Finding the Right Venue for You
People always ask me how they should go about finding the venue that is right for their wedding ceremony. So many people today are opting out of the traditional church wedding in favor of a location that is either more convenient to the reception, is unique to the city in which they are getting married, or has some sentimental meaning to the bride and groom. Before you choose a ceremony venue, there are some basic questions you should ask yourself.
First: How many people do you plan to invite to the ceremony?
The number of guest you expect to attend the ceremony largely determines where it can be held. For example, I recently planned the wedding of a couple who wanted to be married in the living room of the bride’s family home. The bride had such fond memories of family gatherings in this room she thought it would be the perfect place to be married. Although the idea was lovely, the practicality of hosting a ceremony in the family home was complicated. The couple originally expected to invite about 300 guests to their wedding. There was simply no way this number of guest could be accommodated in her parent’s home. I presented the bride and groom with two options, either have the ceremony at a location which could accommodate the large number of guests they planned to invite or have a small ceremony attended by immediate family only and invite the remainder of the guests to celebrate the marriage at a large reception later that evening. Because the memory of being married at home was important to this particular bride, they chose to have a smaller ceremony at the house and celebrated later that evening with a lavish reception for their friends and family. It’s important to choose a location that is accommodating to the number of guests you want in attendance at your ceremony while not sacrificing the sentimentality of the moment.
Second: Do I want to be married indoors or outdoors?
This is a very important question to ask yourself, particularly if you are planning a summer ceremony. If you are planning on marrying outdoors there are several things that you must consider. What is the weather like during the time of year you want to marry? Does the site you have chosen require special permission or a permit from anyone [if it’s Jackson Square you desire, you will have to go through the lottery at the Louisiana State Museum Office]? Will your guests be comfortable in the environment you have chosen? If it’s New Orleans and it’s summer, what about bugs? What about the heat? These are very real concerns with an outdoor ceremony. If you choose to have your ceremony indoors all of the above concerns can be controlled. Indoor weddings afford shelter from the weather, the environment and outside noise. However, some of the most beautiful ceremonies I have ever planned have taken place outdoors. My own daughter had an outdoor wedding in Audubon Park. It was stunning! You should have your wedding ceremony where it means the most to you and your fiancée, and you can! It’s all in the planning.
Third: How long will the ceremony take?
If you plan to have a traditional mass, then obviously a church is the place for your ceremony and you should plan for an hour to an hour and twenty minutes. If you are having a Rabbi or a Minister of another faith preside over your ceremony, then depending on your prefrence of readings and/or your minister’s remarks, this will take anywhere from twenty minutes to half an hour. Most reception venues have a three hour package. Which means that if your wedding starts at 7pm and your reception is scheduled to begin at 8pm and last until 11pm, the clock at your reception venue starts ticking at 8pm whether or not you are there! Length of ceremony, location of ceremony, and duration of ceremony all play a very important role in the success of your evening.
You can have a meaningful, sentimental, and religious (or not) ceremony in almost any location you choose. The trick is to make it work to your advantage and this comes from knowing what you want and planning accordingly.