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. Well, technically it is, but you probably have a good idea of some areas where you want to wed. Here are all the factors to consider to help you choose your wedding location.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Choosing a wedding location comes with a number of considerations. Here are a few more thing to think about as you figure out where to wed.
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.)
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. Cities like 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.
Once you narrow down where in the world you’re having the wedding, it’s time to secure a date and get this (wedding) party started.