beautiful wedding day after couple organizes wedding planning

Step-by-Step: Where to Start Wedding Planning

Planning your wedding is a journey that can takes a million turns…but they all lead to a wonderful big day. We’ve put together a step-by-step guide that (hopefully) makes those turns not so curvy and helps you enjoy the ride.

Step 1: Sit down and talk with your fiancé.

Every couple gets excited about different details…the dresses, tuxes, wedding menu, décor. The list could go on and on. But before you head to the store or start scheduling meetings, take a step back.

The first step of wedding planning—-where you should really start planning your wedding—is a conversation with your fiancé. This is the time for you to discuss your wants (“what is one thing you want in our big day?”) and important details (“what time of year do we want to get married?”), such as the location (city and state), date/time of year, size of the wedding (large or intimate), and budget.

The latter should involve a lengthy discussion of how much you both have for the wedding and how you intend to pay for it. This part of the discussion may lead to talks with other family members or friends that have expressed interest in contributing.

As you discuss the wedding budget (this wedding budget worksheet can help), ask yourselves how much time you have to devote to wedding planning. If the answer is “not much,” make sure you allocate funds to hiring a full- or part-time wedding planner. (The pros and cons of hiring a wedding planning may be helpful in your decision.)

Step 2: Choose a wedding venue.

The wedding venue is the backdrop for your big day; it sets the tone style wise for nearly every other detail. Before you start visiting wedding venues, ask yourself what style you prefer (i.e. rustic, historic, elegant, modern) and what date or time of year you want to get married.

If you don’t have an exact date, don’t stress (and read through these tips for choosing the right wedding date). In some ways, having a month or season in mind can actually help you find the right wedding venue. Once you and your fiancé have decided on the time of year (and year), you can contact wedding venues and ask them what dates are available during your preferred time period.

In addition to style and date, you and your fiancé should also set criteria for your wedding venue (this wedding venue checklist is helpful). You don’t want to choose a wedding venue that is too big or small, so it’s helpful to have an estimated amount of guests in mind. You should always tour wedding venues before signing on the dotted line, but make sure you ask these wedding venue questions and look for these important details during the tour.

Step 3: Get organized.

Once the biggest details are confirmed, the next step is to organize yourself for the next steps of wedding planning. If you are hiring a wedding planner, this is the time to choose a wedding planner; many wedding venues offer full- and part-time wedding planners that can handle as little or as much of the planning process as requested. The major advantage of hiring a venue’s wedding planner is that the professional is intimately familiar with the venue and local wedding vendors.

If you are taking on the wedding planning yourself, this is your chance to decide whether to use digital or printables (in a binder)—or a combination of both—to manage your wedding planning checklist and deadlines. When a digital approach is your top choice, this list of the best wedding apps can help you choose the app to download. If you prefer paper, it’s time to start downloading these wedding planning printables and establish the system that gets you from planning to enjoying your special day.

wedding day at a reception hall with bride and groom dancing after wedding planning

How long is a wedding reception?

Planning a wedding reception timeline is about piecing together all those wonderful details into the perfect wedding day timeline. It starts with “how long should our wedding reception be?” (a reception should last 4-5 hours) and ends with an amazingly coordinated wedding reception that fits your unique style.

How to plan a wedding reception

Choose the right wedding venue

A spectacular wedding reception starts with an amazing backdrop, though the amazing shouldn’t end there. The right location comes with a wedding venue checklist that should be checked off. You should plan on asking wedding venue questions about:

  • Availability (use these tips to get a wedding venue if you don’t have your heart set on a particular wedding date)
  • Location (city and area)
  • Style (that matches who you are as a couple)
  • Parking/access to parking (for guest convenience)
  • Interior space for the estimated guest list
  • Spaces for wedding day (restrooms, wedding party suites, etc.)
  • Venue staff availability (for pre-planning and managing activities night of)
  • Cost (ask about amount of time included, overtime fees, and extra charges)
  • Insurance (just in case of an emergency on the wedding day)
  • Vendors (whether there are required vendors or if the couple can bring in their favorites)

If you need wedding planning services (either full or part-time), this is the time to ask if the service is offered and the cost. Remember to always ask about the best way to contact the venue. Wedding planning is full of pre-wedding day calls and e-mails; it’s important to choose a wedding venue that responds quickly to your routine—and emergency—calls.

