Here comes you, the bride, down the aisle. But where?

Your hometown church? A museum or raw loft space, perhaps? A botanic garden? The family farm?

Couples getting married today have more options than ever for deciding where to get married. Church or synagogue weddings followed by hotel ballroom receptions remain the classic go-to, but the morphing wedding landscape is opening the door to more alternative venues – many of which double as both ceremony and reception location.

According to a Ceremony and Reception survey from The Wedding Report, the number of same-location indoor weddings increased nearly 20 percent from 2011 to 2012, with more than 45 percent taking place in an all-in-one spot. Is this to say you must have your ceremony and reception in one spot? No, of course not. But your venue – or venues – help set the tone for your wedding day, complementing your theme in everything from the décor to cuisine.

Get Started – Early!

Why? Well, popular venues can get booked well in advance. And though you may be engaged for a while – most surveys agree the average engagement period is 14 months – the sooner you start checking out venues, the better chance you have of landing the one you want. If you have your heart set on a specific location, let that dictate your date. If you’re more open on your venues, keep time in mind when deciding on a date; busy periods at work, high-traffic events in your area and nearby holidays are just a few things to consider when deciding if a date is doable, especially if you have a large number of traveling guests that will require accommodations.

If you’re getting married in one location, say a house of worship, and having your reception in another, get a list of all available dates for both spots and see which dates align.

Style & Simplicity

Throughout all the venue-picking, keep your wedding’s theme and style in mind. You obviously don’t want a large, open space if you’re having an intimate wedding with only a few guests, and vice versa.

If you’re going to have a lot of out-of-town guests who aren’t familiar with your area, it may be wise to go with a hotel location or a venue with one nearby, so that the overall logistics of the weekend remain simple.

Obviously, budget is a big thing when picking out your venue; overall, anticipate your reception (the space, dinner, drinks) to eat up half your budget. Many venues will have a “wedding package,” which includes obvious things like food and drinks but also some other items that may be less obvious. To get a handle on costs, keep these points in mind:


Most places will require that you spend a certain amount of money. Obviously, you’d like to be committed to the lowest possible tab, especially if your guest list isn’t large. Gratuity and/or service charges often are built in. If you’re spending thousands of dollars, a 1- to 2-percent difference between venues will make a big difference. And if you’re looking at spots in different townships, again, the slight difference in local tax can make a difference on your total bill.


Your per-entrée price is going to cover pretty much everything that’s included in your package. So, yes, you don’t want to pay more for the same entrée you could get at a different location, but you need to look a bit further. Are you paying a per-item price or at the rate of the highest menu item? Are appetizers included in your per-plate price or are they a separate, per-guest expense? Is there a dessert course in addition to cake?


How many hours of open bar are included in your package? How many bartenders will you have? How many beer selections do you get? How much is a package upgrade or additional hours of service? Is there wine service during dinner (when the bar typically is closed)? Is it unlimited or is there a limited per-table quantity? Is there a champagne toast and after-dinner coffee service? Are you able to bring in your own alcohol?

Cake & Flowers

Some venues may partner with local vendors to include your cake and centerpieces as part of your package, or they may have an in-house expert on staff. You pick out or design your creation, and they make sure it’s set to go for your big day. Does your venue do this?

© Brides 365