Wedding Venues 101

Posted by Kim on Jan 15, 2013

Looking for a wedding venue that fits your needs can be one of the trickiest (and unfortunately, stressful) parts of wedding planning. Happily, once you’ve booked your venue, the rest of the planning process will fall into place easily (we promise!). But how do you even start searching for a wedding site? First, you’ll need to pick what venue “style” most suits your personality. Here’s a mini-glossary of wedding venue types to help you get started. And don’t forget to check out our Vendor Reviews to find the perfect wedding locale near you.

Photo by Anna and Spencer Photography

Ballroom: Want a wedding that’s grand, elegant, and formal? There’s nothing like a richly appointed ballroom. Ideal for black-tie weddings with a big guest list, ballrooms (either in hotels or other historic sites), often have in-house catering and rentals to make the planning process a snap. But it’s important to note: When choosing a color scheme for a ballroom wedding, you’ll have to take the room’s permanent fixtures into account – from the carpeting to the chandeliers to the wall color. You wouldn’t want your flowers and other decor to clash with what’s already there.

Photo by Carolina Studios by Gillian Reinhardt

Beach: Laid-back, relaxed, and fun. If those words describe your ideal wedding, look into beach venues. The sand and surf provide a scenic space, without needing much added decor. And whether you’re hosting a large wedding or just a few guests, a beach will work. Just make sure to carve out a semi-private space for your ceremony – the last thing you’ll want is noisy beachgoers interrupting your romantic moment.

Photo by Riverland Studios

Country or Golf Club: If your family belongs to a country club or golf club, it might be the ideal venue for your wedding day (and even if not, there are some clubs that allow non-members to host an event on premises). Country club weddings often have a preppy vibe, but you can use flowers and other decor to create a wedding to fit your personality.

Photo by Powell Pictures

Garden or Vineyard: Have you always dreamed of getting married surrounded by natural beauty? A garden or vineyard may be the venue for you. An outdoor wedding often needs very little added decor, but you’ll have to make sure there’s a backup plan in case of inclement weather on your wedding day.

Photo by Orchard Cove Photography

Historic Home: A wedding at a historic home or mansion can be both scenic and romantic, especially for a more intimate celebration. When hosting a wedding at a historic venue, make sure you’re aware of all of the rules and regulations – some sites have a strict beginning and end time for weddings, or might not allow candles.

Photo by William Innes Photography

Backyard: There’s nothing more personal than getting married in your own backyard – we love a backyard wedding’s casual feel. However, be aware that you’ll need to have a firm rain plan in place in case of inclement weather – and you’ll need to make sure that bathroom, climate control, and kitchen facilities are brought in for your guests’ comfort.

Photo by Melissa Copeland Photography

House of Worship: A wedding at a church, synagogue, or other house of worship can be extremely meaningful and personal. Consider whether you’d like to have just your ceremony at a house of worship, or, if there’s a reception room available, the whole wedding day. Make sure you’re aware of any rules – no flash photography, for example – before making your decision.

Photo by Jordan Quinn Photography

Modern Loft or Art Gallery: If you’re not one for tradition, a modern space – like a loft or art gallery – might be the venue for you. These types of venues often serve as “blank slates,” which allow you to bring in flowers, lighting, and other decor to create a space that fits your personality and style. It requires a bit of extra work, but the results are usually worth it.

Photo by Kevin Vu Le Photography

Museum, Zoo or Aquarium: If you’re looking for a unique venue that will wow your guests, consider marrying in a museum – or at your city’s zoo or aquarium. Yes, it’s a little quirky to marry alongside a dinosaur skeleton or a giraffe exhibit, but it’s a unique experience that your guests won’t soon forget. Just make sure you’re aware of any rules the museum might have for events – and make sure your rowdy guests are kept away from any breakables!

Photo by Austin & Dara Photography

Barn or Ranch: A wedding that’s more cowboy boots than ballgowns requires a venue like a farm, barn, or ranch. Rustic weddings are usually casual and fun, but it’s important to make sure your guests’ comfort is taken into account as well. Make sure the facility is climate controlled, and that you have a rain plan just in case.