“We love because it's the only true adventure.”
— Nikki Giovanni (poet)
Make sure the venue has enough space for:
- All invited guests
- Bar area
- Buffet tables (if applicable)
- Cake table
- Gift table (you may want a special box for cards)
- Dance floor (getting one that’s too big makes it feels like no one is dancing, and getting one that’s too small doesn’t leave enough room for everyone to dance)
Find out your menu options.
Ask if the location has an exclusive caterer. If they do, ask about making menu suggestions. Make sure you like what you’ll be serving.
Know what and who is included.
Ask what equipment and personnel come with the venue. This way you know if there’s any additional equipment that needs to be rented or people that need to be hired. Evaluate each venue’s total cost, giving consideration to everything mentioned above.
Ask about on-site coordination.
If the location offers someone in this position, ask how involved that person will be on the day of your wedding. You’ll want to be sure everything gets done as planned.
Consider your BYOA options.
Ask if you can bring alcohol, and what the corking fee would be per bottle of wine. If there are certain brands you or your families like or just want to save money, this is one way to do it.
Factor in the tip.
Know all the areas where gratuity will be added to the final bill. You’ll want to factor this into the cost, so you’re not surprised on your wedding day.
Review their vendor list.
Get their list of recommend vendors, but don’t just blindly go with them. You never know what kind of arrangement they’ve already established with the venue to get that recommendation. Always meet each vendor for yourself before making any final decisions.
Evaluate the details.
Read all the fine print on contracts, and ask a lot of questions. You want to know exactly what you’re getting for your money.
Have a reliable power source.
Find out if there are electrical outlets nearby.
Know if there are any limits.
Find out how late music can be played, and if there are any volume restrictions.
Get the paperwork.
Make sure you have all the necessary permits.
Get the restroom facts.
If there are no usable restrooms or not enough of them to accommodate all your guests, you’ll need to rent portables (about 1 per 50 guests).
Know the rules.
Ask about the use of fire, trash removal, decorations and reservation time-frames.
Provide HOT weather essentials.
- Bottled water
- Hand fans/potable electric fans (if possible)
- Covered area to block the sun
- Bug spray and/or citronella candles to keep the insects away
Provide COLD weather essentials.
- Portable Heaters
- Backup plan for rain (adjacent indoor facility, large tent and/or umbrellas)
Take care of the food.
Make sure the food won’t spoil in the weather.
Adapt to the wind.
Choose an alternative to the unity candle, like pouring two colors of sand into a container.
Double check public locations.
Walk through the venue a day before your wedding to make sure the grounds have been thoroughly maintained.
Find more helpful hints.
Visit the special outdoor wedding tips page at: Weather.com.
Allow at least ten months to investigate locations and plan. You may need to make multiple trips to your destination to meet with vendors, sample possible menu options…
Look at package options.
Talk with travel agencies about their destination packages. Most will offer both full and menu oriented services.
Take care of your guests.
Book rooms for your wedding party and both sides of the family as soon as possible. It’s expected that they will end up paying for their lodging when the time calls for it. Also, you may want to schedule a casual gathering for everyone when they arrive, along with a suggested list of activities. Having a little welcome gift waiting in their room is also a nice touch (traditionally these are items that are made locally).
Know how you’re paying for everything.
If you’re getting married in a foreign country, be sure to talk with your bank about setting up a foreign account or personal line of credit (remember, there’s always a fluctuating exchange rate).
Find a local assistant.
Hire a wedding coordinator, or look for a hotel/wedding site that offers their own planner as part of their package. They will prove to be invaluable by assisting you with all the details that are hard to manage from a distance (your travel agent should be able to help with this). The local visitor’s bureau and the Association of Bridal Consultants can also offer referrals.
Get the paperwork done.
Allow four to six months to process all the necessary paperwork for passports, health certificates, visas, marriage licenses and other governmental requirements. Consulates, tourist boards, your local coordinator as well as your travel agent can help you.
Tell everyone far in advance.
Send out save-the-date announcements at least six months before you wedding. Include site name, hotel and airline information. You should also post this information on your wedding website… if you have one.
Have a plan when you arrive.
Get there at least two days before your wedding day, and be sure to walk through the entire venue on your own to see where you’d like to have the ceremony. Then, set an appointment for a guided tour.
Plan something at home.
If some guests are unable to make the trip, having a small celebration where you live will be much appreciated… plus, it means more gifts for you.
Know the area’s weather.
Research typical weather patterns to avoid things like hurricane season.
Pick the right distance.
Look up the tide level of the ocean for the day of your wedding, and choose your location accordingly.
Avoid a strong breeze.
Find a location near a cove.
Get the paperwork done.
Determine if you need a permit to be on a public beach (particularly if it’s a city or state park). They take several weeks or months to get.
Know the limitations.
Find out if you can have a bonfire.
Get the right equipment.
Rent flooring for chairs so they don’t sink in the sand. If guests (especially the elderly) must walk a distance on the sand, rent a golf cart to transport them.
Pick the right time of day.
To avoid uninvited guests, plan your ceremony in the early morning or at sunset.
Face the right direction.
Go there a day or two before the wedding, around the same time of day you’ll be having your ceremony, so you can do the following: see where the sun sets, determine the direction of the wind and how level/damp the sand may be.
Allow plenty of time.
Arrive early to pick up any litter.
You Should Provide:
- Tent(s) (if applicable)
- Dance floor
- Portable heaters (if applicable)
- Portable fans (if applicable)
- Plenty of lights
- Multiple garbage containers
- Kitchen space or private/accessible covered area for caterers
- Bar & alcohol
- Multiple restrooms
- Handicap accessibility
- Plenty of usable power outlets for food, lights and music
- Place for entertainment to play and be safe from bad weather
- Separate changing area for bride/bridesmaids and groom/groomsmen
Caterers Should Provide:
- Buffet heating and serving equipment
- Serving staff
What you need to do:
- Call Town Hall to see if any construction is planned for your area on your wedding day
- Make sure your caterer sees the kitchen they’ll be using so they can plan accordingly
Let your neighbors know (even if you’re not inviting them):
- Set their expectations for any noise
- Ask them to limit noise during the ceremony time
- If they are not going to be home, ask if you can use their driveway for parking