Just like when you are picking your wedding date, choosing a location should be something that you think about but not too hard, and in the end it just feels right.
People vary wildly in their ideas of the “ideal” wedding place, so you should first talk to the other party involved. Do one of you have a church you grew up in, that your parents were married in, that you just have to also get married in? Now is a good time to go over that. If you have always dreamed of a destination wedding on a sandy white beach, bring that up. Give yourselves some time and space to talk it out with no judgment (no, “oh my God, no way are we getting married in that old dump of a church!” or “How stupid, who wants to be married in a dusty barn!??” or “We could never afford Wai Ki-Ki are you crazy??”).
Be sure to also discuss all the elements of the location that may end up being important to you. Some suggestions (but by no means a comprehensive list):
- Is there availability at your desired time?
- Does the location offer wedding planning or services?
- Are there hotels nearby for guests to stay in?
- What is the weather like in the time of year you’re considering?
- Will the location hold the amount of people you envision?
- Do you need to account for things like chair or tent rental?
- Where will you have the ceremony and the reception? Same place? Two places? How far apart are they?
- Do you want a church?
- Do you want it to be outdoors?
- Do you want decorations of a specific type?
- Will there be dancing? If so can you set up sound/dance floor?
- Can you bring your own vendors?
- Do you need any licenses/permits?
- Is there a deposit or location fee?
For travel destinations, more things to consider include:
- Do you need passports/other travel documents?
- How will you arrange flights/trains/busses/etc?
- Is it near where you’d like to honeymoon?
- Is it near an airport?
- Will you need to rent a car?
- How many of your planned guests will likely show up?
- What are the local laws about weddings?
- How do you go about obtaining a marriage license?
Once you have a general idea as a couple of what you want and what you are willing to negotiate on, you can consider locations. Think about where you live now, where you grew up, where you went to college, where your parents grew up. For some people, this is a no brainer and they have known since childhood that a specific meaningful place would be the place they are married. For others it will not be so simple.
What matters most is to be true to yourselves as a team, a unit, your location should be somewhere you both will feel happy and at ease. If your partner gets nauseated at the thought of crowds and attention, you should probably not plan a 400-person blow out at the biggest chapel in town and a black tie reception. If your true love cannot stand sand in their hair or clothes, sorry but a beach wedding should be crossed off the potentials list.
If you get stuck, you can always try:
- Asking around – you probably know tons of people who have planned or attended weddings. Ask your parents, grandparents, friends, coworkers, neighbors, the guy on the bus. Ask what weddings were memorable, in good ways and bad. Maybe they will mention something that lights a spark for you.
- Make a list – each of you alone, make a list of places that make you happy. List random things too, like maybe you love lighthouses, or caves, or mountains, or mansions. You never know what will spark an idea. Then compare your lists and see if the light bulb comes on.
- Google – the holder of all knowledge, Google is a wellspring of wedding location ideas. Beware here though, as wedding envy and overwhelm can easily sneak up on you as you browse front-page-worthy multi-thousands of dollars wedding settings. Always try to keep your dreams somewhat in the realm of reality.
At some point, you will narrow down your list. A few places should stand out as the most likely and most fitting. If you are able to, definitely go visit these places. Try to get a feel for the size of the space, what their amenities are (Is there a kitchen on site or will you have to bring in all your food already prepared? Do they have bathrooms and how many? A dance floor, music and speaker system? Can you bring in any vendors you want or is there a required vendor list to work off of?).
Always remember you do not have to commit to the first or second or twelfth place you see, until it feels right.
And just as in picking the time, at some point, you pick the place. You could argue pros and cons until the day you say “I do” but trust me, as long as your betrothed is at the front of the room waiting to say it back, you won’t care very much where that happens. Point, click, and trust that it will all work out.