Start with a wedding day timeline

Every wedding day is different, but there is a general wedding day schedule you can use to start planning your big day:

  • Cocktail Hour
  • Dinner
  • Toasts
  • Cake Cutting
  • Wedding Dances (Wedding Party Announcement, First Dance, Mother-Son Dance, Father-Daughter Dance, Etc.)
  • Last Dance
  • Cake Cutting

Select the right vendors

The next step in planning a wedding reception is to start selecting the wedding vendors that can make every part of the reception come to life (and capture every moment of it!) Typically, you should book the following vendors:

  • Décor
  • Equipment Rental (such as tables and chairs if the venue does not provide it)
  • Florist
  • Caterer
  • Photographer (and videographer, if desired)
  • Bakery (for cake, if caterer does not provide)
  • Entertainer (band or DJ)

Selecting the right vendors is process; as tempting as it may be to Google and hire vendors, resist the urge. Choosing and hiring wedding vendors requires research and an in-person contacts. As you look for wedding vendors, always be diligent about watching for these red flags:

  • No business address
  • Delay in responding to calls or e-mails
  • Asking for full payment up front (when the charges are substantial)
  • Reluctance to provide customer testimonials or proof of satisfied customers

Be cautious about hiring wedding vendors that you don’t have experience with, such as friends of friends or family members. As well meaning as your friends may be, “my brother can cut you a deal” is a risk that often results in sub-par service.

Contact every potential vendor with a list of questions:

  • What services do you offer?
  • What is included in the quoted cost?
  • How long have you been in business?
  • What is your business’ back-up plan in case of an emergency?
  • Do you carry insurance?
  • How should we contact you in the future?
  • Are there any deadline we should be aware of?

If you need assistance finding local vendors, don’t hesitate to contact your wedding venue. An experienced wedding staff member can recommend local wedding vendors that have delivered fantastic services to other couples in the past.

Coordinate the details

Once you have hired your vendors, it’s time to coordinate the details that turn your vision into the wedding reception of your dreams. This is the wedding planning step where you start setting a wedding day schedule, checking off steps on your wedding planning checklist, and looking forward to a very special and spectacular big day.

wedding pictures from beautiful wedding done by wedding vendors

7 Must-Have Free Wedding Planning Printables

A wedding planning binder can be a powerful tool—and an organized one too, with these free wedding planning printables. If you want to tackle every part of your wedding planning—or just select parts with the help of a part-time wedding planner—these sheets are the perfect way to start turning ideas into the day of your dreams.

In addition to these wedding planning printables, couples should also add pockets to the binder for ideas (i.e. pictures of dresses, cakes, etc.), wedding vendor contracts, receipts, and contact information. This is where organization counts! Every item should be arranged so that everything is easy-to-find when needed.

Wedding Discussion Questions

Always use this list of questions FIRST! These questions are the perfect first step that can guide every wedding planning decision. Print out this blog post and write down you and your fiance’s answers (some of those answers might surprise you!); you’ll love to have those answers on-hand as you navigate through the wedding planning process.

Wedding Planning Checklist

A wedding planning checklist is the ultimate step-by-step guide that gives you an idea of when to contact vendors. This can be incredibly helpful as you decide what needs to be done next. If you use a part-time wedding planner, this checklist can help you divvy up tasks and assign deadlines.

Wedding Planning Checklist from Real Simple

Wedding Budget Worksheet

A wedding budget is often one of the most overlooked steps of wedding planning (which is why couples tend to make these wedding budget mistakes). It doesn’t have to be, especially with this wedding budget worksheet that helps you track expenses and stay within your wedding budget.

