Today's Budget Bride post affirms that a wedding isn't just about providing a cool photo backdrop for the star couple. The location and venue create the environment that shapes the whole experience. Location determines who can attend, how much and what kinds of fun everyone can have, and how everyone feels throughout the ceremony and reception. In addition to accessibility, aesthetics, and amenities offered at the site, there's also the general aura the place gives off. Is the site associated with historic events? Legendary romance? Is there anything ugly associated with it, like bigoted owners who refuse to support unions between people who are not of their preferred race or gender combinations? If your guests can possibly know the answers to those questions, your choice of venue will send a message that includes the values associated with it. A blank slate is just fine, but take care to avoid obvious stinkers like gay-hating orchards and slavery-stained plantations (that have not been converted into something positive, like a museum in honor of Black excellence), no matter how lovely the architecture.
Choose a place that celebrates what you and your people love, not one that boasts of exclusion.
A little creativity and flexibility can help you to secure a venue that offers function, beauty, and good vibes, all at a modest price.
Location, Location, Location
The space where your marriage takes place is the literal foundation upon which you build your celebration.
If you belong to a place of worship that gives discounts or free use of space to members, good for you! Other site options can include chapels, parks, community centers, or even a private home. The most important criterion for a budget bride's wedding location is that it is a place where all your favorite people can gather. Only plan an expensive destination wedding if that's your clever way of gatekeeping attendance, you cheeky minx. If you've always dreamed of a beach wedding but you do want lots of loved ones present for your ceremony, check out nearby lakes, picturesque ponds, or shorelines, and your dream can become an affordable reality.
Finding a single location where you can hold your wedding ceremony and reception is the best way to cut expense, time, stress, and inconvenience to yourself and your guests. Nobody likes waiting for three hours--starving to death--between a long wedding ceremony and dinner, or getting lost on the way to the reception.
See the glass building in the background? That's the reception hall set up with chairs and tables, self-serve fruits and nuts, beverages, and restrooms. Transporting guests from one site to another can be a logistical challenge. It's easier for all involved if you nab a conveniently located, whole-celebration spot.
In my opinion, nature makes the best backdrop for a beautiful event. Nobody cares about your table settings. No one will remember your centerpieces. But they will definitely remember the general setting of your wedding and how they felt in that environment. Having your wedding outdoors comes with the risk of unpredictable weather, so make sure the site has a sheltered option available.
My husband and I chose to get married at our local university's horticulture garden. Our ceremony took place outdoors under an arbor, and we held our reception inside a conservatory lined with potted trees. Our decorating needs were minimal thanks to the simple beauty of a leafy, green background and the sky above, visible through the glass. As Ella Fitzgerald sang over the speakers, we were "wrapped in the arms of sweet romance under a blanket of blue."
I'd like to note that I fully entrusted a family member to choose table decorations, and she merely picked up a few things from Target clearance and the Dollar Store. The effect was surprisingly lovely. Candles in low light make just about anything sparkle and glow.
Your location will need private areas for the wedding party to get dressed and a facility that can support your food service and cleanup.
Strangely, you must double check that your location has restroom facilities. There were many beautiful outdoor sites that we found did not have bathrooms available. The most inelegant thing you can tack onto your wedding party is a portable toilet--unless you spring for a really fancy couple of restroom trailers, and even then... think about it! Make sure your facilities can accommodate all your guests' mobility needs in addition to your fabulous gown when it's bunched over your head.
If you are planning a large-ish wedding, also consider providing space for guests to roam and make noise without getting into too much trouble. Our conservatory site came with many fun details to explore, including a children's butterfly garden down the hall.
I strongly prefer weddings that welcome children because they provide everything from adorable displays of affection to comic relief. Make your day kid-friendly and accessible to parents, little ones, the elderly, and all the people you want to be able to share in your wedding fun.
Try to choose a location that is wheelchair and walker accessible, and provide comfortable seating.
What would our reception have been like without Grandma Audrey boogieing on the dance floor?
With a little thought and care, you can find an an affordable wedding location where all your loved ones can gather to support your happiness and share in making new memories of good times.