September 5, 2013

Choosing Your Wedding Location

Saint Thomas Anglican Church, Shanty Bay Ontario
What you need to know when choosing your wedding location.
You may already have a location in mind or perhaps you are having difficulties narrowing things down. The best way to start is by sitting down together as a couple and making some decisions about where you will like to have your wedding. Draw upon things that you enjoy doing together and perhaps select a location that is in keeping with this. At this point you will want to refer to your wedding budget and the number of guest you are inviting. It will also help if you have an idea of your desired wedding style. Having an understanding and agreement on these factors will assist you as you search for a wedding location.

Historic church in Shanty Bay, Ontario

If you already have an officiate in mind, speak with him or her and confirm what will be needed regarding any specific religious or cultural practices. It is also a good idea to book your ceremony before confirming your reception site. Most religious ceremonies are conducted in a place of worship, however you can also have a spiritual outdoor ceremony. Some officiates will not conduct a wedding outside of a traditional place of worship, while others are willing to do so. If you have your hearts set on a beach wedding, but strongly feel that your religious beliefs should be part of your union; I suggest giving yourself some time to find an officiate that is willing to conduct your ceremony at a non-traditional location.

It is important to identify what type of ceremony and cultural practices you will like to observe at your wedding. A civil ceremony may provide more flexibility; however, if you will like to have your wedding reflect your faith, then a traditional religious ceremony may be your choice. If this is the case then you will need to observe the rules and other practices of your given faith. Some religions require that you meet with your officiate several months prior to your wedding, and that you are a member of their congregation.

Garden wedding table

Things to Consider

1. How many guests do you want to invite, and what are their needs?
Working through your guest list will help you identify how many people you may have attending your wedding. The number of guests will determine the required capacity of the venue you will require. Identifying the needs of your guests is also important. Considerations may include allergies, dietary preferences, wheel chair access, and travel time to your wedding. Knowing who may be attending your wedding is therefore helpful when it comes to identifying what amenities are required and the accessibility of the space.

2. What are the rules pertaining to taking photographs on the day of your wedding?
This is something that you do not want to take for granted. You will want to confirm with both your ceremony and reception sites, about their rules and policies regarding photography and video.

3. Can you use any of your own vendors or are you required to use a list of "approved vendors"?
If you have chosen a wedding location that has a list of "preferred" or "approved" vendors, it is important to confirm the services of those other vendors, when you are making your decision. Their service offering and prices must be considered when it comes to your budget. This option will also limit your ability to use your own vendors.

4. What is included with your fees and how much do the extras cost?
Having a clear understanding of what you are getting is very important. Also remember to confirm the cost of every change that you make, to prevent any surprises.

5. Can the location accommodate the type of music you will like?
Different spaces have different acoustic properties and some rooms just sound better than others period. Churches are generally constructed with good acoustic design as hearing a service is important. The space you choose should be appropriate for the types of music you have in mind. You will also want to confirm if you can use your own DJ or musicians, and what equipment will be available for use on the day of your wedding. You will also want to confirm if there is any additional cost for audio setup and take down.

Wedding reception held at home in a rented tent
  • Select a ceremony and reception location that are within close proximity, and confirm your travel time between locations.
  • Confirm parking conditions and identify how accessible it is for your guest.
  • If you are from different cultures and you are having difficulty deciding what type of ceremony to have, consider having a neutral ceremony as a compromise.
  • When planning an outdoor wedding, plan for an alternative in case of inclement weather.
  • Visit the various sites at the time of day you intend to have your wedding; this will give you a sense of what the space will look like at the time of your wedding.
  • Remember to not only look at the ambiance of a venue, but also look at their menu options and arrange for a tasting.
  • When looking at potential wedding locations, take pictures so that you can remember what each one looks like and use the images as a guide as you continue your planning.
  • Confirm what staffing will be available for your wedding day.
  • Inquire about all permits you may need.

As last words of advise, I suggest staying on budget and to ask as many questions as possible to confirm what the fees will cover. I also suggest thinking outside the box and of locations that are non-traditional. There are beautiful gardens, museums and restaurants that can accommodate a wedding. If you are having an intimate wedding, consider having your wedding at home. Stay organized by keeping a binder with notes, business cards, pictures and other details that you collect.

Happy planning!


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Yvette-Michelle Cottle Darby | Editor-in-Chief and Founder
Yvette-Michelle is a bridal consultant and wedding coordinator in Greater Toronto, Barrie, and surrounding areas. With over twenty years of experience, crafty know-how, and a flare for style, she provides her clients with expert advice and the help they need to transform their creative wedding dreams into reality.