Wedding Venue Checklist, Tour Checklist & Questions

One of the most important first wedding planning decisions is choosing a venue and ceremony site. In some cases, this location may be one venue (use these tips for choosing the perfect ceremony and reception venue). The wedding venue is the foundation of all those other wedding details, which is why it’s important to select the perfect backdrop for your big day.

As you contact wedding venues, use this list of venue questions that can help you select the sites that fits your timeline, style, budget, and vision for the day.

Never choose a wedding venue without touring the site. This Wedding Venue Tour Checklist is a great aid to make sure you have found a venue that checks off all the boxes.

Wedding Reception Timelines

These wedding reception timelines can be a great start to setting a wedding reception timeline. You can use any of these wedding reception timelines, or customize it into the wedding day of your dreams.

3 Sample Wedding Reception Timelines from Lover.ly

simple elegant wedding centerpieces with silver vases and purple roses

8 Pros and Cons of Hiring a Wedding Planner

If you’re not sure about taking on that long wedding planning checklist, this list of the pros and cons of hiring a wedding planner is for you. A wedding planner can be a huge asset during wedding planning OR take away all the fun of planning your day you’ve always dreamed about.

If you’re a list-maker (and if you’re planning a wedding, you have to be), this list can help you decide whether to add a wedding planner to your team or organize your wedding planning and get ready for the next step.

Pro: A wedding planner can take on as much of the planning—or as little—as you want.

It’s one of the most common wedding planning myths—and misunderstandings—that can get in the way of hiring a wedding planner. Many couples believe that hiring a wedding planner is an all-or-none proposition; the truth is that many wedding planners can take on as much or as little as the couple wants. To make sure that your preferred wedding planner is willing to take on the task on a part-time basis, ask them if they provide full- and part-time services during your first meeting.

Con: Not everyone wants to let go of the planning.

Before hiring a wedding planner, ask yourself, “Do I enjoy planning events? Have I been looking forward to wedding planning?” The answer is different for everyone. Some couples love to dive into every detail of wedding planning while others prefer to dabble in the process.

If your answer is somewhere in the middle, the answer might be a part-time wedding planner. If this is your choice, make sure that your lines of communication are open and that everyone is on the same page. You can find a part-time wedding planner through your venue or at your venue; many venues offer wedding planning services. The benefit of utilizing venue services is that the staff are intimately familiar with every aspect of the building.

Pro: Wedding planners know local vendors that can turn your ideas into reality.

One of the biggest advantages of a wedding planner is their network. Because wedding planners work within the community, they know who to go to for every kind of task: catering, lighting, décor, etc. Wedding planners can take on researching and making out-of-the-box requests reality, saving you time and adding their expertise to the process.   

Con: You may feel detached from the process.

If you’ve always dreamed of planning your big day, hiring a wedding planner might be a let-down. While wedding planners coordinate every detail, couples can feel like it’s someone else’s event. This can be especially true if couples aren’t in touch with wedding planner on a regular basis.

This con can also show up when a friend or family member offers to plan the wedding. While this may seem like an ideal arrangement, sometimes even the most well-meaning acquaintance can start planning their day—and not yours.

Pro: You can still enjoy the parts of wedding planning you want to do.

For couples that want to handle their favorite details, hiring a part-time wedding planner can be ideal. It’s a chance to handle the details you really want to do. If you and your partner are foodies, you can enjoy caterer tastings and traveling around to find the best food favors. For those who love to dance, you can scout wedding entertainers and plan a really spectacular first dance.

Con: Wedding planning adds another expense to the wedding budget list.

Obviously, hiring a wedding planner does come with a cost. If your wedding budget is tight, you may not want to stretch it any farther (though you may want to use these wedding budget tips). In these cases, it makes cents (literally) to hire a part-time wedding planner for only the most essential wedding planning tasks or to take on the task yourself. If the latter is your only choice, these tips can kickstart your wedding planning and help keep you organized as you plan your wedding.

Pro: A wedding planner can troubleshoot any wedding planning problems.

