Wedding 101: Selecting the Venue

Choosing the proper location for a wedding is one of the first and most difficult choices a couple makes in the planning process. It involves two levels of consideration.

At the first level: where, geographically, do the two of you want the wedding to occur? This involves considering the home-bases of your respective families, whether you want yourselves or your guests to travel, and whether you want to encourage attendance of a larger or smaller, more intimate, group.

At the second level: where, within that geographic space, do the two of you want the wedding to occur? Here, you must consider costs, timing, weather, space, aesthetics, travel, etc.

For Shaun and I, we largely agreed at both levels. Geographically, we knew Charlottesville was the perfect place. We met here and absolutely adore the city. It’s also about as equidistant as one could hope for between our respective families and friends. What better city to travel to than C-Ville, where you can make a whole vacation out of our event?

Within Charlottesville, we explored a ton of options before making our decision. Wineries made the list. Thank heaven we didn’t choose Kluge, I cringe at the thought of having to amend the invitations to say “please join us at the Donald Trump Winery.” Ultimately, we ruled out a winery wedding for a few reasons: (1) the price to book on a Saturday was too high; (2) the contracts were too restrictive (re: you had to use their caterers, cakes, wines, etc); (3) we thought we’d be kind to our guests since it will be a summer wedding and leave them out of direct sunlight. We checked out the country clubs: Boar’s Head and Farmington, Clifton Inn, etc. We also felt too restricted by their contracts/requirements, and thought our budget could be better spent in other ways.

No King for us (c)

When we found our venue, it was a no-brainer. One of our earlier dates as a couple was an A.A. Bondy/Elvis Perkins concert at The Southern on the Downtown Mall our 1L year. We’ve attended an endless number of shows since then. In Charlottesville particularly, the Jefferson Theater had always been a go-to concert venue for us [Dr. Dog – GREAT – Jenny and Johnny, Ingrid Michaelson, Peter Wolf Crier]. When we found out they host weddings, we were booked within the hour.

The Jeff is (1) one of the least expensive venues in town and well within our budget; (2) allowing us to stock our own bar; (3) hosting both the ceremony and the reception; (4) providing a day-of wedding coordinator [Collean rocks]; (5) providing a production manager; (6) allowing us full use of their lighting, stage, dressing rooms, signs outside; (7) PROVIDING CHAIRS [you will learn this is a huge expense]; and (8) keeping everyone indoors away from the summer heat. It’s a win for all.

It’s right on the Downtown Mall, allowing for great after-party potential [one already in the works!]. Plus, we get to showcase our love for music. And, did I mention it’s gorgeous? We went into the theater for the first time when it was empty last week. I was floored.

The takeaway? Don’t just pick a place because it’s iconic or beautiful. Your guests are going to enjoy whatever you choose. So find a place that you both agree on, that fits your budget, and highlights your personality as a couple. It makes the planning process so much more rewarding!


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Categories: Wedding


Courtney grew up in Reading, PA, and has lived in New York City (where she earned a bachelor's degree at NYU), Prague, Philadelphia, and Charlottesville (where she received a J.D. from UVa Law). Courtney and her new husband will settle in Philadelphia following a six-week Euro-trip extravaganza in September of 2012. Courtney's interests include music, writing, criticism, fitness, travel, cooking, and sports. Please enjoy the blog. LinkedIn: Tumblr:


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  1. Our Wedding 101 | Ryes and 'Shine - September 1, 2011

    […] Booked our Venue. […]

  2. Listen Well, Will You Marry Me? | Ryes and 'Shine - April 30, 2012

    […] Awesome for multiple reasons. First: dude, Coheed and Cambria played at my wedding venue. I’m getting married in there. Second: it’s exam time, so this was a perfectly welcome study break. Third: they rocked it. […]

  3. Wedding 101: My Final Thoughts | Ryes and 'Shine - October 2, 2012

    […] always on our Saturday-morning walk route, not by the random caterer provided by the venue. Or the venue itself: a music hall where we spent so many incredible Charlottesville nights. It was our way of not only […]

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