Finding Your Dream Wedding Venue: Pros and Cons of Each Type

Whether you’re dreaming up a grand ballroom wedding at a hotel, a stylish backyard or a urban restaurant, there are pros and cons to think about for each type. Before you book a wedding venue, here are the details you need to know.

1. Hotel

Hotels and resorts are popular options, since they offer the most convenience for you and your guests.

PROS
  • Experienced Staffers
    Hotels are familiar with entertaining and hosting large groups of people. So you can rely on an established team and an organized system.
  • Rentals May Be Included
    Many hotels will furnish all the things you’ll need for your wedding, including tables, chairs, dance floor, china, flatware, linens, and glassware.
  • Built-in Accommodations
    You will most likely be able to reserve a room block for out-of-town guests at a discounted rate. As an added benefit, many hotels offer wedding packages that include free honeymoon stays.
  • Access to Hotel Catering Managers
    Catering managers will help you create a menu, and will usually stay at your wedding to make sure everything unfolds smoothly.
CONS
  • Can be Expensive
    A lot of hotels will require a minimum food and beverage charge that may take up a large portion of the wedding budget.
  • Unexpected Costs
    It’s necessary to find out exactly what items are and are not included in your wedding package. Before signing a contract, ask the hotel about cake-cutting fees, valet expenses, and overtime charges. Remember to factor in the service fee and taxes.
  • Limited Flexibility and Restrictions
    There are some hotels that will require you to use their preferred vendors, like the florist and/or lighting designer. Also, many hotels may not give you the option to rearrange tables to suit your layout preference. Certain banquets managers can be set in their ways and make it difficult to change things up.
2. Outdoors

The great outdoors offer the opportunity to channel natural elements and sunlight during warmer months of the year.

PROS
  • Reduce Décor Costs
    Let’s just be honest, who needs extravagant decorations when a glowing sunset, fragrant blooming flowers and lush green rolling hills can be your backdrop?
  • A Unique and Picturesque Setting
    Beautiful trees and mountain scenery can feel far removed from a bustling city venue. Is there really any better wedding designer than Mother Nature?
CONS
  • Unexpected Weather and Temperature
    Be flexible and understand that weather and the change in temperature are out of your control. Possible risks include rain, high winds, extreme humidity, snow, bugs, allergens or unforeseen natural disasters. So having an indoor backup plan is a must.
  • Tented Weddings Can Be Expensive
    The price of tent rentals can vary drastically, based on size, type and structural design. Not only will you need to cover the cost to rent the tent, you should expect to pay more for the tables, chairs, and other rented items that are rarely included in site fees.
3. Restaurant

If exceptional food and service are important elements to you, consider tying the knot at a fine restaurant venue.

PROS
  • Great Food

    Foodies who love a well-constructed menu and to-die-for cocktails will appreciate a restaurant that prides itself on creating a wonderful dining experience.
  • Reduce the Cost
    Restaurant weddings are generally less expensive than a hotel wedding, and won’t blow your budget to turn a raw space into something appealing. Many restaurants have unique and tasteful settings already designed for you.
  • Well-Trained Servers
    Restaurants thrive on making good food and providing excellent service–you can expect servers to be experienced in handling a large party.
  • Requires Minimal Rentals
    Since restaurants are already equipped with tables, chairs, linens and other service items, your rental costs will be much lower for a restaurant wedding than for a banquet wedding.
CONS
  • Space Restrictions
    Some restaurants may have limited space for a dance floor, as this type of venue is typically not designed for dancing, grand entrances, live bands, or bouquet tossing,
  • Buyout May Be Necessary
    In the case of a buy-out, owners will generally expect you to match the revenue of a typical business day. If you are planning a Saturday evening celebration, you can expect a pretty big bill.
  • Possible Capacity Issues
    You may need to trim your guest list or prepare seating for guests in different rooms throughout the restaurant.
4. Destination Wedding

Getting married away from home is thrilling, exotic, and somewhat unexpected. And many of your guests will certainly be happy to join in on the fun.