This is where the experience of a wedding planner can be a huge advantage. In addition to having connections to local vendors, an experienced wedding planner has usually been there and fixed that. Their experience allows them to solve even the most unusual problems and fix the most common problems quickly and efficiently.

Pro: You have more time!

Most married couples can attest to the fact that wedding planning is like a second job (which is why a date night is essential!) Hiring a wedding planner makes that job seem more part-time, allowing couples to enjoy the process and have more free time.

newlyweds cutting white wedding cake at wedding venue with blooms

Quick Guide to Planning a Wedding in 6 Months

Throw that two-year wedding planning checklist out the window. These wedding planning tips are for couples who want to get married in six months (or less!)—and are ready to plan and enjoy their dreaming wedding day (soon)!

Nail down most of the big details with your fiancé.

The best way to start wedding planning—before calling wedding venues or heading to the store—is to have a talk with your new fiancé. This discussion is an opportunity to get on the same page about important wedding planning details. It’s a time to start asking:

  • Where do we want to get married? (Discuss the city, ceremony site, any special venues you have in mind.)
  • When do we want to get married? (If you don’t have a set date, it’s okay to decide on a month.)
  • How big of a wedding do we want? (You don’t have to set a guest list but you should have a general guest count in mind.)
  • What is our budget? Where are the funds coming from? (This is the time to be honest about finances and discuss any friends or family that have expressed an interest in helping.)
  • What is the one thing you’ve always wanted on your wedding day? (The answer to this question may surprise you!)
  • How much time do we have for wedding planning? (Be honest! If you need some help, add “wedding planning services” to your wedding venue checklist.)
  • What is our style? What style or wedding theme reflects us as a couple?

Start contacting wedding venues.

One of the most important details to confirm is the site of your nuptials. After all, you need to know the location before you set a wedding day timeline or drafting invitations. This is the time to start researching wedding venues and prepping your wedding venue questions.

If you have a set wedding date, this is your chance to narrow your choices of wedding venues. Make a list of potential wedding venues that are within your preferred location, can accommodate your approximate guest count, and fit with your style. When you contact the wedding venue, your first wedding venue question, “Are you available on our wedding date?” can tell you if that venue is worth a visit or should be crossed off the list.

For couples without a set date, ask potential wedding venues for open dates during you and your fiance’s preferred month or season. If the venue is incredibly popular, be open to alternate wedding days (instead of a Saturday) that may be open. As an added benefit, alternate wedding dates (such as on a Friday or Sunday) may be less expensive than a Saturday.     

Make wedding planning an organized effort.

Planning a wedding in six months is an expedited process—and one that can go a lot smoother if it is organized (especially with these tips for organizing wedding planning). Start with a paper wedding planning checklist or a good wedding planning app that helps you check items off the list. Never start wedding planning without an excellent wedding budget worksheet (and good budgeting advice) that keeps your expenses within the amount set by you and your fiancé.

Remember, if you want to bring in a team of friends and family to help, great—but be careful! Even the most well-intentioned volunteers can miss deadlines or overstep their bounds.

Vet vendors carefully and quickly.

Remember, while you have to move down your wedding planning checklist quickly, never overlook one of the most important steps: vetting wedding vendors. Just one misstep can lead to an unscrupulous vendor who leaves you high and dry on your wedding day—and adds to what can already be a stressful time.

When looking for vendors, such as your caterer, photographer, entertainer, or videographer, always research each vendor carefully. In addition to checking out their website and social media sites, carefully look through reviews (especially on third-party websites like the Knot, Wedding Wire, or Yelp) to see what other couples have felt about their experience.

Be wary of amateurs recommended by friends (“oh my cousin can totally help!” or “I have a friend who does this on the side”)—especially if you and your friends have never seen them in action. Unfortunately, if an amateur shuts down or takes an extremely large down payment, you may not have many options to recover your lost funds.  

Don’t just be careful about vendors. If you have any items that need to be ordered, always ask about the expected delivery date. Never order any items that may not make it in until the last minute.

Take breaks.

