Most of the time when you hear "destination wedding venue," you probably envision an exotic location overseas, right?
White sandy beaches with clear blue water, maybe in Fiji or somewhere in the Bahamas? Or you might have pictured a moss-covered Irish castle surrounded by the country's lush green hills.
But the truth is that you don't need to travel far if you're from the U.S. Our country contains one of the most diverse terrains in the entire world, boasting everything from mountains (the Rockies and Ozarks, for example) to oceans to plains.
And don't think you have to hit Ireland to find a castle - we've got a few of those, too.
If you love the idea of a destination wedding but don't want to deal with the hassle of a passport, consider picking a U.S. destination wedding venue. We've put together a list of questions you should ask yourself to help you narrow down your choices!
What's Most Important to You about Your Wedding Location?
Every couple needs to ask themselves this question, but even more so when you're considering picking a destination wedding venue.
Why? Because there are a lot of factors that go into your venue choice, and these will affect how you and others remember your special day forever.
For example, do you want guests remembering a specific kind of scenery? Are you preferential to a particular part of America because it holds special meaning for your relationship? Have you always wanted to get married in a certain type of atmosphere (city vs. country, for example)?
Though you definitely want to ask yourselves more than just this question when picking your U.S.-based wedding venue, we think it's a valuable place to start. After all, if you just love the idea of getting married on the ocean or in a sprawling Cape Cod mansion, and it's been your dream for years, there's no point in wasting time looking at lakeside venues in Minnesota or ranches in Texas.
What Type of Wedding?
Many times the style or theme of your wedding will affect which U.S. destination wedding venue you choose.
As we already mentioned, if you've always dreamed about that breezy, carefree beach wedding, your choices are limited to states touching the Pacific or Atlantic, or you could consider a lakeside wedding in a place like Michigan, if you want. Or if you're looking for something a bit more regal, there are plenty of mansions and estates strewn about the country for you to pick from (and remember, the U.S. does have plenty of incredible castles to choose from).
And don't feel you have to be limited to a certain region of America just because you like that area's style. The South may be famous for its plantation homes and estates, for example, but you can often find similar venues in other parts of the country that may be more reasonable for your budget or tastes, like this plantation-style mansion in Texas.
What Time of Year?
Probably the next most important question to ask yourselves when choosing a U.S.-based destination wedding venue, decide early on what time of year you'd like to have your wedding take place.
This will affect a huge host of decisions to make about not only where to get married but what else you'll have to pay for at the location (more on this in a bit). For example, if you want to choose a beach destination wedding during the fall, you'll have some decent temperatures to work with in California on the Pacific, but you'll likely be far colder than you would likely prefer if you got married on the Atlantic.
Additionally, you'll want to consider how the time of year will affect the weather around your intended venue. Snow can make an Estes Park, Colorado destination wedding look spectacular, but then again you'll have to consider the fact that some guests may not be able to handle the icy conditions or even be able to come to your wedding because of the weather.
Lots of accommodations can be made for your U.S.-based destination wedding venue no matter the type of weather, but that brings us to the question of...
How Much Are You Willing to Spend?
Do you have a big enough budget set aside for what you're looking for?
It seems like an obvious question, but it's one of the most important factors when looking for a destination wedding venue in the U.S. Though destination weddings are not always as expensive as some might think, you still have to take all finances into consideration.
Many destination wedding venues have extra fees or services included you may not have thought about. The most typical "surprise" fees are things like:
-- licenses or permits, especially for venues like beaches or personal properties
-- amenities like bathrooms or shelter onsite
-- parking fees because of valet-only rules or you're in the middle of a city with parking garages
Some destination wedding venues come with these extras, and others don't. It's up to you to make sure you look into everything the venue will cost you and make an informed decision from there.
What Else Does the Location Have to Offer?
Every destination wedding venue has its cultural and local benefits and drawbacks, especially in such a diverse country as America.
If you're in a more remote area, for example, it may be harder for your guests to make it to the wedding, and at the very least they may get bored with the lack of things to do around town.
Make sure you ask yourself more detailed questions about the surrounding area of your intended venue, such as:
-- What airports are nearby? How far will guests have to travel?
-- What accommodations are nearby, and are they decent?
-- What are the cuisine and food options for guests?
-- What are some entertainment and activities they can do when they're not at the wedding?
All of these are typical questions you'll run across when planning any wedding, but they're especially important when you're planning a destination wedding. Frankly, you don't want to have your wedding be a flop because the location is severely lacking in quality.
You don't have to travel outside of the U.S. to find your destination wedding venue of your dreams. Our country has a lot to offer couples looking to make their nuptials the most meaningful experience possible.
What are some of the most important questions you are asking (or did ask) yourself about picking a U.S.-based destination wedding venue? Why did you choose an American location over all others?