setting your entire planning process in motion. Take some time to establish some personal requirements and, remember, trust your gut along the way!

Below is a sneak peek at our reception venue. I promise to share more photos after the blessed occasion, so stay tuned!