The Intricacies of Selecting a Wedding Venue!
One of the first things I ask a potential client during our initial consultation is “have you selected a venue?” Because let’s face it, finding the perfect venue is one of the top must haves when it comes to planning your wedding. There’s so many aspects that goes into finding the right venue for your wedding day, and a lot of details to consider. A question I get asked a lot from brides to be is if they should have their ceremony and reception at the same venue, or choose separate venues for each. Now first off, let me start by saying there is no right or wrong answer! It solely depends on the bride and groom, and what make sense for their vision for their wedding day.
I’ve planned both styles of weddings over the years. I’ve had weddings where the ceremony has been at a church or small outdoor venue, and the reception then took place at another facility close by (or even sometimes an hour away!) With these events we plan the logistics of the day including any necessary travel and ensure that guests know where they are going. But I’ve also planned events where everything is at one location, either at a resort, a farm, or other large venue that can house the reception and ceremony on their property. Sometimes the ceremony will be on one portion of their property with cocktails and reception on another part of the property, allowing my clients to get full access of a large rental space. Other times I’ve had clients who wanted their wedding guests to sit at their reception seats while the ceremony takes place on a platform or other riser.
With so many options for wedding day venues, it’s easy for a couple to feel overwhelmed. So today I’m breaking my top 3 pros and cons on having your ceremony and reception at the same venue.
Pros of Hosting Your Wedding at One Venue
1. Trim Your Wedding Budget & Save Money
With so many added costs to the wedding, anywhere you can find to save is a plus! Having your ceremony and reception in the same location will save your budget in multiple areas.
Venues cost money, even if you’re getting married at a church, there’s normally a fee associated with using their facility. When I break down the budget categories for my clients, I allot for 11% of their total budget to go to the cost of their venues. That includes ceremony and reception. Only paying for one venue frees up additional money that can be spent elsewhere in their budget.
Flowers are one of the largest costs in your budget. A great way to re-use and recycle floral décor is to move your “altar” arrangements to areas within your reception hall, such as the escort card table, or gift table. While this can be true even with two separate venues, the likelihood of arrangements becoming damaged in transport is greater if they are moved in a vehicle.
With two venues, you will be responsible for ensuring your wedding party makes it from point A to point B, normally in the form of a party bus or limo. This added cost can be eliminated, unless you are planning to take after ceremony photos at another location. In that case, sorry, you’ll still have to plan for means of transportation.
2. Easily Create Day-of Wedding Schedules
As a planner it’s my job to obsess about the day of timeline and schedule of events. Without having to plan for “travel time” in between the ceremony and reception, that allows for additional time for post-ceremony photos, or you can start your reception start time earlier, which in turn, could cut down on the cost of cocktails. Typically, you will allow for an hour after the ceremony ends before you begin your reception. When you’re creating your timeline, your cocktail hour does not include the time it takes for your guests to travel to your reception site. So, there may be an hour and half in between the ceremony and reception. This can greatly cut into your reception time, or force you to start your ceremony earlier than you would prefer.
With the same venue, when your ceremony is completed, your guests will immediately move to the designated cocktail area, which is only a few feet away. And while you and your wedding party are on the opposite side of the venue taking pictures, your guests are enjoying themselves. And, if you decide to do a First Look before the ceremony, that’s additional time you can spend being the best hostess and partying the night away with your friends and family. But that’s another whole topic in its self.
3. Considerations for Out of Town Guests
Considerations are made for out of town guests throughout the wedding planning process. When you have guests coming from out of town, they are not familiar with the area. Maps are added to invitations, your online website, and even printed and inserted into your programs. After all, you don’t want your guests to get lost! Different ceremony and reception venues means ensuring your guests have the correct directions. But what if there’s a wreck and they need to take an alternate route. How will you let your guests know how to get there? After all, you’ll be elsewhere taking pictures! Your guests will appreciate not having to navigate to and from multiple venues on your wedding day. All they will need is directions added to the website of inserted into their invitations to one venue. If your one stop venue happens to be at a hotel or resort, everything your guests will need is right where they are. This convenience to your guests will help them to feel welcome and comfortable at your wedding.
I could go on and on about why I love when my clients have their wedding at one venue. But, while there are great things about having your ceremony and reception at the same venue, there are also aspects that may deter you from making that decision.
Cons of Hosting Your Wedding at One Venue
1. Lack of Options for Ceremony & Recption Locations
Venues may offer the option of having your ceremony and reception at their site, but that doesn’t mean that they are fully equipped to handle both functions! Make sure that there is plenty of space for two separate areas. If there is only one large space, your guests will be sitting at the reception tables while watching the ceremony. Of course, we’ve had weddings like this, and they’ve been everything that the bride wanted. However, there are things to consider:
2. Religious Aspects & Traditions for your Wedding Day
I’m a firm believer that your wedding should be about what the bride and groom want and what they’ve envisioned for their wedding day. But in reality, a lot of brides want and need input from their parents, after all sometimes they are the ones footing the bill. When I got married, my father was ADAMANT that my husband and I would tie the knot inside of the church! No questions asked, no other options! And we were to be married by the same preacher who married my parents AND my mom’s parents. It had become tradition. While I longed for a wedding ceremony in a secluded garden followed by a tented reception with picturesque views, that wasn’t my reality.
When you pick one venue to host your ceremony and reception, you’re not going to have a ceremony inside of a church. (Unless you’re getting married in the rustic Italian country side in an historic cathedral with an elaborate courtyard attached for a reception…. One can dream right!) Now, that being said, just because you’re getting married outside of the walls of the church, does not mean you can not have a meaningful and religious ceremony outdoors, in a banquet hall, or anywhere else you see fit.
3. Wedding Guests Can Feel Isolated from Surroundings
While this won't be a concern for local wedding guests, those who are coming from Out of Town and have never been to your city, would more than likely enjoy seeing more than just one view during their stay. When you are hosting your wedding at a hotel, where everything is in one place, that limits your traveling guests from seeing all that your town has to offer. Now granted, wedding weekends don't leave much time for site seeing, having your wedding at two seperate locations apart from their lodging, allows your guests to get a glimpse of what makes your city or town unique.
Most of the time, in destination weddings, everything will be at the host hotel. That's to be expected. However, we also like to plan in special group activities for the wedding party and guests to site see and tour the area while they are there. This allows for a better guest experience, and also helps to relieve pre-wedding jitters by having fun with your friends and family.
When you’re choosing your wedding venue, and you’re considering having your ceremony and reception at the same location, be sure to consider all of the pros and cons that pertain to your wedding. Everyone’s preference is different, and what may be a pro to me, may actually be a deal breaker for someone else. Make a list of what is important to you and what your must haves are for your wedding. As you begin touring venues, refer to your list and make notes. Does this venue meet all of your requirements? Will my guests be comfortable? But most importantly, ask yourself can you vision your wedding day at this venue?
Regardless if you decide to book separate venues or one, venue searching will be one of the first and most important tasks you do in your planning process. But it doesn’t have to be stressful! Grab a free copy of my venue tour worksheets. You won’t have to worry about asking the wrong questions when you’re touring venues, and there’s a space for you to keep all of your notes. Gather all the pertinent information you need to choose the best venue for your fabulous wedding day! Let me know in the comments how the Venue Selection Worksheet helped you with your wedding planning!
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