With the vision of your dream wedding in mind

With the vision of your dream wedding in mind and your projected number of guests in hand your next step is to consider the location and date for both ceremony and reception. Since your first move was to start your planning early you have a high probability of finding your desired location(s) available on the date you want.

Wedding ceremonies

Wedding ceremonies can be performed almost anywhere, and even large formal church services will not impact your budget like the costs generated by the reception. Whether you seek one location for both ceremony and reception or wish to separate these events, the availability, guest capacity, and costs of the reception are key.

Start your consideration of potential reception sites by talking with friends who have used a given facility for their weddings. Look at advertised reception sites in wedding and bridal magazines and set up appointments to meet with the catering/event managers of the ones you find attractive. You can eliminate those unable to accommodate your projected number of guests or that are out of your budget over the phone. A few suggestions in selecting potential reception sites follow:

  • If your dream is of a formal reception, with marble floors, chandeliers, fine table service and a spacious dance floor a hotel ballroom might work well for you. Such a facility also generally accommodates a large number of guests, and is equipped for and experienced with events like yours. Usually there is an on-premises caterer who works exclusively for the hotel. Such a caterer may or may not offer you much latitude in your selection of food. On-premises caterers often take some of the hassles out of your decision-making by making some of those decisions for you. When interviewing the catering/event manager be sure you understand just what is included in the cost and what is not.
  • A more informal reception could be held at a museum, on the patio of a country club, in a park, or in your own backyard. Outside events must, of course, be planned with the weather in mind. A full-service caterer can arrange for a tent, and power, and can even help connect you with a photographer and florist. The key, again, is qualifying the service-provider. If a friend has used the caterer and was satisfied, you probably will be as well.

When you interview the catering/event manager you are considering determine what kind of food and bar are offered at what cost per guest. You can tell very quickly if your budget can support the number of contemplated guests at the facility in question. You then may need to go through the process of adjusting your desired guest list, reception menu, and bar choices to come to a realistic fit.

Once your reception plan is complete you should book the site and caterer to lock down your date. If your desire is to use one facility for both your ceremony and your reception your reservation can be made for both.

If your dream wedding calls for a ceremony somewhere other than the reception site your attention should now be focused on securing this site and officiant.

If you have a strong spiritual background and wish to be married only by your own minister, rabbi, priest or other spiritual officiant, be sure before reserving the reception site for a given day and time that your ceremony can be accommodated in your spiritual facility by your spiritual officiant on the same date at your desired time. You may have to be flexible to obtain a date and time match for both ceremony and reception. Remember to try to plan your timing in such a way that you and your guests aren’t faced with several hours to kill between the wedding and cocktails.

When you and your fiancé are from different spiritual backgrounds you may find that your ceremony requires a bit more detailed planning and preparation. Often it is difficult to find a spiritual officiant of one faith who is willing to perform a ceremony outside his own facility, much less a ceremony in cooperation with a spiritual officiant of another faith.

Some spiritual officiants may be unwilling to perform a ceremony for anyone who is not a member of their congregation. Many take offense when the only reason you want to marry in their facility is that it’s location or architectural setting is pleasing to you. You may end up having to use a non-denominational officiant to marry you. Many of these can perform very personal and spiritual ceremonies.

Whatever your desires for your ceremony it is important now to make your decision on a location and officiant and reserve them to coordinate with your reception plans.