Last week I started talking about the first steps you should take in planning your wedding, and that list continues this week with step number two. After you pick your date, the most logical and helpful thing to do is to pick your venue. Some venues may not be an option for your date, but unless its your absolute dream location, dont let it throw you for a loop. In fact, you want some places to be unavailable so that you can automatically cross them off your list and move along. As for picking the right venue I cant tell you where to get married, but I can give you a few things to keep in mind when you are deciding.
You dont have to already have your guest list inked out, but you should have a general idea of how many people you will be inviting before you go venue shopping. Aside from price, the biggest factor that will determine whether or not a site will work, is whether or not it can accommodate and also not overwhelm your crowd. This means when youre scrolling through the internet looking for places, be sure to check capacity first.
Baltimore and D.C. have some amazing places to get married, but they dont always have amazing parking lots. Some venues require you to hire a valet service, some suggest street parking, and others recommend a shuttle from the hotel to the ceremony and so on. Valet and shuttle services are a great option as long as you have the budget for it, and street parking is fine if the majority of your guests are familiar with the area and comfortable parallel parking. There are always solutions to parking problems, and a lack of parking should never completely rule out a venue, but it should definitely be on the top of the pros and cons list.
Most places that are set up to do weddings will have a detailed and somewhat lengthy list of what is and isnt allowed. Its pretty standard and pretty common sense, but it can be a big factor in whether or not you choose a venue. Some venues, generally more historic ones, do not allow red wine, many venues only allow you to use their approved vendors and some venues double book and thus limit your time. Again, all of these restrictions are workable, but make sure you know about them in advance.