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Wedding Ceremony: How Do I Choose A Venue?

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Wondering how to choose the right venue for your wedding? Here's what you need to know, from etiquette and planning expert Kate Chynoweth, author of "The Bridesmaid Guide: Modern Advice on Etiquette, Parties, and Being Fabulous." Have questions? Ask in the comments.

Choosing a wedding site is about more than finding a spot with charm; it's about meeting all the needs you have as a bride. Unfortunately, juggling those needs -- which probably include your own religious considerations and those of others, your aesthetic preferences, and practical factors such as the bottom line number on your guest list -- can quickly start to feel like a less-than-amusing circus act. To complicate things further, often everyone from your fiancé to your family has a strong opinion about what is most suitable.

Fortunately, the choice of venues these days is incredibly diverse. Couple can decide to pledge their vows at a rustic winery, a beachside retreat, or an ornate cathedral. Start your decision-making process by putting ideas on paper. Write down your dream locations and then make a practical list of the benefits and drawbacks each provides. Do you want a wedding with a dose of tradition? Many quaint country chapels are non-denominational and welcome couples of any religious faith -- yet they may be too small for a large guest list. Is being outdoors important? Locations like wineries that are frequently used as wedding venues are beautiful and practical but often booked long in advance.

As your ideas come together, remember to be realistic about your own organizational skills. You might find a pristine beach that seems ideal for a wedding, but managing details like how the reception tent will be delivered or where guests will park can create a lot of stress. Above all, remember that while finding the right venue is partly about pleasing everyone else, it’s also about making good on your own hopes and dreams for your wedding. When striking a balance between your vision and the practical considerations feels like a challenge, just remember -- your reward will come in the form of beautiful memories that you’ll always keep.

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