Choosing your wedding location will have a huge effect on how you, your family and friends remember your special day.
Emotions will be high as, after all, your choice of wedding location provides the stage, as it were, for you and your partner to be joined in marriage. Many of your photographs will be taken during and soon after the ceremony, including the arrival of the bridal party, the groom’s first look, saying your vows, exchanging rings, your first kiss as a married couple, signing the Certificates of Marriage, with your celebrant, and receiving congratulations from family and friends at the conclusion of the ceremony.
One of your first considerations when choosing your wedding location will be the style of ceremony you’re planning to have. This can take a variety of forms including relaxed and casual, elegant and sophisticated, vintage, beach, extravaganza, intimate or themed.
You could also choose for it to be a destination wedding, one where you decide to marry in another country or in an area that’s not local to you. While this adds to the excitement, it may pose some legal considerations and there is a possibility that all those you hope can attend may, in fact, not be able to make it. The key is to research everything. With the help of your celebrant and, if relevant, the embassy of a foreign country, you should be able to have all your questions answered.
Some venues lend themselves to a variety of themes and your decorator can help you with lots of ideas for adding special touches to create a unique look. Checking photographs on Facebook, Pinterest and the websites of a variety of venues and decorators may also give you inspiration. Of course, visiting in person before your wedding day, preferably at the time of day you plan to hold your ceremony, and building a relationship with the venue co-ordinator will be crucial. If your venue has a fabulous fig tree or, perhaps, panoramic views, these are often key factors to ensuring you have an amazing backdrop for your wedding.
The number of guests you hope to have may also play a part in your choice of venue. A small group will be very comfortable at a boutique hotel, for instance, while it’s likely 100-150 guests would need something on a larger scale. Your celebrant should be able to offer some suggestions for venues in your local area or you may decide to employ the services of a wedding co-ordinator to help with all your planning.
Other considerations may include such things as whether you are able to supply seating for your guests, the likely temperature at the time of day you’re holding your ceremony and whether there’s any shade available, whether you choose to supply water on a hot day, the tides if your location is near a beach and any specific lighting requirements for photographs.
♥ The surprise element
Depending on your family and circle of friends, it may be easier to not discuss all the details of your planned wedding with everyone. This invariably leads to comments and/or criticism which can cause you to second-guess your decisions. In the case of a destination wedding, as long as you’re able to advise the date of your wedding and your chosen location, family and friends will still be able to save for their travel expenses and make arrangements to take leave, if necessary, at that time. After that, all the other details can remain a mystery.
♥ Back-up plan
It’s always essential, when planning an outdoor wedding, that you have a back-up plan (often your reception venue) in case of bad weather. Don’t consider this as a “Plan B”; rather, it is your chosen alternative.
Rain and wind can play havoc with hair, makeup, flowers and clothing. In addition, your photographer may not be able to capture some of the images you had hoped for and it’s unlikely that your celebrant will be able to use their PA for the ceremony if it’s raining or there’s a sand storm. If this is the case, many of your family and friends will be unable to hear what’s going on. You also won’t want your precious Certificates of Marriage getting wet or blowing away accidentally.
The main thing is that all those invited, including your celebrant and any other suppliers such as your photographer and decorator, are advised in good time of a change in plans so that they can arrive at your new venue with plenty of time to spare.
♥ Keep a schedule of arrangements
If you’re not using the services of a wedding co-ordinator, it will help greatly if you keep a spreadsheet or folder containing all your wedding details. This should include names, dates and timelines, contracts, costs, receipts and confirmation in writing of all arrangements and changes to arrangements. Don’t leave anything to chance.
As a celebrant, I provide all couples booking with me with a written Statement of Fees detailing the costs associated with their wedding as well as specific terms and conditions including the location of the wedding ceremony and the back-up plan. This document is signed by the bride and/or the groom (if only one is present at the time) and me.
I also scan and email receipts for all payments received electronically and then hand each couple the original of any receipts at our next meeting.
All arrangements are confirmed in writing via email after each meeting so that the couple and I can see at a glance which decisions or arrangements still need to be made prior to their ceremony.
The key throughout is good communication. Ask as many questions as you need to with all your suppliers so that you feel comfortable with your decisions and, once made, it makes sense to move on to the next item on your list which needs attention.
Arranging a rehearsal with your celebrant, so that you and your bridal party can see how everything works at your venue, is also time well spent. You will be able to practise the processional, check to see that your music works etc. and, if you meet around the time that your ceremony will be held, you will be able to see if there’s any available shade. This may have a bearing, for instance, on where the bridal party will stand and guests may be seated and where the signing table should be set up.
♥ Have fun!
Lastly, enjoy this special time in your relationship. With prior planning, your choice of wedding location will be help you have an amazing day which you’ll remember forever!
024 – 31/12/15