Wedding planning can feel overwhelming and even stressful—especially when you’re on a tight timeline! Even though you feel like you have to get everything done, plan periodic date nights where you can enjoy being together. There are a lot of great ways to de-stress in Milwaukee! (Plus you can turn some of them into a de-stressing double-duty date that you can use for wedding planning!)

wisconsin wedding venue with beautiful love sign and local flavors

17 Romantic Milwaukee Wedding Proposal Ideas

Are you thinking about proposing to your significant other in Milwaukee? Good news! Whether, you are planning an elaborate proposal or a simple, “will you marry me?” Milwaukee is full of sites perfect for your big moment.

How to Plan a Wedding Proposal in Milwaukee

Choose the right ring for the proposal

The first step in any Milwaukee wedding proposal is considering what you’re going to propose with. What is the perfect ring for the occasion? For some couples, this may involve a ring shopping trip. If you want to keep it a secret, you can always make a trip to the store alone or ask another relative for a ring that holds some meaning. If you’re an out-of-the-box couple, you may want to go another route and choose a momento that holds meaning to you as a couple.

Think about who you want there

Some couples prefer a private proposal with just the two of them. Others love to include others—sometimes friends and family, sometimes a crowd—in their proposal idea. If you’re a couple who wants to make your proposal more of the latter, start thinking—and contacting—special friends and family that would love to share in your special moment.

Pick the perfect wedding proposal site

The exact proposal can be as simple as a dropped knee or a lean-in with a “will you marry me?” or an elaborate surprise (like these great proposal ideas that you can customize). Whatever you decide, Milwaukee is full of some great backdrops for your special moment together (to capture the moment, contact a friend of professional photographer to get great shots of your proposal).

Think about the next step

If the answer to your proposal is a “yes,” enjoy the moment (and all the moments after!) When it’s time to start planning your big day, use these wedding planning days that get you on the way to making that vision of your wedding day a reality.

bride and groom dancing at summer wedding reception in beautiful wedding venue

(Fun!) Ways to Enjoy Your Milwaukee Wedding Planning

Planning your wedding in Milwaukee can feel adventurous or overwhelming. These cool ways can make it feel more adventurous than overwhelming—and give you and your partner a chance to enjoy the site of your big day.

Plan a date night at one our fantastic Milwaukee breweries or wineries.

Milwaukee is known for its distinctive ales and unique breweries. If you’re a lover of an occasional brew (or fanatical about your ales), a night out at one of Milwaukee’s breweries can be a great way to choose ales for an interactive tasting station at your wedding reception. A night out at a brewery can also give you the clues you need to decide if it would be a good stop for a toast after your ceremony—or for the big wedding dinner toast.

If you have a palette more for a delectable wine produced at one of our Wisconsin vineyard, schedule a field trip with your fiancé—or your wedding party—to find a wine that was suitable for your big day. A local wine can be the perfect wedding favor (with customized labels) or addition to welcome baskets for out-of-town guests.

Enjoy your time visiting Milwaukee wedding venues and caterers.

Your wedding venue and menu are the highlights of your big day—so why shouldn’t you enjoy the selection process? Once you’ve narrowed down the options for your wedding venue, plan a fun night visiting venues (through a scheduled visit or at an open house) with your significant other. (If you don’t have a lot of time for lots of visits, choose a wedding venue with an on-site planner that can turn your vision into reality.) Caterer tastings can be just as fun—especially if you choose a venue that gives you the option to bring in your favorite.

Scout your favorite photo opp locations.

In Wisconsin, couples typically take two different approaches to photos. The first approach is to head to a favorite location for photos after the ceremony (and to a few local bars or eateries for a wedding party toast). The second approach is to choose a wedding venue for every part of your big day: ceremony, photos, cocktail hour, and the reception.

Whatever approach you take, one of the best wedding planning outings can involve scouting unique locations that make the best sites for unique wedding shots. There are so many options in Milwaukee and around: state parks on Lake Michigan, along the Milwaukee River, at a local museum (think the Milwaukee Public Museum, Harley Davidson Museum, Milwaukee Art Museum, etc.), the Milwaukee County Zoo, or at one of our cool historic sites. The possibilities are endless, and picturing your wedding day during a pre-wedding visit can be just as fun.

