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Thursday, Feb. 18, 2016 12:06 am

Find the perfect place for you

Indoors or out, set the perfect mood for your wedding by choosing an idyllic setting to tie the knot. Follow these five steps to finding your dream venue.

Nate Robinson and Leslie Piphus had their ceremony at Abundant Faith Christian Center in Springfield.


Traditional churches, rustic barns, urban warehouses, scenic gardens or ornate ballrooms – just about anywhere has the potential to be your perfect wedding venue. But with so many choices available to the modern bride, how do you choose?

Have a vision
Before you begin visiting venues, you should have a clear idea of the theme or overall style of your wedding. Ask yourself: “When I imagine my wedding and reception, what do I see?”

You can create an inspiration board using tools like Pinterest – 54 percent of brides use Pinterest to communicate their wedding-day vision to planners and vendors according to the 2014 American Wedding Study from Brides magazine. What you pin will help guide the way toward the right space for your wedding.

“If they’re visualizing candlelight and twinkly lights and champagne flutes, then I know it’s going to be a more laid back, romantic, nighttime wedding,” says Carolyn Miller, owner of Creative Celebrations in Portland, Oregon. “On the other hand, if they’re seeing bright colors and outdoors and all kinds of activity, then that’s a whole different vision for the day.”

You don’t have to have every detail set in stone before venue hunting, but having a broad idea of the style will help you and your planner to narrow down the candidates to find the perfect match.

When to start
It’s not unusual for popular locations to get booked a year (or more) in advance, so the sooner you start, the better your chances of finding and securing your perfect place.  The venue selection truly sets the foundation for your wedding and can determine everything from the date to vendor selection to guest count. Miller recommends being as flexible as possible when it comes to dates, letting the venue dictate the day rather than the other way around.

Know the costs
As expected, the venue takes up a major part of the budget – couples spent an average of $13,385 on the reception hall, according to TheKnot.com’s 2013 Real Weddings Survey.

A multitude of factors can contribute to the price tag, including any required in-house vendors. Some venues require the use of a particular caterer or wedding planner, while others come with hidden costs like extra cake cutting fees or have a required food/drink minimum (if catering is included). Just make sure to go over your venue contract carefully and ask plenty of questions to know what is and isn’t included.

Sure, the venue has the right look and the right price, but does it provide all the other elements needed to host a large group of people?

“Some couples have a misconception that every venue that they look at is going to provide everything they need,” says Brandon Rich, a wedding planner and venue coordinator in Nashville. “Some venues are an empty box where you’ve basically rented a floor, walls and a ceiling, and that’s it.”

Consider any extra rentals (tables, chairs, etc.) a site will require and plug them into the budget. Also take note of logistical concerns like parking and restrooms – are there enough for the number of guests?  The simpler the space, the more customizable it is to fit your personality and vision. However, this can also add to décor costs and may make the logistics challenging.

Outdoor venues
Wedding locations in picturesque fields or beaches are beautiful but also come with a unique set of difficulties. Outdoor settings aren’t traditional facilities, so every part of the wedding has to be manually brought in.

“Every glass, every table, every piece of ice, all the food, all the beverages, everything – it’s like camping for 250 people,” says Miller of outdoor weddings.

You also should note the added expense of people to help set up and tear down.

Another factor to consider with open-air locales is the surrounding atmosphere. Is it noisy? Does it smell? What is the contingency plan for inclement weather?

“When you look at a picture, you don’t feel heat, you don’t feel cold, you don’t smell smells, you don’t hear noise, all you see is the pretty picture,” Rich says.

All of these factors can affect your wedding and turn a perfect location into a nightmare, so make sure to visit the venue and have backup plans in place.


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