Your officiant is up front, the music starts, and all eyes turn as you as you walk down the aisle.. but what surrounds you? Is it a beautifully landscaped garden or field? Or the church in the town where you grew up? Later on in the evening, where have you chosen to set the scene? Is it an elegant downtown ballroom or a magical barn out in the countryside? There’s no right answer here, but what I’m really getting at is how to decide if you’ll multi-purposed the same venue for everything or choose a few stops throughout the day. There are pros and cons for each side – so let’s dive in!

With the increasing popularity of unique venues has come the increasing popularity of keeping everything all in one spot. There are many reasons to do this, the most logical thing being that it’s simply the easiest. Many of your guests come from out of town and the less wandering and driving you ask them to do in an unfamiliar area, the better it is for everyone. Plus you don’t need to worry about coming up with ideas for your guests to occupy themselves as they wait a few hours in between ceremony and reception, because the party can get started pretty much straight away. There is so much emotion and joy at the end of a ceremony, and usually it’s fun for everyone to just keep the momentum going and break into the bubbly!

Another factor is that you can typically get a lot more bang for your buck by keeping everything in one place. Many venues charge either no fee or a very small fee to have the ceremony on-site as well, if you are already having the reception in the space. However, if you book a space just for the ceremony, there is likely to be a standard booking fee. If you like your reception venue already, it’s worth considering holding the ceremony there was well just to save you some dough and then have one less vendor to coordinate with.

This is all being said, separate venues is by no means an old tradition or outdated in any way. I typically see people either split it up for sentimental reasons or the setting. For example, my sister will be holding her ceremony at my grandmother’s church, the church where my parents got married as well. That is where she’s dreamed of her wedding to be for many years and obviously is a very meaningful location to our entire family. Even though it’s a 30 minute drive from the reception hall, and there’s a bit of a gap between the two, no one is making any sort of fuss about it. The other trend I often see is couples wanting a beautiful outdoor ceremony, but not wanting to have to worry about the weather for the entirety of the evening. Having the ceremony in a garden or park, but moving indoors afterwards gives them the perfect dose of nature, without too many of the repercussions.

One of the biggest factors to consider when making this decision is actually photography. Is it important to you that you don’t see each other before the ceremony, or are you okay with taking all your photos before everything gets started? Usually formal photos with the couple and wedding party will take 1-2 hours minimum and a lot of people have started making use of the time before their ceremony to do these so you can all enjoy the reception as well, especially if it’s starts immediately after the ceremony. If you don’t want to see each other before the ceremony however, you’ll need to have time for these afterwards, which may mean missing a good chunk of your reception. Plus, sometimes it’s just fun to cruise around with the wedding party to enjoy each other’s company before seeing everyone else!

There’s no right answer here, but hopefully I’ve left you with a few things to chew on as you make this decision. If you’re already married, which way did you go? Feel free to sound off below!