PROS
  • Change of Scenery
    What could be more romantic than celebrating your union at an exotic location?
  • Save Money with Fewer Guests

    Head count may hike up food and drink costs, but destination weddings tend to be smaller affairs.
  • Quality Time with Guests
    You will likely take a smaller group of friends and relatives with you and spend 72+ quality hours with them at a remote and romantic location as opposed to having a single bash in your hometown for 200+ people that will end after only 4 hours. Just be sure to check the typical weather for your potential date to avoid ending up in the middle of a rainy season or heat wave.
CONS
  • Guests’ Expenses Increase
    The cost of airfare can be a huge expense for a wedding guest along with hotel accommodations, car rentals, a wedding gift, etc.
  • You May Become a Tour Guide
    Since you’re inviting guests to an unfamiliar location, it’s important that you make them feel at comfortable. Plan weekend activities for your guests as a considerate gesture.
  • Local Customs and Resources
    With a destination wedding, you may have to rely on unfamiliar vendors located many miles away. You will also rely on local resources or pay lots of money to ship in wedding items. Consider that some local customs or the remoteness of your location may curtail the availability of resources. Also, marrying in a different country can create a bit of a barrier since each country has its own marriage laws.
5. At Home

Having your wedding at home (or at a friend or relatives residence) is a nice way to create a warm and intimate atmosphere on your wedding day.

PROS
  • Sentimental Value
    The greatest part about having a home wedding is that it will be personal and private. There’s nothing like getting married in the backyard where you used to play as a kid!
  • Room for Flexibility
    With a home wedding, you can take full control over many details, including your wedding date, timeline, etc.
  • Reduced Venue Site Fees and Liquor Budget
    You can save big by buying your own wine, beer, and liquor (especially at reduced bulk rates). Plus, you can totally skip the venue site fee since it’s your own home.
CONS
  • Increased Rental Costs
    Even though you’ll save money on the venue site, a large wedding can get expensive with increased rental costs. You’ll have to bring everything in yourself, from tables and chairs to linens, glasses and even cooking equipment and portable restrooms etc..
  • Valet Parking
    The parking situation is another important task to assess. You may want to arrange for valet parking—and give your neighbors a heads up.
  • Required Cleanup
    At the end of the night, someone has a big cleanup job to do. This can either be an additional expense (hire a cleaning service) or a duty designated to a few very kind volunteers.
6. One-Stop Venue

To keep it simple, you can have your ceremony and reception in the same place: a catering hall/hotel, a country club, or a church or synagogue that has an event space.

PROS
  • Convenience of One Site
    Opting for a single venue simplifies the logistics for everyone involved. Arrive at one location, then simply enjoy the celebration!
  • No Transportation Concerns
    Hiring a transportation company, dealing with heavy traffic that could holdup your party, and directing guests who may get lost on the way from the ceremony to the reception are all non-issues when you have just one venue.
  • Price is Right
    When it comes to overall cost, one site means one venue rental fee. With this option, you’ll only need to decorate and put all your efforts into one venue. It’s simple to reuse flowers and other decorations from ceremony to reception.
CONS
  • Decor Budget May Increase
    One-stop venues are not usually the most attractive locations and may require you to spend a lot of money to beautify the place. Also, it takes time to convert the room–you need to make sure your vendors have enough set up time.
  • Bound by the Rules
    The venue may require you to stick to a particular setup or set limitations on the use of candles or lighting and audio equipment. Also, remember to confirm which vendors can be brought in—you do not want to be locked into the venue’s referrals.
  • “Wedding Factory” Feel
    If the site hosts many weddings and relies on them for their bread and butter, it can feel a bit less like your customized wedding day and more like you’re just one in a long waiting line of brides who want to use the location.

Featured Cover Image: Katelyn James Photography

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