Wedding magic often arises from where you’re speaking your vows. Outdoor weddings feel different from indoor ones, and small intimate churches are very different from backyards or cathedrals. Each unique wedding site, though, has unique challenges. Choose your site, and then plan well.
- If it’s popular, book it now. The Wedding Pavilion at Disneyworld is booked five years in advance. Busy venues that do events besides weddings must be booked early as well. Parks and beaches often require permits; contact the park department in your area to find out.
- Do they allow it? Not everyone allows a marriage ceremony on their facilities; if you are booking the reception, make sure you can have the wedding there too. Be creative; if they say no, ask about a wedding in their garden or if they can offer a suggestion for a nearby site. And give them the information you have for scheduling, ceremony type, and number of guests at any event you’re planning to have at their location.
- Ask about restrictions. Smoking, food, alcohol (especially in public parks and beaches), music, photography – any or all of these may be restricted. Historical locations often don’t like photos. Aquariums and zoos don’t like anything that disturbs the animals. And you may have to use a caterer they’ve signed a contract with, especially for more public venues like convention centers or public museums.
- Get special liability insurance. You should be prepared for anything. Besides, many sites require insurance.
- If it’s an outdoor wedding, make just-in-case plans. What if it rains? Have an indoor emergency venue waiting as a standby, rather than have your wedding ruined.
- Ask what they’ll provide and what you must bring. This goes down to tables and chairs. Draw a map of where you want things to be situated: for the wedding, your registry, seats for guests, where the bride enters, decorations, smoking area, child-emergency area, and anything else you can think of. And for the reception, all tables and chairs, tables for gifts and for food, bride and groom’s table.
- Everyone forgets the bathrooms. Visit the location before booking the wedding and look for access issues for older or handicapped guests, adequate smoking areas, diaper changing areas, bathrooms that are large enough and have mirrors, and ask about power. You may have to supply some of your own amenities, depending on what’s available. Ask about heating and A/C, as appropriate for your time of year. Do windows open? Do they have a kitchen? Is there space for a buffet? Get it settled in advance and you won’t be stuck with inadequate facilities.