Planning a Wedding at a Special Site

With a little ingenuity, you can come up with a special wedding location that will express your individual personality beautifully, but also be a logistical success. Listed below are some issues to consider when planning the wedding of your dreams at an unusual site:

1. Book early for popular sites: These places can fill up a year or more in advance. For locations such as public parks or beaches you may need to obtain city permits.
2. Find out if you can be married there: Some places only allow receptions; they do not permit the actual marriage ceremony to be performed in their facilities. Yet they may allow you to marry outdoors in their gardens. Be clear on what events you expect to happen where. And if you’re not sure if a site allows wedding ceremonies, be sure to ask!
3. Be aware of any restrictions: Ask the management of the site about any special considerations. Private locations such as historic homes, museums, or aquariums often have rules regarding everything from food, alcohol, smoking, photography, and/or music. Regulations on alcohol vary: you may have to provide your own alcohol, only serve beer or wine, alcohol may be prohibited. Also they may require you to contract with their caterer or choose from list of approved vendors.
4. Consider special liability insurance: Certain sites actually require you to purchase their insurance, or you may decide to hedge your bets yourself. In any case, add this to the anticipated cost of the site.
5. Know what will be provided before hand: This way nothing will be overlooked and there won’t be any last minute disastrous surprises. Often, private locations have tables and chairs you can use or rent. Usually you must obtain linens, china, and cutlery on your own. Again, be sure to include the cost of items or their rental in your estimation of the expense and have a plan to transport tables and chairs if you are responsible for providing them.
6. Check out all amenities, or lack of: Outdoor sites may have access problems or insufficient parking areas. Also you will probably need to invest in portable restrooms. For both indoor and outdoor locations you will have to devise a way to provide power supply for your entertainment, music and lighting.
If you plan to be indoors, consider appropriate climate control depending on the time of year (air conditioning or heating). Also many places do not have kitchens, or their facilities are inadequate for the demands of serving many guests. Have a plan for resolving all of these relevant issues before you commit to a site.
7. Plan enough space for all guests: This applies mainly to indoor sites, where you need sufficient room for seating and also to facilitate entertainment. If you plan on having dancing, be sure there is a dance floor or space that can be converted for that purpose.

What if your perfect site only accommodates half your guests?

If worse comes to worst you may have to trim your guest list or chose a new site. However, here are some other solutions to investigate before dropping either people or your dream wedding location:

1. Set up tents on the lawn so the party can flow outdoors. Even dance floors can be assembled as long as the ground is relatively flat.
2. Design your wedding, reception and entertainment around the layout of your facility. For example: historic estates often have many small divided rooms instead of one large one. This arrangement lends itself more to mingling during a cocktail reception than a more static sit-down dinner, where guests not seated in the same room as the bridal party may feel left out of the festivities.