Expert Advice · Uncategorized

Where Should You Say “I Do”?

A primary concern with wedding planning is picking the appropriate venue for your ceremony and reception. Every location has its pros and cons, but with some research it is possible to find the perfect place for every wedding regardless of size, style, and budget!

When considering a venue, there are several factors to keep in mind:

Size- it is imperative that the space you pick can fit everyone who will be attending. If you are hunting for a reception location, remember that an empty room can look plenty big enough but tables, a DJ booth, cake table, gift table, a dance floor and wiggle room for the guests eats up a lot of room very quickly. Depending on the location, there may be a minimum or maximum number of guests permitted in a space. Smaller locations such as restaurants can have a maximum of 50-100, but large venues such as a hotel or resort may have a minimum of 100 guests to ensure they make a profit.

Cost- budgeting is essential when choosing a venue. We advise that no more than 40% of the wedding budget be spent on the venue AND catering. Some locations such as restaurants, hotels, and some outdoor venues come with onsite catering that can be included in the cost of rental. A price may seem outrageous until you realize it includes use of the space, food and beverages, and a catering staff. At other locations, the price of rental just allows you to use the space for a certain block of time on the day you chose. Generally, larger venues are more expensive, so limiting the guest list can be a difficult, but very effective way to keep costs down.

View/Style- if your wedding has a certain “feel” or theme, make sure your venue caters to that look. Venues on the beach may conflict with a rustic theme. If you want an elegant, glamorous feel, try a country club rather than a ranch.

Acoustics/Outlets/Lighting- make sure the reception area will be a space where the DJ, photographer, and caterers will be able to work. This can be particularly tricky for outdoor locations due to a lack of outlets. A DJ will need to plug in speakers, and a photographer may need to provide additional lighting for pictures, so make sure the place you choose has a way to get power to your reception/ceremony. If the caterers are cooking onsite, ensure that the equipment they need is either provided or there is a power source nearby so the food will be nice and hot.

Parking/Privacy- keep the needs of guests in mind when choosing a location. If you will have guests with disabilities, make sure they will be able to access the reception and ceremony locations. Some locations can accommodate many guests but have limited parking, in that case, consider bussing guests in. Another aspect of a venue to keep in mind is privacy. Beach weddings can be lovely, but depending on the specific location, members of the public may be able to view the ceremony and reception. Inside venues such as hotels are typically best if you want a private intimate ceremony or reception, but depending on your comfort level this may not be an issue.

Some of the most popular types of venues are restaurants, hotels, private residences, out of town destinations, event sites and outdoor spaces.

Restaurants- perfect for any foodie!

Pros: the food is guaranteed to be great, and often there is more wiggle room in the menu than with a caterer if guests have unique dietary needs. Also, they have experienced staff trained to make all occasions special.

Cons: size can often limit the number of guests, and different restaurants vary on the amount of décor that can be modified or moved. Depending on the restaurant, there may be a “buy out” cost to cover the money the establishment could’ve made if it was open to the public.

Hotels- great for a couple who have guests coming from out of town

Pros: your guests don’t have to worry about transportation! Often hotels offer great discounts for booking a block of rooms, using event space, and catering.

Cons: some hotels only contract with certain venues for events, so you may be stuck picking from their list. Also, read the contact very carefully so you don’t get charged for services that aren’t included in a wedding package.

Private Residences- personal and familiar

Pros: getting married at a family member or friends home can be very sentimental, and bring the homeowner and couple even closer. Typically you will not have to worry about getting the date you want, being charged for using the space, or decorating how you want.

Cons: Homes cannot always accommodate large weddings, so the guest list may have to be limited. It can be very expensive to rent tables, chairs, flatware, and decorations in addition to bringing in outside catering.

Destination Weddings- get away for the big day

Pros: the high price of travel can ensure an intimate wedding size, and the location will undoubtedly be beautiful

Cons: the high price of travel could prevent friends or family from attending. Coordinating catering, rentals, and hotel rooms for yourself and guests from another state or country can be a hassle especially if there is a time difference.

Outdoors- fresh and beautiful

Pros: fewer things are more gorgeous than getting married in the warm sunshine or at sunset. Most outdoor venues can accommodate large parties, and will have fewer restrictions on noise.

Cons: No matter the time of year, there is always a chance the weather will not cooperate. Have a backup plan in the event of rain, or other weather events that would prohibit the ceremony or reception from being held.

Event Sites- experienced staff and lovely location

Pros: many event venues come with onsite staff, that help with set up and clean up, and if they don’t have onsite catering, have a preferred vendors list to help with one of the many decisions to make when planning a wedding. Many event sites can accommodate parties of nearly any size, and many have lower rental costs than other locations because they keep some equipment at the venue.

Cons: popular venues can have long waiting lists, making it difficult to secure the date you want. Some locations are so big there are multiple events going on at once, which limits privacy, and can confuse guests.

San Diego is the perfect city to get married in. From the hundreds of beautiful ocean views, to rustic ranches, it has the right location for any couple. Here are some of the more unique locations to say your vows and then celebrate the night away in America’s Finest City.

USS Midway- historic and scenic! The USS Midway has been harbored in San Diego since she was decommissioned in 1992 after nearly 50 years of service. Located in the marina near the heart of downtown, this venue gives you an ocean view, without the sand on your feet. The Midway offers large indoor and outdoor event spaces, a trained events staff, and contracts with some of the best caterers in San Diego. Ceremonies and receptions can be held on the ship, making it perfect for any civilian or Navy couple.


*image from

Petco Park- this location would be perfect for any San Diego locals with a love for baseball. Petco hosts private events for 100-2500 guests, and comes with an event staff, and if preferred, onsite catering. Both ceremonies and receptions can be held here, and if you don’t want to get married on the dirt at home plate, Petco offers several other event spaces that will make your big day a homerun!


*image from

San Diego Zoo/Safari Park- one of San Diego’s greatest attractions provides an exotic location close to home. Rehearsal dinners, ceremonies and receptions can be held at both the Zoo and the Safari Park, and each have different venues depending on preference and wedding size. If you don’t mind a few wild guests, this is the venue for you.


*image from

San Diego Botanic Garden- take advantage of San Diego’s beautiful climate and 220 days of sunshine by getting married surrounded by the best of nature in the Botanic Garden. Fortunately for your guests, parking and entry fee into the gardens is included. The Botanic Garden offers four ceremony and reception locations, and can hold events Thursday-Sunday.


Mission San Diego de Alcala- if you want to get married surrounded by San Diego history, there isn’t a place much more significant than the Mission. This first California mission founded in 1769 has traditional Spanish architecture, and a fully trained clergy to perform the sacraments. The mission is a fully functional church and therefore is only available for ceremonies, but its central San Diego location puts it not too far from any reception location.


*image from

Del Mar Turf Club- while events are only held here from mid-September through Memorial Day, the Del Mar Turf Club and Fairgrounds have a venue space for everyone. You can choose from a restaurant setting to a space with an ocean view, and with 7 locations to choose from which can hold anywhere from 80 to 1,000 people, you can find a space perfect for your wedding. This is a full-service facility with catering, A/V production, some rentals and telecommunications to some of the planning is done for you!


*image from

We hope these tips on venues have eased the selection process, for any other wedding planning help please head to!


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s