When it comes to finding a wedding ceremony location these days, possibilities are almost endless. Of course, the traditional route may be to get married in the church where you grew up. Or maybe even on your family’s property. For many couples, that may not be an option, or even a preference. The ceremony location very easily could be the same place as your reception, too. Often times chapels or churches may have a fee, even if you are a member. Venue costs can seem steep, but there are so many things to consider when finding the perfect venue. The reception site can very much set the tone and feeling of the wedding. Here are some of my favorite ideas for perfect venues:
Sherri J Photography
And, when all else fails, the steps of city hall aren’t looking too bad:
Wherever it may be that you decide, base the decision off of your style as a couple. Select a special place that means something to the two of you. Consider your options and get creative. I have friends who scanned Google Maps for a plot of land along the New England coastline because they wanted a garden by the sea reception, but the typical venues were either booked or out of their price range. They stumbled across a historic playhouse theater and they were able to rent it! As a head’s up though, going this route means renting pretty much everything and those costs may add up quickly. Just weigh your options as you look. It soon begins to make sense why inclusive venues cost what they do!
On the flip side, when you bring in your own rentals and catering, you can interview caterers and usually negotiate the menu costs! Some places like hotels or country clubs give you a limited selection at a fixed price, and the food costs can seem expensive (keep in mind- you probably won’t have to source out your linens or tables!). It may save you money in the long run to purchase linens from a wholesaler upfront just to sell them after it’s all said and done if you can bring those in yourself to a blank canvas of a space.
Take time to look at venues thoroughly enough to understand your options and advantages and disadvantages. This may be a time consuming process, which can take weeks, even months. Some couples, however, know exactly where they want to get married! Some even know what date they will be married. If you want a certain date, you may have to be more flexible about the location, depending on availability. If your heart is set on a particular venue, you may have to be flexible about when you’ll get married. Truth: popular venues book up quickly and far in advance. Consider getting married on a Friday or Sunday, and you may have more options!
We thought we knew where we wanted to get married, but we still tossed around several ideas. Steven’s family is very close with their church and to my surprise, they were actually shocked that we didn’t want to marry there. It was an hour away from where we live now and I had only visited a few times. If I had grown up there and if we were to begin our lives there after the wedding, it definitely would have been an option. But for us as a couple, it didn’t hold a special meaning. Needless to say, when we broke the news to his family that we weren’t getting married there, it didn’t go over that well at first. Eventually things ended up being just fine though.
We also considered getting married in Charleston, where we got engaged. The stress of planning a wedding five hours away quickly became overwhelming to me, so we nixed that idea! Not to mention, our top venue spot quoted us a price that was more than the entire wedding budget. True story. After much thought, Steven and I decided we’d get married in Raleigh, North Carolina, where we met and where we live now.
We were pretty open to where we could hold our reception, but we did know that we wanted to be married in a church or in a chapel. And so the drama of finding a church near a reception venue became an issue. Not yet having a church membership anywhere local started to become a problem. Also, many of the plantation styled homes and manors around our town charged the same cost for both aspects taking place, so it almost made sense to get married in the same place as the reception. For most of these spots, this meant getting married outside. I didn’t want to take my chances with that because my luck would be that it would rain (oh, and it did!). So we kept looking.
So badly I wanted to get married on campus, where I went to college. The chapel is adorable and I knew it would hold meaning to me because it’s where I met my best friends. Initially, I didn’t even consider it as an option because rumor had it that the chapel was booked for the next two years! We did find a cute wedding chapel downtown and we were just about to sign the contract, but I hesitated because I couldn’t stop thinking about my Alma Mater’s chapel. I knew I was probably pushing my luck by calling, but fingers crossed, there was a tiny ounce of hope. They actually had two openings! Since we were pretty flexible with getting married in the Spring/Summer of 2011, it worked out. One of the openings was in April, one in June. The June date was the same day of a huge race event on campus, so they could not guarantee the condition of campus once the time came for our ceremony or photos. Well, April it was!
This is what I would call a wedding high. When you’re planning a wedding, you quickly learn that things either go your way, or they don’t. Especially if you like to be involved and in control. Luckily there are many great weeks to bring up the frustrating times. Getting married started to feel more real once we had an actual date! Our happy luck continued as we were able to link up again with the woman who had showed us that chapel downtown (the one we almost booked).
We remembered her talking to us about her company’s most recently purchased spaces. It was an urban space in one of the old buildings downtown. She said we were welcome to take a tour, but it was definitely in the middle of the reno. She explained to us what changes were being made. She also said if things went along as planned, they would open about 6 months prior to our wedding date and so far, there had been very few bookings. They were wide open because the marketing plan hadn’t even started.
We booked the space, but I feel like we got lucky. All of the other reception locations we had considered were already booked for April 9th! In a way, we had no other option, but I also knew it was where we wanted to hold the celebration. It was only 15 minutes away from our ceremony site and the trip would take our guests right through the middle of my fiance’s Alma Mater’s campus. Perfect! Or was it?
Like I said, it was a construction zone. The first time we toured the space, the hardwood floors were unfinished, the exposed brick was dusty from the, there were tools everywhere. It looked like a warehouse dump! However, I could see the big picture. My fiance was getting nervous. He thought I was a little crazy, I’m sure. This is after looking at an elegant ballroom and beautiful plantation. I knew the venue would end up being gorgeous. It’s now one of the most up and coming reception spots in downtown Raleigh.Nancy Ray
Through my own experience, I will just stress that patience is key. As your wheels begin to spin in your head about where you may end up getting married, be open and be willing to go with the flow. At the same time, you want to hold true to your vision and your standards.
Good luck, brides! Please comment below with your venue questions!