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So you and your fiance have finally settled on a wedding date. What to do next? The number one thing on your “To Do” list now is to determine the location of the wedding ceremony itself, since the rest of your wedding day will revolve around that critical locale. There are many things to keep in mind when selecting the perfect location for your wedding ceremony.

First decide whether you want to have a religious ceremony or a civil one. Religious ceremonies are, of course, held in houses of worship. Requirements for religious ceremonies vary greatly from one denomination to another. Pre-marriage counseling is required by some religions, sometimes as much as six months in advance. Others forbid interfaith marriages altogether. If you are planning to have a church wedding, you should contact your house of worship for specific guidelines and requirements. Also, you should make sure that your wedding date and time don’t conflict with the normal worship schedules of the church or temple.

A civil ceremony, on the other hand, can be held just about anywhere-the only limitation is your imagination! Local parks, botanical gardens, hotels, lakeside cottages and museums are wonderful sites for the ceremony and can also double as reception sites as well. These are popular choices because they are available for a relatively small fee, if any. Other popular places include historical mansions, bed and breakfast inns, old theaters, vineyards and wine cellars. Check our your local tourist bureau, Chamber of Commerce, or historical society for free guides to local facilities that are available for wedding ceremonies.

Finally, when making your final decision about where to have your wedding, there are a few things that you absolutely must consider to avoid planning headaches down the road:

1. Be sure to find out the restrictions, set-up times and clean-up requirements. How many guests can the place accommodate? Are you required to clean up, or will the facility staff? If so, is there an extra charge for their services?

2. Is there a deposit required? If so, how much? Is it refundable?

3. Check the site to be sure that there are dressing areas available for the bridal party members, or if there is ample space to provide your own.

4. Ask if there are any rules regarding candles, flowers, birdseed, etc. You’d hate to have to revamp your wedding plans at the last minute when you find out that you can’t burn candles in the facility or that the place assumes that you are going to donate the ceremony flowers that you'd planned on drying as keepsakes to them after the wedding is over.

5. Determine what equipment is available for your use. Don’t assume that the tables, chairs and centerpieces at the potential ceremony site will be available for your use. These items might not be for use at all, or it might be more cost effective to just rent them from an outside source.

6. During what time of year is your wedding taking place? A lavish garden wedding during a spring afternoon might look good on paper, but if you live in Florida or some other place where you can set your watch by the daily afternoon thunderstorms, you might want to rethink the outdoor plans (or at least have a contingency plan in place just in case the rain starts falling before you say, “I do.”)

These tips can help you decide the best place for you and your fiancé to exchange wedding vows and will set the tone for the rest of your hectic wedding planning. So choose your ceremony site now and the rest of the wedding details will seem to just fall into place.