So you said yes! Woohoo! Love is in the air, and a wedding is on the way – congratulations. Planning your wedding should be as exciting as the event itself, but in all honesty, it’s quite the herculean task: there are just so many choices to make! Perhaps the most important of these choices is finding dream wedding venue ideas. Where will you host your special day?
Thankfully, here at Easy Event Planning, wedding planning is, well, easy. To aid you in your brainstorming, search, and final decision on your wedding venue, we’ve compiled a list of steps and potential venues to help you narrow down the perfect site for your event, stress-free.
Dream Wedding Venue Guide
Here’s a list of considerations to help you decide what you need and want for your ideal wedding venue.
1. Budget, Baby
Before we begin, let’s just be frank for a moment: weddings are expensive! There’s no way around it. However, entering the planning process with a budget is the best thing you could do for you and/or your family’s wallet. How much are you willing to spend on a venue? What services would you like that price tag to cover? Keep your budget in mind before visiting various venue options: you don’t want to fall in love with a place you can’t afford. If you plan ahead and budget carefully, you can stretch your dollars to the max and secure the venue of your dreams!
2. Everything in Season
During what time of year would you like to get married? Season affects weather, and weather affects venue choice. Peak wedding season is from late spring to early fall, with highs in June and September. Venues will be more expensive during this period, but the weather is generally nicer. Plus, people tend to be less busy during the summer months, so it may be easier to get family members to attend your ceremony during this time. Don’t let time limit you, however. Talk to your most valued guests and get their input before settling on a time and place.
3. Save the Date
When you decide on a season, be very careful about potential conflicts with your chosen date. Things like graduations or significant holidays can divide guests’ obligations, so it’s always best to strategically pick a date on which you know people will be free. In addition, co-occurring events at or near your venue can affect parking and noise levels during your ceremony. Try to pick a date you know will be perfect for your special day – without distractions.
4. Wedding Size
How big is your party going to be? Come up with your full guest list and ensure that the maximum amount complies with the limitations of your venue options.
5. Venue Generalities
- Here’s a small checklist of questions you’ll need to answer when brainstorming your ideal venue:
- Will your wedding be indoors or outdoors? (or both – some weddings have an outdoor ceremony and indoor reception, or vice versa)
- Will the time of day affect the way the venue looks? (for example: will the sun be in your eyes during a 5 pm wedding ceremony? Is it well-lit at night?)
- Will your ceremony and reception occur at the same facility? If not, how will guests travel from one place to another?
- Will guests be able to find the venue on their own?
- How far is your guests’ lodging from your venue?
- What’s the parking situation like?
- Is your venue handicap accessible?
Once you’ve answered these questions, look into facilities that accommodate the most important things on this list. Most wedding venues will have already thought through these questions and will be ready to accommodate your needs.
6. Venue Specifics
Always read the fine print of your contract! Check the parameters each venue gives for setup and cleanup of your ceremony and/or reception. Some venues have a curfew/closing time, so make sure any limitations of the location comply with your desired timetable for the day. In addition, some venues limit noise levels (think churches) or specific activities, such as flash photography and wedding toss traditions. Checking the specifics of your venue contract beforehand will ensure that your wedding day will be smooth sailing without unpleasant surprises.
7. Religious or Civil Ceremony
Will your ceremony be religious or secular? Your decision on this matter may affect your choice of venue. Chapels, temples, synagogues, and other houses of worship can act as perfect religious ceremony locations, and many of these locations include reception halls as well. Churches can be excellent ceremony venues even for nonreligious ceremonies! However, it’s important to consider both you and your partner’s religious beliefs as well as those of your guests before finalizing a place.
8. Just Officiant Things
Make sure that your selected officiant will perform at your chosen venue. Some officiants, particularly religious ones, will only perform at specific locations (i.e. churches). It’s always good to ask your officiant ahead of time what his/her limitations are.
9. Be Creative!
Indoor, outdoor, casual, formal, traditional, modern – pick a venue that expresses YOU in the best way possible! The venue usually determines the theme, so it’s good to keep colors, accents, and decorations in mind when making your final venue decision.
Dream Wedding Venue Ideas: Indoor Options
Now that you have a foundation for what you want your venue to include, here’s a comprehensive list of wedding venue ideas, with pros and cons of each venue, to get you started on your search!
Pros: The ultimate one-stop-shop of wedding planning. Because the ceremony and reception will take place in the same building, you can eliminate all transportation considerations. Plus, guests have a place to relax between events, and you might get great savings on room rates.
