Saying “I do” to a venue

Find the perfect ceremony location by asking a few important questions up front
Jul 26, 2011 | By: Stefanie Wallace

There are so many tough decisions that come along with planning your wedding. Besides wanting the perfect dress, the perfect reception and the perfect wedding party, every bride wants to have an absolutely flawless wedding ceremony. And a big part of having the perfect ceremony is having the perfect location.

Although you may have certain requirements and preferences about your location, your location may also have guidelines that you must adhere to. Natalie Faria, owner of Ontario Weddings & Event Planners in Hamilton, Ont., offers questions to consider when researching venues for your ceremony.

  • Is the venue associated with a specific religion?
  • Are you able to provide your own officiate?
  • Is there a dress code or any specific rules to be aware of? (This especially applies to religious venues; some may require covered shoulders or heads.)
  • Are flower petals or rice allowed? Are there any décor/floral guidelines?
  • What is the venue capacity?
  • What does the ceremony fee include? (Chairs, a wedding arch, an officiate, music?)
  • If you have to provide your own music, is electricity available at the site (especially at outdoor venues)?
  • Is there a back-up plan for outdoor venues?
  • How much time is included in the venue rental before and after the ceremony?

After you've narrowed your venue list down to a couple of possible options, here are some other things to consider in making your decision:

  • How far away is the ceremony location from the reception location? This is a major factor, Faria says. "If there is quite a distance between the two, you should consider shuttling people from the reception location to the ceremony location, and then back to the reception location again," she advises.
  • If the ceremony is taking place at the same location as the reception, you must have a cocktail hour in between to keep your guests entertained while the wedding party is having photos taken. "It is rude to make your guests wait around for you and not entertain them," Faria says. "Cocktail reception should be all-inclusive of drinks and hors d’oeuvres."

From parks and golf courses to churches and chapels, there are so many options to consider, but don't go overboard when checking out possible locations. "There is no guideline on how many sites to look at, but narrowing it down before going to look at them is ideal to not confuse you with too many options," Faria says.

Natalie Faria has been planning weddings and events for more than 13 years for two people or up to 250,000 people. She is currently the owner of Ontario Wedding & Event Planners, which specializes in wedding and event planning, as well as destination wedding and honeymoon planning. Natalie is also the instructor of the Wedding Planning course at Mohawk College in Hamilton, Ont.

Looking for the perfect ceremony location? Find ceremony locations on, Canada’s Local Marriage Services Directory.