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7 Things to Consider when Picking a Wedding Venue ...

I'm pleased to say that Heather and I have decided where to get married, but let me tell you, picking a wedding venue is tough! There are so many things to consider, from what you and your partner want out of your venue, to the things that are offered, the price, the location in terms of beauty, the location in terms of proximity – whew! If you're planning your wedding and you're having some trouble picking a wedding venue, hopefully these tips will help you put the most important things into perspective!

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1. Location, Location, Location

Where do you want your wedding to be – and are you willing to compromise at all? Heather and I desperately wanted to get married in Salem, but in picking a wedding venue, we discovered very quickly that an October wedding in Salem just wasn't going to happen – and we were cool with that. We also fell in love with a venue three hours away from us, but that wasn't logical for us, our local guests, or the guests coming in from out of town. Think about what details you want first – a garden wedding, indoor or outdoor, a destination wedding – and work out your choices from there, but remember that you may have to go with your second or even your third choice.

2. How Much Bang for Your Buck?

Cost is a big factor when you're choosing a wedding venue. What's your budget? How much of your budget are you willing to devote to your venue? Generally, your venue and the caterers will take up the majority of your budget, unless you're going after a Vera Wang dress. For the money you'll be spending, you want to get as much as possible, so make sure you ask about inclusions such as tents, tables, chairs, and so on.

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3. The Size of the Venue

How many guests are you expecting, honestly? Remember that not everyone will show up, but if your guest list is around 200, you'll still need a fairly large venue. Similarly, if you're having an intimate wedding of 100 guests or less, you don't need some massive hall. It might look great in theory, but can you imagine 80 people rattling around some enormous ballroom?

4. Ceremony Vs. Reception

Are you getting married off-site, such as in a church, or do you want to have your ceremony and reception in the same spot? Lots of venues offer full-service, but they may also charge you for performing the ceremony. You'll have to think about where you're getting married – and if it is off-site, don't choose a reception venue far away from where the ceremony takes place.

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5. How's about Those Hidden Fees?

While the overall cost is a crucial consideration when you're picking a wedding venue, it's not the only price-related subject. Lots of venues insert sneaky, hidden fees. For instance, are they going to charge you for slicing the cake? Try to find a place that doesn't engage in such underhanded tactics, because really, that's silly.

6. Open Bar Vs. Cash Bar Vs. No Bar

What's the bar situation? If you've got your heart set on a bar, that's one thing – you can immediately knock out any venues that don't allow alcohol on the premises. However, there are also venues that allow alcohol, but insist on either a cash bar or an open bar. If one or the other is a sticking point for you, that can help you narrow down your list as well.

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7. Does It Feel like the One?

When it comes down to it, you'll know the place. You'll feel it. The second you see it, you'll be able to envision your entire ceremony and reception, from start to finish. It might be in a library, at a museum, in a garden, or on a tropical island. You'll know – and if the stars align, it will meet all your criteria and it won't completely obliterate your budget.

Heather and I really lucked out as we were picking a wedding venue. We were both in full agreement and fell in love with the very first place we toured, although we had a short-list of five spots. You may have to visit many more, or maybe you'll know the first time you see The Place. Whatever the case, if you consider these things, you'll be off to a great start. What was the deciding factor that made you pick a venue?

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