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After who you'll marry, where to wed is the next big decision to make; it sets the tone for the whole affair. Here, what to think about when choosing the locations for your ceremony and reception venues.
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Weddings used to take place in the bride's hometown. But this tradition, like many others, has evolved; today, nothing is assumed about location. Pick a spot that reflects you as a couple, whether by its significance (it's the camp where you met) or by its look: You like a loft, barn, or even a train station.
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Can everyone you love get to your locale? A destination affair is so fun, but it means a smaller percentage of invitees will attend. Wherever you wed, also think twice about how close the ceremony and reception are; if they're more than a half hour apart, or you have lots of out-of-towners, it's nice to provide transportation.
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It's hard to look for venues without knowing your numbers. You two—and your parents—should make lists of "must have" and "nice to have" guests to get a range of how big or small your party will be. (Expect about 20 percent of invitees to decline depending on the location and date; more for a destination affair.)
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Don't waste time looking at places that are too pricey, but keep in mind that the venue, especially if it includes catering, will be the largest chunk of your costs, up to 40 to 50 percent.
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Ponder what you will—or won't—need to add. A restaurant already has restrooms, linen, china, and a staff, for example, and a hotel offers those things plus rooms where you can get ready and out-of-towners can stay. A loft space is an amazing blank canvas, but you (and your caterer) will likely need to bring in everything from cooking supplies to tables, and with some outdoor locales, you'll need all that—and don't forget a rain plan!