Cons: Not the most creative option. Also, some venues have limited seating.
2. House or Private Residence
Pros: Get married at home! You’ll save so much money, and you’ll get to relive childhood memories while saying goodbye to your old life. Friends and family can help you with prep and decorations, which saves a boatload of labor costs. Plus, you’ll have lots of decorative freedom, especially if the homeowner is a good friend or relative.
Cons: If you choose to cater or rent decorations/supplies, possible downsides to an at-home wedding include high rental, storage, and insurance costs. Plus, there usually isn’t too much space in a house for a lot of guests, so it’s really only an option for more intimate gatherings. Plan to keep noise levels low during the event, so you do not bother neighbors.
3. Church, Temple, or Synagogue
Pros: Provides a traditional ceremony location that could honor your family and religion on your special day. Many religious spots can be quite breathtaking, too, and hold a large number of people.
Cons: Houses of worship, while beautiful, can limit your decorative freedoms a bit. Plus, nonreligious guests or family members may have varying degrees of comfort about being in a religious building.
4. Country Club
Pros: With beautiful scenery and room for many guests, country clubs are great for ceremonies and receptions alike. Many country clubs have separate rooms for ceremonies and receptions, the latter of which includes ample space for dancing.
Cons: You may have to plan to order extra decorations, music, and dining services at an additional cost, as the club may not offer these services.
5. Mansion or Estate
Pros: These venues can fit massive amounts of people and feature a range in architectural styles. Pick a mansion that fits the style of your wedding and feel like a princess for the day.
Cons: As estates like these have become quite a hit, they often tend to be booked up. Not to mention, they tend to be pricey. Book the venue very far in advance for a good deal.
6. Government Building
Pros: Government buildings can provide a unique architectural style backdrop for your wedding. The indoor architecture and decor tend to be upscale and chic as well. Because these places are publicly funded, you’re likely to save on rental costs. Plus, on-site flowers will reduce the price you pay on florals.
Cons: Civic sites may offer strict time frames and beverage limits. Find out all preparation and event time limits before choosing a site venue.
7. Yacht Club
Pros: Oh, the luxury. Yacht club buildings tend to have large windows overlooking the water and the club’s many boats. They’ll usually allow for ample decorative freedom, and often include a full-service bar and restaurant. This is an excellent option for couples who love luxury and the feeling of being on the water.
Cons: More often than not, yacht clubs are exclusive and are only willing to host weddings for members. They also don’t always have a room quite large enough to host a wedding with a hefty guest list.
Pros: Why decorate when you’re getting married in a museum? These are great sites if you have a special attachment to the location (maybe it was the site of a first date!).
Cons: Expense. (Just think of the revenue costs they would lose shutting down for a day!) There would likely be mandatory security guards in and around the premises to protect the displays. In addition, you’d have to have your reception off-site, as there will be no food and beverages allowed anywhere near the displays.
9. Performance Hall or Theatre
Pros: Imagine getting married on a stage! For actors, theatre lovers, or just dramatic couples, getting married in a performance hall is a great option.
Cons: The space could be too big for a smaller wedding and may be poorly lit (at least for the guests). Plus, it may be a bit tricky to book.
10. Art Gallery
Pros: Again, no décor needed! Art galleries are not only great for art lovers, but for those that want to have an upscale, formal affair as well.
Cons: Each gallery has different space capacities, so it’s essential to do your research before settling on one that might not accommodate your guest list. Price and strict rules (including security) may also be an issue. Consider the site of your reception before booking your ceremony here, as you will have to transport your party there somehow.
Dream Wedding Venue Ideas: Outdoor Options
Pros: Just like an at-home wedding, backyard weddings are wonderful for smaller, family-oriented weddings.
Cons: While cost-effective, elegance is limited. Space will be limited, too.
12. By a River or Lake
Pros: Imagine the pictures! Natural settings near bodies of water make excellent wedding ceremony sites, and it usually isn’t too hard to book a reception site nearby. Play up the natural beauty of the area by waiting for the trees to change colors, or for the flowers to be in full bloom.
Cons: Be mindful that a site by the water could be both windier and buggier than an alternative site.
13. Top of a Mountain
Pros: For unmeasurable views, beauty and seclusion, choose the top of a mountain for your ceremony. Great for climbers, hikers, and all-around nature enthusiasts.
