Following far on the heels of my last informative wedding plans post comes another about venues. This time I want to talk wedding ceremony venues. Do you need one? Not if you’re lucky. You could hold the ceremony
in the same space as the reception. After all, the typical wedding ceremony only lasts a half hour. You might as well reuse the reception space and keep it easy on the guests and the wallet. That move is highly recommended for couples on a tight budget, but most brides wouldn’t dream of such a thing. No, you need a church, or something just as lovely as a church. Either way it’s one more vendor to deal with, one more thing to worry about, and one more check to write. Thankfully, a wedding ceremony venue isn’t that bad to nail down.
Similar to wedding reception venues ceremony spots tend to fall into a few different categories.
The religious and traditional wedding ceremony venue
I can’t speak for other faiths, but for Christians this means securing a house of worship for a few hours. Think that’s easy? Think again. Most parishes have strict guidelines regarding who is allowed to marry in their church. It’s common to only allow members of the congregation. So, if you really want a specific church for your wedding and you don’t belong to the parish, then you better “join” ASAP. You’ll want at least a few months of attendance before you hit them up to get married there otherwise you risk looking like a schmuck who joined the parish just to use their building. Also, there may be classes and/or training involved. Catholics in particular make it difficult by only allowing two Catholics to marry in their church. I know because I’m Catholic but my wife is not. We couldn’t get married in our alma mater’s chapel without jumping through hoops. On the bright side, the cost to get married in a house of worship is usually reasonable.
The nature-centric wedding ceremony venue
This is the outdoor space. A forest preserve or other village/town/city park district zone. Permits are cheap but setup and tear down is all you. You don’t need much (some folding chairs, maybe an arch), but you’ll need to hire a hand or ask Uncle Frank to lug the furniture around and make sure the space is set up and later cleaned up on the day of the event. A little more orchestrating goes into having an outdoor wedding ceremony, and you have the weather to contend with, but if all that falls into place the results could be lovely.
The dual purpose wedding ceremony venue
This is the combo spot. A place where you hold the ceremony and later the reception. It could be a historical mansion, your home, a hotel, or a publicly permitted landmark. Lots of options here and prices are all over the board. There are a lot of upsides to using a combo space: no travel between venues, potential to combine outdoor and indoor spaces on the same grounds, usually these places are big and gorgeous. The only downside is that it’s not a cathedral, and in the case of some combo spots, like a hotel, it just doesn’t feel very wedding-like. Frankly, I think this is the way to go if you can find the right space. That’s especially true if they include catering for the wedding reception.
Of course this is not a comprehensive list. There are exotic options like a beach for a destination wedding. For most folks, however, the above wedding ceremony venue options are the most common. Did I miss one? Let me know and I’ll add it to the list along with my two cents.
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