Location really is everything when it comes to this important big-day detail.

January 29, 2020
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BRAEDON FLYNN

Location, location, location. You've heard it so many times before, but it is, in fact, entirely true when it comes to finding the right place to wed. Plus, it's the first decision you need to make, since venues book up fast. The best locale provides the magic you want but also works within your budget, fits your crew (and isn't too big, either), and is staffed to pull off a smooth celebration.

So how do you find the ideal place to tie the knot? Start with geographics: Do you see your nuptials in the city, the country, on a beach—or somewhere in between? Ponder the pros and cons of sites nearby (convenience) and far-flung (dreamy, but can everyone swing the trip?). Then weigh the need for two places—a church or synagogue to make it official, an event space to party in—versus one that can do both. The Haiku Mill, in Maui, Hawaii, seen here, has breathtaking spots for ceremonies and receptions. "It's stunning," says Alison Hotchkiss of Alison Events Planning and Design. "Lush greenery everywhere, and Hawaii's weather never disappoints."

As with all-things wedding-related, it's important to factor the cost of your wedding venue into your overall budget. How much yours will set you back depends on the specific venue you choose, but it's a good rule of thumb to set aside 10 to 15 percent of your budget for your venue. And don't wait too long to start looking. We think it's best to aim to secure your venue a year in advance of your ideal wedding day; you'll have a better chance of negotiating a deal.

Don't let how much you love it stop you from paying attention to the finer points, though. Before signing a contract, be sure to ask about rain-plan options and restrictions (like noise curfews) that could be a deal breaker—and get it all down in writing.

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