Make an adventure out of finding local tastes to include in your big day.

Local tastes can add a one-of-a-kind flavor to any wedding day—and the search for those tastes can be the perfect pre-wedding adventure! In addition to breweries and wineries, enjoy sampling and choosing your local favorites at local Farmer’s Markets, farms, restaurants, and diners. The search can be as fun as incorporating them into your menu, in interactive tables, as favors, or in welcome baskets for special guests who choose to be part of your big day.

Enjoy planning the perfect surprise.

If you love secrets, this wedding planning task—a wedding reception surprise—is the perfect addition to your wedding planning list. The possibilities for a wedding surprise are endless: a choreographed dance, a surprise visit by a favorite Wisconsin mascot, a pop-in from a local entertainer, or one of these fantastic wedding reception ideas.  

The Ultimate Wedding Venue Checklist

Once the glow of popping the question wears off (and the “yes!”), the next logical question is “where?” The good news is that there are quite a few wedding venues in the Milwaukee area that make a beautiful backdrop for any couple’s big day.

Narrowing down those options to the perfect wedding venue can feel overwhelming, because choosing the right wedding venue is a big choice. This is the site of your wedding, after all, and it’s incredibly important.

The right wedding venue is the foundation of all your other wedding details. It can be the perfect backdrop with a staff that makes wedding planning less stressful—-or the complete opposite. That’s why we put together a wedding venue checklist. This guide can help you choose the best wedding venue that fits all your criteria and makes you and your guests say “wow!”

Of course, before you start venue hunting, don’t skip the crucial steps of setting a budget and asking your fiancé some crucial wedding planning questions. From there, use this wedding venue checklist to narrow down your options to a list of venues worthy of a venue tour.

Venue Availability

___ Available on wedding date (If you don’t have a wedding date, ask the wedding venue for available dates during your desired season or month.)

___ Exclusive use of wedding venue (This is important if you don’t want other events held at the wedding venue at the same time.)

___ Guest accommodation (Use these tips to set a wedding guest list. Always ask the wedding venue for the number of guests they can accommodate for comfort and safety.)

___ Ceremony space (Applicable if you want to hold your wedding ceremony and reception at the venue. Also ask if guests need to wait for breakdown and set-up after the ceremony.)  

Venue Cost

___ Budget-friendly (Don’t forget to ask how many hours are included in the rate, if there are any overtime fees, and what equipment is included in the cost.)

___ Wedding planning services (This is important for couples who want help with some or all of the wedding planning.)

___ Venue staffing (Ask if there is any staff included in the rate, such as an on-site manager, coat check, and bar staff.)

Venue Policies

___ Liability insurance (Very important! Be careful about booking a wedding venue without insurance.)

___ Cancellation policy (Be sure to ask just in case of an issue. If you are in the military, ask if the date can be moved without penalty.)

___ Vendors included (This can include the caterer, décor, equipment, and even the photographer.)

OR

___ Open-vendor policy (An open vendor policy allows you to select and bring in your vendor of choice, such as your favorite caterer.)

___ No limitations on volume and alcohol

Wedding Venue Accommodations

___ Guest Parking (Ask to see the parking lot to make sure it is close and affordable.)

___ Handicap Accessibility

___ Close to local accommodations for out-of-town guests (i.e. hotels, inns, etc.)

30 Wedding Venue Tour Questions You Need to Ask

wedding couple dancing at wedding venueDuring a wedding venue tour, it’s easy to get caught up in the beauty—so much so that you forget to ask about all those pesky practical details! However, those practical details are incredibly important to planning and pulling off the day of your dreams. (Just as important as actually seeing the venue. Never book a wedding venue without scheduling a tour. Sometimes online photos can be deceiving.)

While you’re absorbing and taking in all those beautiful details on your wedding tour, make sure you ask these questions and discuss the details that can make or break your wedding day.

