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Finding the Perfect Ceremony Location
by Carolyn Burke, Wedding Liaison

 To ensure that you will have the ceremony that you have always dreamed of, you will want to plan carefully. You will want to decide exactly what type of ceremony you want. You may want the ceremony to be laced with tradition; to be filled with the personal touches that show the qualities and individualities of the two of you.

Your selection of a ceremony site will be influenced by the formality of your wedding, the season of the year, the number of guests expected and your religious affiliation. The ceremony location is the place where you make those lifelong promises and commitments. The memories forever etched of that one spot, wearing the most beautiful dress, with your friends and family fondly observing. Begin your search for a ceremony site as soon as you have selected the date for your wedding.

The following are just a few options on the types of ceremony locations: Church, cathedral, chapel, temple, synagogue, a private home, garden, courthouse, hotel, country club, hall, park, museum, yacht, winery, a field, the beach, casino, hot air balloon, art gallery, bed and breakfast, college/university chapel, ANYWHERE! The ceremony site usually charges a fee to rent the facility.

In a place of worship, this fee may include the use of the sanctuary, wedding coordinator, organist, custodian, changing room for the bridal party, and miscellaneous items such as kneeling cushions, aisle runner, unity candle, sound system and candelabra. There may be restrictions on placement of floral arrangements, secular or sacred music selections as well as time of ceremony. Make sure you ask about restrictions or guidelines regarding photography, videography, decorations, candles, rice, bird-seed or rose petal-tossing. Be sure to ask for specific rules and regulations and what the site fee includes prior to booking a facility.

While having a ceremony outdoors is a wonderful way for you to showcase your event, there are some special considerations that are important to plan for. First, make sure your officiant is willing to perform the ceremony at your chosen location--some members of the clergy will only perform wedding ceremonies within a house of worship. Be sure to find out whether there are any user restrictions, permits, or conflicting activities and events with your chosen date and time. Other logistics to consider include whether or not there is ample accessibility, electricity, parking, as well as restrooms on site. Remember to select a quiet spot that is away from the traffic. Nearly everything must be brought in such as chairs for your guests and a sound system. You are encouraged to have an alternate ceremony site in case of inclement weather.

A wedding at home gives you the opportunity to recite your vows in a place that is near and dear to your heart. Though it will require that you have enough room to accommodate your guest list, a home wedding will definitely have a personal touch that no other location offers.  It is indeed entertaining on a grand scale and the preparation may be more than you anticipate. Organization and delegation of responsibilities are essential. You can probably rent everything you need through a rental agency.

When renting a ceremony location, make sure the contract specifies all aspects of renting or using the location: arrival times, departure times, equipment that can be used, clean-up responsibilities, parking facility use, etc.

Remember the marriage license ! Donít forget to bring the marriage-license packet to the wedding! Assign this task to a trusted friend or family member. A ceremony is not legal and complete without this.


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*Please note that New Jersey no longer has a "Justice of the Peace" position.  The position was eliminated many years ago.

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