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If you’re just starting to look at venues for your wedding day, you're sure to be met with plenty of options. Whether you’re looking at a wedding on the beach, a hotel venue, or even hosting a restaurant party, it’s all about finding the right fit for you and your partner. Another popular choice? A beautiful country club.
Country clubs are often found in suburban areas, offering a variety of on-site activities including golf and tennis, on-site dining, and a community atmosphere. Even better? Country clubs typically boast the most stunning grounds with impeccable landscaping.
If you’re curious whether a country club wedding is the right fit for your big day, look no further. Read on for everything you need to know about planning a country club wedding, along with expert insight from wedding planner Reagan Kerr.
Meet the Expert
Reagan Kerr is the owner of Reagan Events, a full-service wedding planning and design company based in South Carolina.
What to Consider
The first point to consider in looking at a country club wedding venue is membership. More often than not, a country club will only allow weddings for its current members. However, if there is a specific club you’re eyeing, there may be the option to become a new member ahead of time or look to family and friends for sponsorship if they’re already a member.
"In some cases, clubs will allow a member to sponsor another person, allowing that non-member to hold an event at the club," says Kerr. "Each club approaches sponsorships differently. Sometimes, the sponsorship grants access for just the event itself and sometimes it may grant the non-member access to other amenities, such as tee times ... or yoga classes."
Average Cost of a Country Club Wedding
Your venue fee is often the first and largest part of your wedding budget to consider. When it comes to planning your wedding at a country club, the cost will truly all depend on the club’s pricing structure. "Generally, the venue rental fee is much more cost-effective than a regular event venue, if there is even a fee at all," says Kerr. "Many times, clubs don’t charge a venue fee but rather the client must meet a food and beverage minimum, which is easy to do." Food and beverage minimums can vary to include appetizers, dinner, drinks, and even your wedding cake at some clubs. If you don’t hit the minimum, then you’ll just pay the difference to meet the full amount.
Kerr also notes that a country club wedding could come with cost savings for rentals, shaving dollars off of your overall budget. "While many may still wish to outsource items such as chairs or specialty linens, there is great value in utilizing the club's glassware, china, and flatware," she adds. You can often mix and match between the included rentals on-site while adding upgrades such as table chargers or unique wine glasses to make it your own.
Pros and Cons of a Country Club Wedding
Established Relationships: If your parents or grandparents are members, you may have spent plenty of time at the country club growing up. For some couples, it becomes a meaningful place to go back to their roots and say "I do."
Plenty of Parking: Country clubs are often built in an area that offers expansive lawns and great views. The other benefit to this? Plenty of space for parking. You won’t have to worry about where all of your guests will park, because there will already be dedicated space. Valet parking may be available for your guests as well.
Built-in Elegance: Country clubs are designed for an upscale experience. With stunning architecture, well-appointed interiors, and gorgeous landscaping, you can truly lean into an elegant wedding theme without having to do much more décor planning.
More Rules and Limitations: Because country clubs cater to a variety of members all at once, you might find that there are restrictions or rules in place to maintain standards for all during your wedding day. "Often this may mean limitations on what can be tented or floored and when, or that adjacent dining rooms are open to member dining during your wedding," explains Kerr.
Fewer Menu Options: You may not have as much flexibility as desired with your reception menu, especially if you’re required to use on-site dining options. "When planning the menu at the club, always start with what they do well," says Kerr. "Look at what they serve at their large member banquets and ask the chef their opinion on what would present well for your guest size ... then lean into their answers!"
Limited Décor Flexibility: You might find that there isn’t much room for flexibility when it comes to décor. Country clubs are designed to meet a specific aesthetic, and it's often a requirement to generally leave things untouched. Dressing up tables or self-standing arrangements is generally allowed, but items that need to be installed or hanging décor may not be possible.
Can you bring in your own caterer?
If you’re hoping for a very specific menu at your country club wedding, this can get tricky. "The few exceptions I've seen regarding bringing in outside food usually are around a specialty item that is a staple in the community and not easily replicated by the club's kitchen," shares Kerr. Depending on the club's rules, bringing in items like Krispy Kreme donuts, Chick-fil-A, or other late-night eats may be allowed.
Do you need a separate wedding planner for a country club wedding?
More often than not, country clubs have an on-site event coordinator to assist with your big day. However, the country club’s dedicated staff member may not be able to help with all aspects of wedding planning. Tasks such as organizing hair and makeup, planning paper products, booking vendors, or spearheading design are typically not part of their scope. "On the wedding day, their focus is on the club and its responsibilities, which is a small fraction of the event. Understanding the differences between what a club planner can do for you versus an outside event designer is vastly important," reminds Kerr.
Will the country club only be open to the wedding party and guests?
Whether you have the country club all to yourself on your wedding day is entirely up to the specific club. For some country clubs, there may be a buyout option. For others, it’s likely you’ll have private access to your ceremony and reception space, but other members might still be on-site enjoying the property.
Can the wedding party get ready at a country club venue?
Getting ready on-site at your venue is incredibly helpful. Many country clubs offer a private room for getting ready. Check with the on-site coordinator to confirm if there is space available for the wedding party to get ready on the big day.