Our initial assumptions were to keep the wedding on the smaller side, and consider the pros and cons of partying somewhere local versus somewhere adventurous.
So how does one simply “go shopping” for a wedding venue? We took a look at who we are, who our friends and family really are, and what makes us “us.” These are some of the things we considered when choosing what was right for us between a local or destination wedding.
Local wedding, local talent
We instantly wanted a full “plug and play” rig ready for our local music friends to play for each other as well as everyone else. But, since they're all musicians, they’ve all played weddings, and we thought they wouldn't want to “work” at their friend’s wedding. We know that creatives tend to get tricked into doing favors that turn out to be more like occupational obligations and less like a lighthearted set of intentions.
Let’s invite everyone! Even the friends of the family that might be polite political maneuvers. Also, everyone can and probably will attend. “Everyone” may also add up to more than 200 people. One day has now become 200 x $100/plate = sad-faced wallet.
We’ve lived in the northeast our entire life and encountered a few gem-like celebration locations. We made a short list of three places that truly fit our style and inquired, “What do your Saturday weddings usually run?” The towering site fees of “floor space only” crushed our local dreams. All tables, chairs, linens, silverware, food, and beverage would have to be brought in a la carte. The inexpensiveness of eloping was beginning to tip the scales.
We went on vacation once to Las Vegas with some friends, and, not one but BOTH mothers called each of us to say, “If you get married out there, we want to be there! Don’t you DARE do it without us.” Clearly eloping was going to upset some people.
International destination wedding
I was gunning for invitations that said, “Belize it or not, Stacey’s getting married!” (When you spend ten years telling people you’re never getting married, they really start to believe you.) A handful of friends had been to weddings in Belize and had reported all aspects of tropical, sand, and tiny umbrellas. However, lots of our potential attendees were without a passport. This would certainly help to keep the numbers down, but we didn’t want a wedding that small.
Domestic destination wedding:
“What if we kept it in the US but found a spot that felt like a tropical paradise?” This was a brilliant idea (*tips hat to the fiancé*). We brainstormed a bit and started to hone in on the Florida Keys as an “in the US but doesn’t really feel like it” option. Now we’re getting somewhere!
Location scouting (if possible):
After researching online, talking to resident wedding planners, and emailing back and forth with the hotel staff, we picked three wedding venue choices in the Florida Keys. But, you don’t know until you get there. So we planned a trip to visit the first two, and thought if neither was a great fit, we’d hit up the third choice. We flew into Ft. Lauderdale and stayed overnight to enjoy breakfast on the beach. Then hopped down Route 1 to Holiday Isle, on to Duck Key, and finally landed in Key West for the remainder of the week. It was a lot to book, but it was worth all the hours spent discussing details and pricing.
After moving out of state a few years back and spending plenty of time alone with each other, tying the knot with our closest friends and family for a week-long destination wedding is absolutely the icing on our cake.
What are your tips for deciding between a local or destination wedding venue? What tipped the scales for you in either direction?