Ah, the wedding venue. It’s actually a pretty tricky thing; not only is it one of the most significant components of your wedding (since it will probably determine the rest of your decorations and budget), but it’s also one of the hardest things to nail down. Sure you may have a spot in mind, but maybe you don’t realize there’s a two year waiting list, or maybe you didn’t realize how much more expensive a venue is in the summer than the winter. Well, here are a few things to keep in mind:

1.) The time of year. Some venues are only available at certain times of the year, and the prices often change depending on what season you want to get married. For so many people though, the time of year is the most non-negotiable part of the wedding. Sure your original guest list might expand and you may even agree to be married inside instead of outdoors, but switching from a summer wedding to a winter wedding is a change many are simply not willing to make. So be sure you have a good idea of what your venue options are for the season of your future wedding.

2.) Your needs. What are you planning on doing on your big day? Are you going to have your reception at the same place as the ceremony or will that be at a different venue? If the reception is at the same place, you’re going to have to think about other details, like if you need a dance floor, how a band or DJ will get set up and if you will need on site catering. In addition, how many people will be attending the ceremony? If you’re planning on getting married outside in a beautiful garden, is there a backup plan in case the weather decides to turn nasty?

3.) How it looks pre-decoration. No matter where you decide to get married, you’re going to want to make it all your own, and every venue is going to have its own challenges. However, the most challenging thing of all is often covering up other decorations. If your wedding colors are purple and green and your potential venue has fluorescent blue walls, that might be a deal breaker. Besides a place that shares your exact wedding colors (probably not going to happen), you’re going to want to look for something with a neutral palette. That way, you won’t have to worry about covering every square inch.

4.) The location. Being a born and bred Montana girl I completely understand the idea of having your ceremony on a mountaintop somewhere where everyone hikes to the location. However, your grandparents are probably not going to be able to participate in this kind of ceremony. If you really want to make it convenient on everyone, choose a location close to some kind of accommodations so your guests won’t have to travel an extra hour the spot of the wedding.

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