Wedding 101: Wedding Locations

From the beach to the church to backyard ceremonies, picking the location for your ceremony and reception can be tough. We previously talked about the 3 important factors to keep in mind when deciding on a wedding ceremony locations (Wedding 101: Picking a Wedding Venue) But now, we’ll break down those different options.

The Traditional Location:

What it is: A religious ceremony, often in the bride’s hometown, followed by a party at a reception hall.

Good for: Couples with religious ties, a significant connection to a hometown, and a sizable guest list. Many halls can accommodate 100 to 400 people and come complete with everything you need (silverware, dinnerware, food, alcohol, and linens), saving you money in the end.

What to know: When the ceremony needs to be scheduled and what time your reception can begin. Catholic churches, for instance, normally want the ceremony to be completed by 3 or 4 p.m. on a Saturday, leaving time to prepare for the five o’clock service. But most reception halls won’t cater to guests until 6 or 7 p.m.

At Home:

What it is: A ceremony held at someone’s residence.

Good for: Twosomes with a connection to a childhood house or with access to a grand home. Or a pair who want a more, well, homey celebration in their own pad and aren’t afraid to work for it.

What to know: While it might seem as if a backyard wedding could be a money-saver, it just might break the bank. No, you’re not spending $200 a plate at a reception hall, but consider the extras you may need to rent. You will be responsible for supplying every fork, knife, table, and linen, and the bigger-picture details can also fall on you: generators for the band, a rented floor to cover the lawn, extra restrooms (you’ll need one portable toilet for every 50 guests), a fire extinguisher, and a tent in case of rain. Rentals for all of the above can cost upwards of $5,500. Plus, you’ll have to spray the grounds for bugs, mow the lawn, deal with any home improvements, and figure out parking (a valet company can cost around $2,000).

Resources: Contact your city or town hall to ask whether you need a permit and to obtain information on noise and traffic ordinances, fire codes, and tent permits. And call your homeowner’s insurance company to inquire about taking out an umbrella policy for the day. The cost is normally a few hundred dollars, but if someone gets hurt, you’ll be protected.


What it is: A getaway―usually somewhere exotic, like a resort―with activities that span a weekend.

Good for: Duos who have a connection to a location or want just close loved ones (up to 75 people) to attend. Many resorts offer all-inclusive packages for everything from a guest welcome to a farewell brunch, making the planning process a cinch.

What to know: Marriage-license rules vary from city to city and country to country. Some cities, like Venice, require that you file for a license a minimum of four days prewedding, while other locations demand blood tests and X-rays (for example, Guadalajara, Mexico). Also, know that destination weddings aren’t always more expensive than those at other locales; the cost depends on where you go and how elaborate the celebration is. However, they may be more expensive for your guests, who usually have to fork over more to attend. As a courtesy, try to restrict the travel time to about two hours by air or six hours by car.

Quirky Location:

What it is: A ceremony somewhere off the beaten path, such as a museum, a barn, an art gallery, a botanical garen, a civic center, or a sports venue.

Good for: A couple who wants a unique event. Costwise, price tags are all over the map, but it’s possible to bargain at these locations―weddings aren’t their primary source of business, so the numbers may not be set in stone. For example, at some museums and galleries, you can purchase a membership and receive a discount.

What to know: Be sure to get―in writing―information on whether the place has a liquor license, can house your head count, and can execute a fire plan (some cities may require you to hire a fire marshal). Also ask if you need liability insurance, which costs around $200 and covers from $250,000 to $1,000,000 in liability for accidents or property damage, depending on your policy. You can usually buy it about two weeks beforehand.



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