Why Choosing Your Location Should Be the First Step In Wedding Planning

Choosing your locale will help you navigate essential wedding planning decisions

Updated 12/18/17

Courtesy of Hotel San Cristóbal

Where in the world will you tie the knot? The possibilities are endless, from a traditional wedding in your hometown with a huge guest list to an intimate getaway to a fabulous destination. And of course, you could always elope! As such, you’ve got to decide where you’ll be getting married before you can start the actual planning process. But did you know the “where” will impact just about everything else? Here’s how far that influence spreads.

There’s a pretty good chance that you and your S.O. have started talking about your wedding well before you’re actually engaged, and if you haven’t, well, don’t plan on talking about anything else for a while! The first thing you’ll need to discuss is where you’re going to tie the knot, and you’ve got two main choices: A local wedding in one of your hometowns (or the town where you both live now), or a destination wedding somewhere else in the world. When we say “destination wedding,” we don’t just mean a dozen people on a beach in Bali. It could be 150 people traveling to your favorite city or vacation destination, too—essentially anywhere that isn’t the place you call “home.”

Deciding where to have your wedding will cause a ripple effect through all of the other details. Don’t believe us? Take a look at this:

The Guest List

The location you choose (and the specific venue) will determine how large your guest list can, and will, be. Ask yourselves these questions: Are you hoping to have a huge celebration, or would you rather have a much smaller group? Are you willing to choose a spot that’s less exotic in order to have the most people there with you, or does the choice of locale mean everything to the type of celebration you’re planning? If you’re all about having as many people there as possible, go more local (one of your hometowns, which is convenient for family, or the town where you live, which is convenient for your friends). If finding the perfect location is more important (and you’re okay with a smaller group), start brainstorming your dream destinations! And if you’re dreaming of a smaller wedding, but are getting pushback to invite just about everyone you know, a destination wedding might be a good idea for you. Combine a smaller venue and remote location, and you’ll not only have to cut the list down yourselves, but it will be cut naturally because some guests can’t or won’t travel quite so far.

The Design

Some wedding locations are better candidates than others. Is there ample lodging, a good caterer and florist, and a company that can provide the rentals you’ll need? Or will you have to import items and get more creative to make it happen? Depending on how you want your wedding to look and feel, you might need to choose a more popular or conveniently-located location in order to have access to better amenities. Of course, if you’re all about intimate and authentic, the world is your oyster!

The Budget

Destination weddings are often touted as a cost-saving strategy, since they usually come with a smaller guest list (meaning fewer people to feed and fewer tables to decorate). However, don’t forget to include the cost of travel and lodging as you’re making your plans! A beach wedding in prime tourist season, for example, can come with a hefty price tag. On the other hand, a local wedding (which can cost much more because there may be more people in attendance) can actually end up being pretty affordable, since fewer traveling guests means you can have an off-season celebration without worrying about whether they can book a flight. And you’ll have an army of friends and family to help with DIY projects!

Attire

You’ve heard it before, and it’s worth repeating: Don’t shop for your wedding dress before you choose a venue! While we’ll always argue that you can wear whatever you want as the bride, some styles and fabrics are more fitting for certain settings than others. A huge satin ballgown, for example, would be right at home in a grand hotel or stunning museum, but won’t be quite so comfortable on a beach (though if you love the silhouette, look at tulle and chiffon designs with equally voluminous skirts that will be poufy and light).

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