a wedding site
brides worry about the wedding cake. Others fret over their dresses. But what
should they be thinking about? Location.
wedding takes place helps to set the theme and feel of the wedding," says
Lynn Huntress, wedding consultant in San Antonio, who's planned more than 200
weddings over the past 10 years.
Her advice on choosing
a wedding site? Figure out your guest list first.
"The size of the reception
dictates where you will have it," says Huntress.
example, a small, private ceremony would get swallowed up in a large ballroom
-- giving guests too much space and an uncomfortable echo when speaking. Shoving
300 people into your aunt's den for a home ceremony is also ill advised.
your guest list has been decided, you can begin to search for the perfect place.
Going to the chapel and ...
A traditional wedding held in a church with a reception hall can be arranged
to fit most budgets. Bargain shoppers should inquire close to home because many
churches offer lower fees to members of the congregation. At The Cathedral of
the Incarnation in Nashville, Tenn., use of the church costs $150 for members
and $300 for nonmembers. Members will find the biggest price break for the use
of the reception hall -- $500 for registered parishioners as opposed to $1,000
for nonregistered parishioners. You'll need to manage the details -- find a caterer,
decorate and arrange for the music.
If you'd rather have your
reception at a hotel, the Adam's
Mark Hotel is a popular chain that frequently hosts wedding receptions. Its
Clearwater, Fla., location can serve 50 to 250 guests. A reception at Adam's Mark
can range from $5,000 to $21,000, depending on the number of guests and menu.
the "where" for weddings isn't limited to churches and hotels. Museums,
beaches or antique homes can provide a beautiful backdrop for nuptials.
course, there are considerations to be made so that the location doesn't lend
itself to disaster.
Huntress recalls one wedding that almost wasn't an outside ceremony and
reception. On the day of the wedding, the town was beset with rain, a lot of rain.
was a deluge. We had a phone committee going to move the whole thing. It took
a tremendous effort to make that change -- finding a church at the last minute,
telling 600 guests." Huntress says that finding an available church at the
last minute was an exceptional stroke of good luck. To avoid similar certain peril,
she insists that anyone planning an outdoor wedding have a rain plan.
have to be able to go inside or make the decision to rent tents -- and tents can
be quite costly. You need to make that decision a few days before because the
tents will need to be reserved and set up." Tents can be anywhere from $70
to $380 each.
Like a rain plan, other careful planning can
avert many potential wedding disasters. Here are some alternative wedding spots
and what you should consider if you want them to be yours.
Think you'll save a lot of
money by having the wedding at home? Think again. Huntress says all you really
save is the rental fee. And the extra cost to get your house wedding-ready may
not be worth it.
"You are still looking at paying a caterer,
possibly setting up a dance floor and setting up a riser for the band," says
Huntress. She adds that home weddings held outdoors might require an electrician
to wire additional outlets and create ample lighting. A rain plan must again be
considered. "Then you have to ask yourself if you actually have the room
to fit all your guests," she adds.
Dance floors can be
rented at a starting price of about $1 per square foot, small stages start at
$20 per four-foot section and electrician fees will vary according to house and
work required. Other rentals you may consider for home weddings include tables
and chairs (starting at $7 a piece for tables, $2 per chair) and table linens
(starting a $8 per tablecloth). Caterers vary widely but Huntress advises that
buffet-style food tends to cost less than sit-down meals. "But nothing,"
says Huntress, "is inexpensive."
If you want the intimacy of a home without the hassle of
reception renovations, you may want to consider renting an antique home. Homes
frequently rented for events have the advantage of being reception-ready -- no
electricians or home repair necessary.
In the sloping hills
of Austin, Texas, a restored Victorian home attracts at least 100 weddings per
year. The Daniel
H. Caswell House, former home of the wealthy Austinite, was purchased and
restored in the 1970s by a women's service group, the Austin Junior Forum, that
paid for the house entirely by the sale of their cookbooks. The home's picturesque
setting, antique furnishings and impressive view of the Capitol allows for a quaint
home-style wedding without the hassle of an own-home wedding.
knew I wanted my wedding at Caswell House," says Stacie McClure. "I
worked the date of my wedding around the availability of the house." McClure's
January 2002 wedding reception was held at Caswell House following a ceremony
at nearby Westlake United Methodist Church. "Caswell is an intimate setting
where the guests get to interact with the bride and groom -- more like a home,"
says McClure. She was also pleased that while Caswell House has a suggested list
of caterers, but she was not required to use the list. McClure says that was much
better "than being tied to the kitchen of a country club or hotel."
She was also able to use the furniture already in the house, rather than renting
from an outside supplier.
Another bonus for McClure was her
member discount -- members of the Austin Junior Forum can pay almost 50 percent
less than the nonmembers.
Fees for use of the home range from $700 for a minimum
five hours, to $2,440 for an entire day. Prices vary according to
date, with all proceeds funding the upkeep of the house and various
Austin charities. Discounts are available if you use the recommended
vendors. The vendors, in turn, donate services and food to house
To find historic
homes in your area, contact the National
Register of Historic Places.