Here, There, But Not Just Anywhere

Guide To Selecting A Wedding Ceremony ( And Reception) Venue

By: Keely Coxon

Let's get right to it – the venue of your wedding ceremony and reception will probably be the one of the most determinant factors in every other detail of your big day, from your catering to your floral selections and even your dress. Therefore, as things always seem to go, it is also pretty much guaranteed to be one of the most stressful decisions of the wedding planning process. Today's choices of venue are nearly infinite in number, which, although nice if you know exactly what you want, typically just ends up stressing the bride- and groom-to-be even more.
Below is a (hopefully!) helpful guide to picking the perfect location for your dream day… because it's something that usually only happens once in a lifetime.
To begin, let us consider the time of year at which you are getting married. Unless you and your guests are Eskimos (or dressed accordingly), it's probably a given that you will want hold all of the wedding activities inside during the cooler months (say, November through February or March), as opposed to chattering your teeth out in an outdoor winter wedding. Coincidentally, it is also a great idea, at least in Utah, to have your wedding and/or reception indoors during the scorching-ly hot summer days. I have not yet discovered a brand of makeup that can withstand 105 degree temperatures without melting… and unless you're getting married in a swimsuit, that heavy silk and tulle dress probably isn't going to feel so great either. Fall and spring weddings are more flexible, and, depending on where you live or think you'd like to get married (or hold your reception), either is capable of supporting an indoor or outdoor ceremony/reception.
That said, don't think of your choice of seasons as a binding decision to get married inside or outside. There are plenty of workarounds to get you exactly what you want – you may just have to get creative about it. Say, for example, that you were dead-set on having a winter ceremony, but were considering the typical 30-degree high temperatures a bit of an obstacle to keeping yourself (as well as everyone else) happy. Well, no one says that you have to freeze your toosh off in a skimpy dress and no heat! Some brides these days are getting resourceful about holding their ceremonies/receptions in seemingly impossible locations, primarily through the use of electricity (I know, what a novel thought!). Outdoor winter wedding? Assuming that the cold is the only hurdle between you and perfection (and not, say, a blizzard), try strategically placing space heaters in the general vicinity of the ceremony and utilizing seasonally-appropriate warm food and beverage choices (hot chocolate bar anyone? Event planner Alina Dorsey at The Canterbury Place says that they're definitely coming into vogue!).
And for an outdoor mid-summer fete? Try planning your ceremony at a time of day when the temperature and UV rays are bearable, such as the morning or later in the evening… or bring in some subtle fan action. I say subtle because industrial-strength fans have the unwieldy ability to simultaneously ruffle the most iron-clad of wedding-day updos and suck unsuspecting floral arrangements into their wake, neither of which being things that most brides would like to retain as part of their wedding-day memories.
Once you've decided on having either an inside or outside ceremony/reception, next comes the actual venue selection and planning process. Given today's ‘wired' society, it is often most convenient to research possible locations online first, instead of making multiple trips to visit and re-visit them in-person. Some venues, such as Noah's Reception Center in Lindon, actually allow users to book their ceremony/reception rooms, including their chosen dates and times, completely online!
When you've narrowed it down to a few ‘possibilities,' it's then time to make an appointment to visit them in person (ask to be shown around with a event/reception planner at each location, if at all possible, as they can help to answer any questions you may have or provide you with helpful tips and ideas). If you've already worked out other details of your ceremony, such as a decided-upon color scheme, try to bring samples of what you had in mind, be it in the form of a fabric sample or even a sample table centerpiece. It will only streamline the planning process that much more when it comes time to know how many sets of table linens or number of flower arrangements that you will need. If not, read on!
When you've finally selected the perfect venue for your perfect day, it now comes time to get down to details…literally. You've got flowers to choose, decorations to think of and catering to consider. This, combined with choosing wedding day attire, most often accounts for the most stressful point in planning a wedding. As a result, many brides- and grooms-to-be are opting out of the hectic situation by choosing an all-inclusive package from their venue, says Dorsey, who deals with such details at The Canterbury Place. These simple packages, however, are anything but boring or bland; with each, there are still many possibilities to choose from that will allow for personal creativity and flair on your wedding day.
When you've made a final decision on a venue for your ceremony or reception, it's time to sign the contract and, if necessary, put down a deposit on your special location. Make sure that you get all discussed details in writing, so nothing is left up in the air as your wedding day draws near. If you end up changing your mind on certain details, be sure to let your event planner know well in advance; there may be room or decoration requirements that need to be taken into account-- things that you and I would normally never stop to think of, such as fire codes or the structural capabilities of the rafters you're hanging those fabulous swaths of linen across. Even if you don't make any changes in the plan, as you start to count down the days to your ceremony or reception, check in with your planner anyway, if only to say hi and make sure that everything is still a go.
Overall, says Dorsey, just keep in mind that what you're going to be left with at the end of your ceremony and reception is, basically, each other and hopefully a mind-full of amazing memories. So, go ahead and splurge on those table centerpieces or the more-expensive flowers that you want, if that's what will make you happy. It's not worth it to skimp on details and end up feeling as though your ceremony or reception was an exercise in compromise. You're marrying the man or woman of your dreams. This should be one of the happiest times of your life, not stress-induced wedding-planning purgatory. Of the entire process, Dorsey simply advises every stressed out bride- and groom-to-be to "make sure to breathe and just remember that it is YOUR special day!"