We wanted a waterfront wedding… we even considered a destination (From Maryland, but checked Bahamas and Carribbean, as well as southern Florida for that similar feel without the bigger travel price)… Plus we knew we’d lose a lot of people, and inconvenience even more. Florida area was super expensive for the reception as, so we had to sacrifice the dream of palm trees and blue water =( Blah.
So I looked around Maryland. Surprisingly, a LOT of venues have few or crappy pictures on their website! I was like, why should I even decide to consider you if I don’t know what your property looks like?? -_- So stupid. Anyway.
FIRST we decided what season and time of day we wanted. We wanted it to be warm so we could have an outside ceremony, but we also wanted a sunset. That very quickly limited us to September…
After I found some places with “waterfront” options, I google image searched them for other couples’ weddings who posted their pics online somewhere, and checked ratings/reviews (helped)
Then I contacted a bajillion places for PRICE quotes based on my probable date(s) and how many people I expected to show.
Then we VISITED them (All SO DIFFERENT in person! You HAVE to see your venue if your venue is important to you)
Then I haggled between a couple competitive places to get some prices down.
THEN we sat down and made a spreadsheet of all the pros/cons between the 3 we had narrowed down. Considered factors like distance, traffic, parking, best place for pictures, etc…
I got my mom and MOH to check out two venues as well, just for unbiased second opinions
And then… Ta da!
It took a while. But we’re also incredibly indecisive 😉
suggestions specifically for you:
– Look at a lot of pictures of wedding ideas for different types/regions. See what appeals to you most (might include fiance on this too; he might have an opinion that helps narrow it down). This will help you narrow down the feel, season, and possibly time of day (Like I LOVED clear top tents with lighting at night… but it was too expensive, as it would require an a la carte wedding, so we eventually opted for an all-inclusive venue instead). Decide on the “type” you want first (beach, mountain, luxury, rustic, etc.) Narrow it down to maybe TWO types, and then…
– Consider your guests… Will there be a lot of kids or college students (Best to do January or over summer break)? Are they wealthy enough to travel a long distance, or would a shorter one be better? What will the weather be like for traveling to wherever? Can they get their by car or train, or have to fly? Consider the cost of hotels in the area also. What do you think would be an overall nice location to vacation? Because you’re basically asking your guests to take at least a short vacation. If the only allure to the area is the wedding venue, it won’t go over as well, most likely.
Destination weddings are a lot of money for guests, and you will probably lose a lot of people or at least slightly perturb them. If you can choose a place that’s overall agreeable to just BE at, it’d be nicer for them. (This is mainly why we decided against a destination wedding. It’d be cheaper for us, but we knew we’d lose people. Our families aren’t terribly well-off, and we thought we be kinda selfish to require people to pay hundreds of dollars each just to attend a wedding… so our guilt was enough to skip the dream. lol We didn’t want to feel guilty/piss people off for our wedding. Your situation has to be tailored to you though! That was just our situation and feelings on it). But if you have people traveling in from all over, you’re right in that it probably doesn’t matter. Pretty much everyone with us is within an hour of us! So asking them to travel far away just felt mean. lol Maybe try to pick a location that’s more central to the most people as well?
–If you need to be able to not visit the venue first, make sure the venue has a lot of photos. Most times when you contact the location, you can ask for additional photos. Every place I’ve asked has had photos to send me. It helped a lot. If not, usually they can take some for you.
–Also, check online for wedding photos from other people. Google like “venue name+wedding+photo” or something similar. Usually you’ll have like “Gina & Tim’s Wedding!” pop up. Image search also can show you some things. I’ve found wedding videos as well, which also help.
–Check reviews and ratings, if possible. Sometimes you can find coordinators or people local to the area who will help you out for free of charge.
— Contact local vendors. Like I was talking to a possibly photography guy, and I asked him about two venues that I hadn’t been to yet. He was able to give me some good insight, since he’d shot weddings at both locations.
–Inquire on here, the boards – especially if it’s a populous area – if anyone has seen or been to that location for any events
— Get price quotes
— If you can narrow down an area, you MIGHT want to consider a quick trip to check out two or three venues. Like if you decide you like a few places in Miami or something. Maybe you can go down there and knock them all out at once. But it’s not totally necessary.
Hope that was enough to help ^_^