How to Choose Your Wedding Location

Before you set a wedding date or choose a wedding venue, you need to decide on a wedding location. Here's how to choose the country, city, or neighborhood of your wedding dreams.

By Jane Chertoff

wedding location
Photo by Zola

If you’re about to embark on the long (but fun!) wedding planning journey, you know that there’s a long wedding checklist to run through. Some of those to-dos need to happen before others can even begin. For example, before you choose a wedding venue or even set a wedding date, you need to choose a wedding location.

When it comes to narrowing your location options down from country to city to town to neighborhood, it can feel like the whole world is open to you. Should you get married in Scottsdale, Arizona or New York, New York? Should you explore elopements in Las Vegas or a beachside wedding in Miami?

Well, when it comes to choosing the location for your dream wedding, technically, the world is open to you—but you probably have a good idea of some areas where you want to wed. Here are all the factors to keep in mind as you choose your wedding location.

Keeping it traditional? Get married in the host’s hometown.

Tradition dictates that weddings take place in the host’s—usually the bride’s—hometown. The bride’s parents traditionally would pay for the entire wedding and reception, so they would get to be the “hosts” of the event.

Of course, today, things are different. Many couples pay for their own weddings, others split the cost between families, and still others do designate one side of the family to shoulder the main ceremony and reception costs. So, feel free to choose either of your hometowns as your wedding location.

Hoping to create new traditions? Get married in the city where you met.

Wherever you first met your fiancé is always going to be meaningful to you both. Whether you were both museum hopping in Paris or ran into each other at a local coffee shop, consider having your wedding in the same city as the meet-cute.

Make sure to write out the story for your guests on your wedding website or on the save-the-dates so they understand why this is such a significant location for you.

Photos By Susie InlineImage 1080x720 Photo Credit // Photos By Susie

Want to stay convenient (for you)? Get married in the city where you live.

If you want to keep things very convenient for you, your fiancé, and your local friends and family, have the wedding in the city that you currently call home. This cuts down on travel to vendor appointments like fittings and tastings. You’ll also be able to pop into your venue to hammer out logistics anytime in-person instead of handling things over the phone.

Consider making your hometown a recurring part of your wedding theme—in big or small ways. Add souvenirs to your wedding welcome bags, create a full itinerary of places to visit and add it to your wedding website, or even serve a city food staple (New York pizza or Chicago popcorn, anyone?) at your reception.

Can’t decide? Pick somewhere between your hometowns.

You’re a Californian and your partner’s a New Yorker. Split the difference and have the wedding somewhere in the middle, making it more convenient (or at least equally convenient) for your friends and family to travel to. Your hometowns also may only be a few hours from each other as opposed to cross-country. So, you’ll likely have an area in mind that could serve as a good middle ground.

In some cases, technically, this counts as a destination wedding, as neither of your families are familiar with the area. This obviously comes with a fair share of logistical challenges and maybe some heightened travel costs across the board (before, during, and after the wedding). However, it serves as a good compromise if you really can’t decide as a couple where to host the wedding.

Love to travel? Host a destination wedding

Speaking of destination weddings, they’re a beautiful option for couples that have family and friends willing to travel for their big day. Your destination could be anywhere, from a beach in Puerto Rico to a villa in Italy.

As we mentioned, destination weddings come with their own unique set of challenges. Your best defense is a seasoned local coordinator or wedding planner who’s familiar with weddings in that country or city because you may be planning everything from home.

Destination weddings can get expensive for everyone. However, what you spend on additional travel costs, you may save in other areas. Your guest list is likely to start small and end even smaller. First, you probably will invite fewer people and then, some will decline because of cost and logistics. If you prefer a small destination wedding, consider throwing another party back home, too, for your local friends and family.

Kamp Weddings InlineImage 1080x720 Photo Credit // Kamp Weddings

Tips To Choose a Wedding Location

Choosing a wedding location comes with a number of considerations. Here are a few more things to think about as you figure out where to wed.

Whose family has a harder time traveling?

If it’s important to you that your grandparents or other distant relatives with limited mobility are at your wedding, make it a priority to choose a location that’s easy enough for them to get to—and be willing to compromise if it’s your partner’s family who needs a closer location. (Also, consider setting up a live stream of your wedding for any relatives or friends who truly can’t make it to your wedding location.)

What’s your budget?

The budget rules all when it comes to wedding planning. OK, not all, but it plays a significant role in the decisions you make as a couple. Wedding venues in New York and San Francisco are generally much more expensive than neighboring cities, towns, and suburbs. If your budget is limited but your ideal wedding location is expensive, pick a spot on the outskirts of the area. You can still have that major-city moment even if you host your wedding in the next suburb over. Trust us, the lower costs and stress will make it worth it.

What To Consider Before Choosing a Wedding Venue

Once you’ve locked in where in the world you’re going to get married, it’s time to figure out how to pick a wedding venue. There are a few things you’ll want to consider when choosing the perfect event space to host your wedding ceremony and wedding reception, including:

1. Capacity

The size of your guest list will play a major role in choosing your event venue. For example, if you’re planning on hosting 300 of your nearest and dearest, you’re going to need a wedding venue with more space (and square feet) than if you were planning to have an intimate wedding with 20 guests. And if you’re hosting a small wedding, you don’t want to get married in a huge venue that’s meant to seat 200.

When you’re touring wedding venues, make sure to ask about capacity, both for the ceremony space and the reception space—and then compare that capacity to the number of guests you plan to host.

2. Availability

The best wedding venues tend to book out one to two years in advance. Before you fall in love with a venue, make sure to ask about availability and confirm they have a date that works for your wedding. (And keep in mind—the more flexibility you can have on the date of your special day, the easier it will be to find overlap with the venue.)

3. Budget

As mentioned, budget is important when choosing a wedding location—and it’s just as important when choosing a wedding venue. When evaluating venues, be sure to ask for pricing on their wedding packages and any extra costs you might incur. That way, you can compare it to your wedding budget and ensure it’s in line with what you’re willing to spend.

4. Location/Setting

There are all different types of wedding venues—and the location and setting of a wedding venue can make a huge difference in the look, feel, and overall vibe of your wedding. For example, outdoor wedding venues can offer natural backdrops and breathtaking views (think lakeside, beach, or mountain views)—while an indoor venue (like a country club or banquet hall) can offer more flexibility in event spaces.

Before you start looking at wedding venues, think about what type of location or setting you’re looking for—and then choose event venues that would fit that bill.

5. Style

Chances are, you’re going for a specific style for your wedding day—so make sure to choose a venue that aligns with that style. For example, if you’re going for a glam, “old world Hollywood” look, you might look for a venue with an art deco style (and lots of chandeliers!). If you want to your “I do’s” to have a more rustic feel, you might look for a wedding venue in the woods.

6. Transportation

You want guests to be able to easily get to and from your wedding celebration—which is why transportation is an important element to consider when choosing a wedding venue. When evaluating venues, consider how easy it will be for guests to drive there—and if the venue has enough parking to accommodate all your guests’ cars. You should also look into alternative options for guests who can’t or don’t want to drive (for example, whether guests can easily get an Uber to and from the venue or if any local hotels offer shuttle service for wedding parties that book room blocks for their event).