You want your wedding ceremony to be perfect, and the reception that follows to be fabulous, but how do you achieve that dream idea? A lot of it starts with your wedding location.

First, you will want to find venues that are suitable to your wedding theme, if you have one. Holding your reception at a seafood restaurant would be out of place for a Christmas or western themed wedding for obvious reasons. However, don't get stuck on this idea either. If your theme is "Rock and Roll" you can still have your ceremony in a quaint church and use subtle decorations to convey the theme. Here are a few tips to keep in mind as you scout around looking for that perfect location.

  • Start by taking a drive around the town jotting down ideas as you pass by possible venues.
  • Take your time when looking for a good location for the ceremony and/or reception. Don't rush in and book the first place you visit. Search out 2 or 3 different locations and then do a comparison of the sites (this applies to both the ceremony location and the reception location.) In some cases, you may not be able to book the date you've chosen to be married on and will need an alternative choice. It's always good to have options.
  • Take a checklist of questions that you want answered when you go so you can be sure you'll be able to find a place that will provide exactly what you want and need.
  • Ask family, friends, co-workers… even strangers on the bus, if they know of any good locations. You may be pleasantly surprised at some of the inspired answers you could receive of spots you would never have thought of.
  • Call and make appointments to tour your top three picks. Don't commit to anything during your first visit. Your first visit should be to get a good visual of the location, as well as have all of your questions answered regarding the venue.
  • Take notes wherever you go. Jot down impressions of when you first enter the area, note how you were treated - was the person helpful or did you have to stand around waiting to be noticed? That's a pretty good indication of how they'll handle the wedding services.
  • Make sure to look at available parking in the area, plus wheelchair access (if it might be needed) into the building. How large is the entrance and is there room out front for people to stand when the bridal party exits? Can a limousine or several cars park out front for the bridal party?
  • Bring an instant Polaroid or digital camera with you and take pictures of the outside of the building and surrounding area, including the parking lot and entrance. Take pictures of the inside as well, including the entrance hall, the altar area, pews, and rooms that can be used for getting ready just before the ceremony. These will help you to recall what each place looked like once you get home. When checking out several locations they can start to blur together. Also, you will notice things in the pictures that you may not have noticed on your visual tour.

The above tips should help to get you started in the right direction. Obviously, there is a lot more involved in choosing a special place to hold your wedding ceremony and reception than can be discussed in a short article. If you are looking for more advice on how to plan a great wedding, while keeping your expenses in check, you can find some great wedding planning e-books on the Internet that will guide you step-by-step through the whole process.