When planning a wedding, secure a venue first

Planning a wedding can be a bewildering experience. But once you’ve secured the fiance and figured out a date, I firmly believe the first thing you should tackle in planning a wedding is finding a venue.

(Stock image by katman1972)

Stock image by katman1972

Why the venue first? Because it’ll probably be your biggest expense. And when it comes to big expenses, its generally better to secure the best price you can get early on, rather than get hit with exorbitant fees the closer you get to your wedding date. It’s pretty much impossible to book a wedding venue three months in advance, and you have to be wicked lucky six months out. A good rule of thumb is to secure a wedding venue a year in advance.

So, when it comes to wedding venues, there are so many choices, your head will spin. I have a few suggestions to give, but of course, they will be Southern California-centric. Other geographic regions will have different options (lakes, ranches, etc.), so take that under consideration.

Budget-friendly wedding venues

Most of the brides who find their way here are going to be on a budget, so this will top my list. When I say budget-friendly, that sometimes means all-inclusive — including cake, food, linens, ceremony location, etc. for one flat price. But there are a couple of other venues on this list that are simply just cheap and beautiful, so don’t rule out those type of venues. Get creative with your venue plans, because in all honesty — you can get married anywhere.

Your local community center

Photo by Redondo Beach Historic Library

Photo by Redondo Beach Historic Library

Having previously covered local government, I know some cities take pride in having a beautiful community center, which has the added benefit of giving them extra income as they can be rented out for weddings and events. If you live in a community with a lovely  community center (and from experience, I know some of these facilities are newer, cleaner and more modern than some hotels and banquet centers), don’t let your tax dollars go to waste, take advantage!

Beach and ocean-view wedding venues

Flickr photo by Sonia and Anil

Flickr photo by Sonia and Anil

Seeing as how this is Southern California, wedding venues on the beach or with an ocean view are a big business. As usual, getting creative could save you some big bucks in this department. Check out a state park — there are so many stretching all the way from San Diego up to Ventura County — and parks have the added benefit of being more budget friendly than a commercial venue like a restaurant or hotel.

A local winery

Photo by Bryan Frank

Photo by Bryan Frank

Southern California’s inland area has a thriving wine culture, which includes a variety of wineries from Malibu to Temecula. So if you’re a oenophilist, or you just love the look of a winery, consider a winery wedding. Most of them are ideally set up with amphitheaters for afternoon concerts — which could double nicely as a ceremony location — and have award-winning restaurants totally capable of catering a wedding.

So, these are a few ideas for wedding venues, particularly for Southern Californians. If you have a more suggestions, I would love to hear about them in the comments. And if you have a question in regards to your wedding-related planning, I would love to help out — send me a note at darleene @ weddingdecoratorblog.com, at Ask.fm, on Facebook or Google+!

Leave a Reply