Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Wedding Reception Sites

We've talked about keeping your wedding simple and stunning. But those elements can translate to all sorts of venues.

Make a list of the different sorts of venues you have in your area that would be perfect for your reception. Consider estates or historic mansions if they are available, or observatories, museums, botanical gardens, country inns or theaters. Don't forget marinas, ball fields, or other spots connected to hobbies. We have an old ore steamer around for lease as well - with an outstanding caterer offering wonderful wedding feasts! Your venues are limited only by your imagination.

Visit each site you are considering and take a photo. Have photo prints made and then compare each locale. (Make sure these prints are at least 8 x 10 each so you can really see what you are getting)

List the pros and cons for each venue. For instance, if you or your caterer has to schlep all your wedding decorations, wedding favors, tables, chairs, tents, etc., into a remote but beautiful venue, determine what it will add to your wedding budget and if it is worth it!

My cousin had his wedding in a renovated 1930's movie palace lobby with a gorgeous staircase leading down from the mezzanine. It was the first time this site had ever been used for a wedding - now it's a regular occurrence. The caterers had to set tables all around the mezzanine for dinner, however they used the lobby floor as the dance floor.

For the bar, every time someone needed a drink, you had to traipse up and down the grand staircase. If he were to hold it there now, he would have rearranged the site so that there were two bars, or just held everything on one level.

All this doesn't mean that you can't hold your reception in a usual location - function halls, hotels, or country clubs. These are still the most popular venues for wedding receptions. Just remember that during the peak wedding months of April through October, competition for these wedding sites can be really fierce and you may not get your first choice for your wedding day.

If you are holding your wedding during this time period, plan on looking for your reception sites at least a year in advance. Put a reminder on your calendar as soon as you are engaged to determine the date and location!

When you hold a wedding reception at an unusual venue, odds are that you will pay a bit more to secure these non-traditional sites, but their availability may be more in keeping with your calendar.

Just remember that if your venue is outdoors, having a contingency plan - usually a large tent - is necessary to ensure a place to go if there are weather issues. I remember attending a wedding held at a lovely park, the day after a massive thunderstorm. Everyone was sinking in the mud - a situation that would have been alleviated had there been a tent with a dance floor.

Odds are that a non-traditional venue will make your wedding as unique. Just be sure to weigh the cost against all that you will or will not get for your money. In unusual settings, the venue won't be a backdrop to your wedding, but an integral part of your reception. Make sure it makes a statement about who you are as a couple and what you are expecting from your life together!

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