Before You Can Pick Your Wedding Venue, You Need to Do This
If you're ready to start wedding planning, you're probably wondering: What's the very first thing we need to do? Well, here it is: Before doing anything else, you need to decide on where you're getting married. No, we're not talking about choosing a wedding venue (that comes a bit later), but your wedding location—the general region, city or state where you'll wed. Not only will choosing your location help you choose a venue, it will have a major impact on your budget, wedding date, style and more. So should you get married in your hometown or where you currently live? What about a favorite travel destination or a place you've always wanted to visit? We're here to help you decide.
Different Types of Wedding Locations
According to old-school tradition, a wedding should take place in the bride's hometown. While this may seem like a dated rule, some couples actually prefer to get married in either partner's hometown, whether they currently live there or not, because it feels familiar and adds a sense of nostalgia to the big day. According to The Knot Real Wedding Study, 26% of couples married in either partner's hometown. And if both partners share a hometown, it may feel natural to host the wedding there. Also, if you want to host a larger wedding and many of your family members and friends still live in the area, you're more likely to yield more yes RSVPs with a hometown wedding—and folks won't have to worry about booking travel and accommodations, which is a major bonus!
Current City of Residence
If you and your partner no longer live in your hometown, but have chosen a new city where you reside, you might want to consider marrying in your current place of residence. In fact, according to our study, 56% of couples married where they currently live. Not only is this more convenient for your crew of friends who live nearby, marrying in your current location will also make your wedding planning experience a breeze. You can easily meet with your wedding planner on your lunch break, or a tour an event venue before work. Though certain loved ones may have to travel to your wedding, it's a nice way to show off your "new hometown" to your family members and friends. And you can get ready for the big day at home!
Do you and your partner have a favorite vacation spot that's a relatively short drive from your home? Many couples are opting for what we're calling "domestination weddings", which are weddings located within the U.S. and near a couple's current location of residence. In fact, according to our study, a majority of couples who hosted a domestic destination wedding could drive to its location—think a San Francisco couple marrying in Napa Valley. Going this route can be the best of both worlds—your wedding will feel like a location, but the location is convenient enough so most guests won't have to fly. This also makes the planning process easier—you can probably make easy trips to your wedding location to meet wedding vendors, handle last-minute details, and more.
If distance isn't an issue, then you might consider a destination wedding either in a faraway location in the U.S. or abroad. According to our study, 29% of couples who hosted a destination wedding had to fly to its location. Of course, choosing a far-off location for your destination wedding has its advantages (you obviously chose this location for a reason, whether it's the weather, the scenery or something else), but it's important to note that wedding planning from a distance will be a bit more challenging, and some guests may not be able to make the trip.
Factors to Consider When Choosing a Wedding Location
While the average cost of a wedding is around $30,000, it can vary greatly depending on your wedding location. Weddings in major coastal cities tend to cost more than those in more rural areas. For example, according to the 2021 Real Wedding Study, wedding in New York City costs $76,500 on average, while those in Iowa cost around $19,000. So before choosing your wedding location, be sure to research costs in that area. If you're on a strict budget, choosing the right location can make or break your wedding spend.
Do you feel comfortable traveling a long distance to your wedding? Are you okay if certain wedding guests can't attend your wedding day because of the travel? Will guests balk at paying for flights and accommodations? Destination weddings do require a bit more planning, but if you're okay with that, they can be totally worth it.
Is there a particular location that has special meaning to you and your partner? Our study showed that 55% of couples who hosted a destination wedding chose the location because it has special meaning. Whether that's a favorite vacation spot, the city where you attended college or the place where you first said "I love you", hosting your wedding in a place with personal significance can be extra special.
Consider your dream wedding venue. Are you set on hosting your big day at a winery/beach/farm but live in the middle of the city? Certain types of event venues are more plentiful in certain parts of the country, so be sure that your chosen event space is available in your wedding location. Be sure to check out The Knot Marketplace to start your research.
According to the Real Wedding Study, the average wedding has 105 guests. However, that number goes down for a domestic destination wedding (72) and even more so for an international destination wedding (54). If you want a larger wedding, a hometown wedding might be your best bet. Don't care about the guest count (or want something smaller)? A destination wedding may be right for you.
If an outdoor wedding ceremony is a must, you'll want to choose your location carefully. Certain areas are more prone to bad weather at certain times of year, so it's important to research the weather patterns and climate of any locations you're considering. And remember that no matter where you wed, good weather isn't a guarantee, so make sure your venue has an indoor or covered Plan B just in case.
From breathtaking views of the mountains or a sunset over the ocean, the right backdrop can turn a wedding location from nice to jaw-dropping. If scenery is important to you, make sure that's a consideration when choosing your wedding location.
Peak and Off-Peak Seasons
Some couples have a specific time of year in mind for their wedding. If you're already targeting a certain season or date, you might do some research into whether a particular wedding location is in their peak or off-peak travel season. Hosting a wedding during peak season might mean better weather, but also pricey flights, booked hotels and more traffic. Don't forget to research if any special events or other major happenings are occurring in your chosen wedding location—for example, the Kentucky Derby in Louisville. You'll want to steer clear of hosting your big day during these super-crowded weekends.