Parking/Location
  • Is there nearby parking? How many guests can park in the lot/structure?
  • How far do my guests need to walk? Is there a shuttle?
  • What is the cost? (Tip: include parking costs in communications sent to your guests prior to your wedding day.)
  • Are there any hotels in the area?
  • Is there a public transit stop nearby? How far?
Spaces & Staff
  • How many guests can your wedding venue accommodate? (Tip: have an estimated guest count before touring venues to ensure the venues are not too big and not too small.)
  • Is your venue handicap-accessible? Are there any stairs my guests need to climb?
  • Is there a dressing area for me and my attendants?
  • Is the dressing room secure so we can store valuable items?
  • Will there be a staff member on-site during my wedding? Who can I contact if I have any questions or problems?
  • Can I see the restrooms? Who is in charge of monitoring and restocking the restrooms on our wedding day?
Ceremony site
  • Is there space for my ceremony?
  • If so, do my guests have to wait while the ceremony site is taken down?
  • If the site is outside, what is plan B in case of bad weather?
Entertainment Needs
  • Have other DJs/bands played here?
  • Is there anything I need to pass on to my entertainer about your system?
Planning
  • Can I bring in my own caterer or do I have to choose from a list or preferred vendors?
  • Who do I contact about planning details? What is the best way to contact you?
  • When does the contract need to be signed?
  • What is your cancellation policy?
  • Are there any deadlines I need to meet?
  • Do you offer event planning services? Can you assist me with some or all of the planning?

Choosing the Best Wedding Ceremony and Reception Venue

bride above a beautiful wedding receptionHosting a wedding ceremony and reception in the same place can be a matter of convenience or budget; in both cases, it can be beautiful (and not quite as easy as typing in “Milwaukee wedding venues near me.”) However, choosing a wedding venue for both the ceremony and venue does add a few more boxes to your wedding venue checklist.

Search for venues with space for the ceremony and reception without inconveniencing guests.

Hosting a ceremony and reception at the same wedding venue brings continuity to the day and virtually eliminates transportation costs. It’s incredibly convenient for guests as well; they don’t have to leave one venue to head to another or even stop for refreshments on the way.

Instead, guests enjoy a beautiful wedding ceremony, offer their congratulations, and enjoy the amenities of a wonderful cocktail hour—all before sitting down to the start of a wonderful wedding reception. To maintain the flow of the festivities, search for a venue with space for both areas (ask if there is space for a ceremony with these other wedding venue questions) without the inconvenience of a huge breakdown by staff.

Look for a wedding venue with convenient parking.

In addition to enough space, you should also look for a wedding venue with parking. No one wants their guests heading for the exit so they can plug their parking meter. If you’re planning on holding the ceremony and reception at the same site, choose a wedding venue with on-site parking so guests can enjoy the day without worrying.

Consider your less-mobile guests.

A wedding ceremony and reception is a gift to guests who may not be able to get around very easily, unless it is hard to get from one area to another. If you have guests on the list who have mobility issues, consider them as you tour the venue. Is it easy for them to get around? If the ceremony outside, can all your guests get to it? Is the venue handicap-accessible?

Look for wedding venue dressing spaces.

A wedding day comes with a few logistical details that may not be the most fantastic but are incredibly necessary. Dressing spaces and storage are two of those minor details that play a big part in enjoying your special day. When touring the venue, ask to see dressing spaces so you and your attendants can change when needed and store items without worry.

Find the décor that sets the stage for the ceremony and reception.

Another huge (and budget-saving) benefit of planning a wedding ceremony and reception at the same place is that wedding décor can be used for both events. Keep this in mind as you plan your wedding day; look for décor that works for both the ceremony and reception.

Plan a fantastic cocktail hour.

The cocktail hour is the core of a seamless wedding day (especially when the ceremony and reception are in the same place). Talk to the wedding venue about ways to make the cocktail hour a fantastic and seamless part of the day. Look for ways to integrate every detail of the cocktail hour with the ceremony and reception details so the transition feels smooth and flawless.