Wedding Planning | Top 10 Wedding Venues

In February, we began a first things first approach to wedding planning creating three main lists and breaking down the planning process into easy steps. We’ve tackled a number of items on List #1: The Big Picture including Setting Your Date & Guest List, Researching and Selecting your Photographer, Videographer and Wedding Planner, and Researching and Selecting your Venue. Periodically, we want to breakdown an item on the list even further and today is one of those days.

Since our post on venues has been so popular, we thought we’d delve a little deeper into the different types of venues, and have chosen our top ten along with some pros and cons for each one. Today’s brides have so many choices in venues, offering unique and creative ways to celebrate their special day. When I got married (1981), you basically got married in a church, and then had your reception either at the adjoining church hall, a local banquet facility or at your dad’s Moose/Elk/Italian club. Not many choices and kind of boring. So, are you ready to see some of the latest and greatest choices that are available today?

{Church Hall or Member Hall}

We’ll start off with one of the more traditional venues, your church hall or member hall (think Moose/Italian/Elk). Many couples might opt for their adjoining church hall for a number of reasons, be it sentimental or convenience, but let’s take a look at some of the pros and cons.

Pros: Convenient (save on limo travel and cost); free or small fee depending on if you are a member of the community; great for the DIY bride that would love to do lots of decorating (if allowed – see cons); great for small intimate weddings.

Cons: You may have to do much of the setup; you must provide the decor, but you may be severely limited in what you will be allowed to hang or setup; there may be alcohol restrictions (if allowed at all); kitchens may be very small for catering staff; possible conflict over reception music (depending on religion, but you would know that rule if you are a member); guest limits; parking limits.

Church Hall Wedding Venue

via Town of Genoa

{Private Home}

If you are so lucky to have family or a friend that has a spectacular piece of property, and they are willing, then a private home may be just the special place that will work for your wedding. But here are some additional things to consider:

Pros: Free (hopefully!); convenient (both ceremony and reception in one spot); special meaning to one or both of you; great for a relaxed, DIY or intimate wedding.

Cons: Parking limitations and noise considerations (check with neighbors – consider inviting them!) and check with local laws and ordinances depending on the size of the guest list); may not be the style that you had envisioned for your wedding; the setup and clean up can be a chore – be sure to hire professionals (or family) to assist – can I recommend a great wedding planner? :)

Private Home Wedding Venue

Photo by Vitalic Photo via Southern Weddings

{Park/Garden/Vineyard}

There are so many beautiful parks available today, and it seems that just about every park has jumped onto the wedding band wagon. Vineyards have also become a popular choice and one of my personal favorites!

Pros: Gorgeous grounds requiring very little decor; different options for style – rose gardens, oak trees, asian gardens, and picnic areas.

Cons: Seasonal dependent; beware of hidden costs; may not have indoor accommodations in the event of inclement weather; don’t plan a vineyard wedding in the spring, the vines are all brown – think fall; alcohol limitations!

Park Garden Vineyard Wedding Venues

Photo by Gia Canali Photography via Style Me Pretty

{Restaurant/Hotel-Ballroom}

Whether a small intimate restaurant or a larger one that even has a private room available, this venue option may be the perfect choice for you. Larger hotels have the ability to provide you with lots of options from intimate restaurant affairs to gorgeous ballroom events.

Pros: Menu variety; your favorite restaurant, serving your favorite foods; special meaning – maybe this is where you had your first date or he proposed there; ideal for small intimate weddings; knowledgeable staff at larger hotels.

Cons: Cost (may be more, may even be less; it all depends on the restaurant); size and decor limitations in smaller restaurants; double booking at larger hotels.

Restaurant Hotel Ballroom Wedding Venues

Photo by Laura Ivanova Photography via Style Me Pretty

{Country Club}

Many country clubs (tennis and/or golf) have always been available for weddings but they have really stepped up their game in recent years providing for many a lavish and stylish affair.

Pros: Cost (member benefits); gorgeous grounds and decor; knowledgeable staff that specialize in weddings; usually both indoor and outdoor availability.

Cons: Cost – beware of hidden costs; must be a member; may not be a private affair (other members or other weddings may get caught up in your traffic flow).

Country Club Wedding Venues

via Home Design Blog

{Beach}

The beach is one of my personal favorites, and if I ever wanted to do a vow renewal this would be my number one choice!

Pros: Gorgeous views; there is something very romantic about the beach :) ; a relaxed, fun atmosphere.

Cons: Could be seasonal dependent (I don’t recommend the beach in December in the Northeast); cost for setup could be prohibitive – beware hidden costs; may require travel for your guests.

Beach Wedding Venues

Photo by Amanda Wilcher Photography via Style Me Pretty

{Museums, Aquariums, Zoos, Libraries}

I think these venue options are some of the most creative, and also could be some of the most expensive. These venues would really create a fun and unique atmosphere for your guests! One that I would definitely look forward to if I got an invite!

Pros: Creative and unique; very little decor needed.

Cons: Photography may be restricted due to artifacts, animals, etc.; cost could be prohibitive; may require travel; music volume level limitations.

Museums Aquariums Zoos Libraries Wedding Venues

Photo by Fred Marcus Photography via New York Wedding Guide

{Banquet Hall}

While a more traditional choice, especially here in New England, there are some really great venues in this category.

Pros: Experienced staff with lots of package options; style and decor options.

Cons: May have more than one event scheduled; time constraints especially if they double book events.

Banquet Hall Wedding Venues

Photo by Mary Wyar Photography via Wedding Chicks

{Barn}

This type of venue is gaining in popularity especially with the rustic and even shabby chic bride. This venue type is another one of my favorites, although my husband would never survive if it is an authentic barn with hay included. Can you say gesundheit? :)

Pros: Great for rustic, relaxed wedding style; DIY opportunities abound.

Cons: Make sure it is a venue and not some tumble down barn; beware of allergies (is it a clean, modern barn or your uncle’s barn that you had to move the animals to the back pasture?); you may have to provide setup and clean up as well as decor.

Barn Wedding Venues

Photo by Tanja Lippert Photography via Southern Weddings

{Tent}

Tents are another great option for venues. They come in all kinds of shapes and sizes along with lots of options nowadays. Can you say: have wedding, will travel?

Pros: You can set up a tent just about anywhere – the beach, a private home, country club, an open field; a tent is a blank canvas – a great outlet for creativity and different styles.

Cons: Lots of additional costs to consider – lighting, heat, dance floors, sides for inclement weather, setup, take down, size, clear ceiling, etc. Be sure to ask lots of questions.

Tent Wedding Venues

Photo by Mango Studios via Style Me Pretty

You can see that there are so many choices today and that it could be a little overwhelming. Narrowing your choices down by style, location and cost will help make the decision easier. Be sure to ask lots of questions and be prepared to visit a site or location a couple of times before you make your final decision.

Have you picked a favorite venue? You know what mine are! Those of you that have decided on a venue, let us know your choice and why. Your insight could help another bride. :)

Have an awesome weekend!

xoxo

Comments

  1. Great post although the one with the green lattice is not a banquet hall. Its the Toledo Country Club.

    • Alexandra says:

      Thanks for the heads up, Krista! Many Country Clubs do have banquet halls that they offer as venues for weddings though so it can/could work as both :)

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