Cons: Mountains aren’t exactly the warmest locations, so make sure you pick a date and time that accounts for the weather. Plus, there may be some transportation and parking issues if you don’t carefully plan your route and guest list. For mountainous spots on a national park or government land, make sure to obtain the appropriate permits and permissions.
14. In a Cave
Pros: Yes, you can get married in a cave!! Have your guests go underground to get to your location and line their path with candles for a romantic, yet mysterious journey to your ceremony. Minimal decorations are needed (nature did it for you!), and the lighting inside the cave is usually pretty spectacular.
Cons: Though cave weddings have been done before, they can be difficult to pull off. Not all caves are handicap accessible, and they can be frightening for claustrophobic guests.
15. Gardens at a Historical Home
Pros: Just like a mansion or estate wedding, garden weddings at these sites showcase the rich history of older homes while celebrating the newness of your union.
Cons: Due to historical societies working so carefully to preserve these places, often, it is hard to bring in decorations that could threaten to change or alter a single thing about the estate. For the same reason, these locations tend to be pricey.
16. Winery or Vineyard
Pros: The gently sloping vineyards of a winery are the perfect backdrop for any outdoor wedding. Many wineries also have beautiful indoor venues on the property, so in case of inclement weather, you can still have the romantic wedding of your dreams. Wineries also come with the added bonus of an excellent selection of local wines for you to enjoy on your wedding day.
Cons: Some quaint wineries are smaller and harder to fit a large guest list. In addition, you have to use their wine, not your own.
17. Golf Course
Pros: A golf course is a gorgeous, romantic setting. The rolling greens are always immaculately maintained and give an air of sophistication to any event. They are also generally quiet and peaceful, making them the perfect venue for a relaxed wedding.
Cons: While the greens are immaculate, there may not be the kind of floral background in this outdoor setting that a couple, especially the bride, may want. Some feel this is a more masculine wedding venue.
18. Walt Disney World
Pros: What’s better than starting your life together at the happiest place on earth? Whether you’ve envisioned Mickey and Minnie making an appearance at dinner or just want the beautiful castle in the background, the folks at Disney can offer a wide range of choices. Your guests can enjoy spending a few days before or after your wedding playing in the parks too!
Cons: The magic of Disney comes with a pretty large price tag, and while they give you some creative license with your wedding decorations, your creativity will come at a premium.
19. Boat or Yacht Cruise
Pros: Get married on the seas! The luxury of being on the water is not a feeling you’ll soon forget. Most boats willing to host weddings include packages that include a full-service bar and catering, so you likely won’t need outside vendors.
Cons: Space is a consideration, as not all boats can accommodate large parties. Rental rates may also be quite high. It’s also a good idea to check your guests’ sea legs beforehand, as seasickness may be an issue for some people.
Pros: For a location that truly feels like the great outdoors, hold your ceremony at a local or national park. Find a quiet, open space in the park amongst plenty of large trees.
Cons: As we’ve mentioned before, many national parks are government-controlled, and probably have strict rules on things such as decorations and guest lists. Make sure to get the right permits and permissions before inviting your guests.
21. Botanical Garden
Pros: For free décor, hold your ceremony in a botanical garden. Just think, you won’t have to worry about buying flowers!
Cons: Botanical gardens are usually pretty pricey, and you may have to hold your reception at a different venue.
Pros: Are you and your fiancé scuba diving enthusiasts? Get married underwater! Don scuba gear over your wedding dress (or rent a white wetsuit!), grab some diving slates for written vows and tie the knot mermaid-style. Host your reception on a boat or a nearby beach.
Cons: You can’t just take your entire wedding party underwater, so you’ll have to have your guests watch via live video feed. In addition, boat receptions may leave guests a bit seasick.
Pros: Whether you’re flying to the Bahamas or driving to Malibu, beaches provide an unmatched atmosphere of relaxation and beauty that is perfect for your wedding. A beach wedding is great for the couple that prefers to kick off their shoes and have fun! Beach weddings are also very low maintenance in terms of décor.
Cons: You will have to closely watch the tides and weather, as you don’t want Mother Nature to ruin your special day. Also be mindful that your hairstyle will be windblown, and sand will get everywhere. It’s all part of the fun!
Do we hear wedding bells ringing? We hope this list of dream wedding venue ideas helped you solidify your plans and has greatly helped you along your wedding planning journey.
Still haven’t decided on your perfect venue? We’ll help you out – Easy Event Planning connects you to hundreds of local vendors that will be perfect for your wedding, with offers and pricing delivered right to your inbox. Make an account with us today!