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Wedding Sites

Weddings can be hosted in a variety of venues including a private residence or a church.

Some couples may elect to stage their ceremony in a church. [©Shutterstock, 2010]
©Shutterstock, 2010
Some couples may elect to stage their ceremony in a church.

Wedding Sites

Wedding sites include both the location of the wedding ceremony and the reception following the ceremony. Although the general rule is to book the ceremony and reception sites a year before the wedding date, couples increase their chances of reserving the sites for the desired time and date by putting down a deposit as soon as possible. Popular wedding venues generally staff an employee who is in charge of coordinating weddings. Other options for wedding sites include churches, travelling to an exotic location and tying the knot in a private residence.

Choosing a Ceremony Site

When choosing the site for a wedding ceremony, perhaps the most important consideration is the number of guests. The bride and groom should not necessarily rule out their dream wedding site because it doesn't accommodate their large guest list. The number of guests can be reduced if extra space can't be added to the venue. Inviting certain guests to the reception and not the ceremony is another option.

Brides and grooms must also consider the cost of their preferred ceremony site. The Knot recommends spending 2 to 3 percent of the total wedding budget on the ceremony site. Of course, if the couple's dream ceremony venue exceeds the budgeted amount, compromises can be made in other areas.

When deciding among potential ceremony sites, the couple should know what is included in the cost to use the site. Questions to ask the venue's representative include:

  • Who is responsible for setting up and tearing down the decor?
  • Does the venue have a director and, if so, will the director be at the ceremony?
  • Does the venue offer a shuttle for guests from the wedding site to the reception?
  • Does the venue require specific vendors?
  • Are there any photographer or videographer restrictions?
  • Will there be a reserved parking area for guests?
  • Will other weddings be booked on the same day?
  • What is the back-up plan if there is bad weather at an outdoor site?
  • Are there any additional costs?


Choosing a Reception Site

The wedding reception can take place either at the same site as the wedding or a different location. Many couples choose to start the reception immediately following the ceremony. When booking a reception site, those couples must partially base their decision on when the site is available.

The couple should know if they want to include a meal, bar and dancing in their reception when deciding on a reception site. Many venues require a minimum number of guests when the site provides food and drinks. It is acceptable to invite guests to the reception who weren't invited to the ceremony. Popular reception sites include hotel ballrooms, restaurants, parks, gymnasiums and halls. When meeting with representatives from potential reception sites, the couple should ask the following questions:

  • What is included in the rental fee?
  • Is there a minimum requirement for guests and what is the maximum capacity of the venue?
  • Does the venue provide live music or a DJ?
  • Are there any other events booked that day?
  • Who is responsible for setting up and tearing down the decor?
  • How early can the site be set up?
  • What time do the guests need to leave?
  • Does the venue have liability insurance?
  • What are the venue's liquor requirements and restrictions?
  • Will a facility director be available during the reception?
  • Does the venue provide a caterer and servers? If so, how much does the venue charge per plate?
  • Is there a bar? If so, will it be open or cash?
  • Will there be reserved parking for the guests?
  • What is the security deposit and how will it be refunded?


Church Weddings

Fifty-three percent of wedding ceremonies took place in a church during 2007, according to The Wedding Report, a company that provides market research for the wedding industry. When getting married in a church, the couple might have to select a date based on the church's availability. Many churches have specific requirements regarding weddings, including mandatory pre-marriage counseling and performing ceremonies only for members of the church, which the couple will need to take into consideration before making a final decision.

Destination Weddings

When the local beach or park won't do, couples may travel to an exotic locale, known as destination weddings. Choosing a destination wedding site can be considerably more difficult than choosing a local site because of the large amount of planning involved. Brides.com recommends hiring a wedding coordinator who is local to the destination to handle the details with venues and vendors. Couples should travel to the destination at least once to tour potential ceremony and reception venues before booking the sites.

Home Weddings

Many couples choose a private residence for their wedding site. While getting wed at someone's home can save the cost of renting a site, renting other items that are normally included in the cost of a venue can quickly add up. For large weddings, the couple could be responsible for providing chairs, tables, flatware, a tent, portable restrooms, fire extinguishers, linens, microphones and generators, as well as hiring all vendors. Real Simple recommends taking out an umbrella policy with the homeowner's insurance company for the day of the wedding to cover potential mishaps. Although home weddings are potentially a lot of work for the couple, they tend to be intimate affairs at a sentimental location.

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