Choosing a Wedding Venue

So – after all this searching – and searching – and searching some more – how does one actually choose their venue??

Trust your gut!!

Unfortunately, unless you have unlimited funds and time, it is going to be nearly impossible to get your number one venue, on your number one date, for your desired price.  But – as I have mentioned so many times before – compromise is key!

The goal is to find a venue that will make you happy enough, without completely breaking your bank. If you fall in love with a venue that is out of your budget, consider asking about possibly booking a Friday or Sunday instead of Saturday! Some venues even offer weekday events which can save you quite a bit! Obviously, if you will have a lot of out of town guiests attending, this might not be possible. But it is all good to consider and be aware of.

Cutting guest count is also a great way to save money – or consider having an open bar for only part of the event! For information on how to cut costs for your big day – see my next post “Best Ways to Cut Cost.”

My Search…

As I mentioned in my previous post, Venues, Venues, and More Venues, I researched A LOT of different venues for my wedding. However, when it came down to it – I only chose to visit a small percentage. I chose to visit the following locations based on one of a few factors:

  • I loved the online photos/website
  • Curiosity – a friend or friend of friend had gotten married there, thought I should see it for myself
  • My mom forced me to – mom always knows best!
  • Pricing seemed reasonable

The Venues

Crane Estate – Ipswich, MA

Source: The Trustees of Reservations

What I liked:

Beautiful old estate! Many options for different venue locations – The Great House, The Barn, Steep Hill Beach, etc.

Everywhere you look there is something more beautiful!

Tent has clear siding in case of inclement weather.

Nice bridal suite upstairs! Gorgeous staircase for bride to walk down in pictures.

What I didn’t like:

Cannot use all rooms in the Great House, after all it is a museum of sorts.

Did not like the old-fashioned portrait artwork and sculptures throughout the house. Slightly more “grandeur” than is my style!

Tent does not have flooring – therefore if it were to rain before event, we worried the grass could become wet or muddy.

Separate room for dancing apart from eating area under tent – some might find this to be a pro! But for me, I worried guests would become separated by area.

No groom suite for before wedding.

The Barn at Gibbet Hill

Source: Barn at Gibbet Hill

Source: Barn at Gibbet Hill

What I liked:

Gorgeous barn!! Rustic, yet elegant and very well kept!

Great porch for cocktail hour – can be fully enclosed in case of inclement weather.

Multiple outdoor ceremony options available – on lawn or on “Top of the Hill.”

Chivari chairs, standard.

Lighting throughout the barn, standard.

What I didn’t like:

“Top of the Hill” ceremony, which I really loved and would not want to go without, is an additional $7k-$11k – this brought our event estimate over budget!

With so many guests coming from out of town (flying into Logan airport) and the North Shore (where my parents live) – we were worried about driving distance. It would be at least an hour drive for these people to get to the venue and force them to either stay in the area or possibly leave early to get home!

Renaissance Golf Club – Haverhill, MA

Source: Here Comes the Guide

Source: Renaissance Golf Club

What I liked:

Reasonable pricing – can get quite the “bang for your buck!”

GORGEOUS grounds! Property and club are very well maintained!

Chivari chairs, standard.

Beautiful porch overlooking golf course.

Small number of very nice guest rooms available upstairs for getting ready or staying the night!

What I didn’t like:

Cocktail hour is partially inside and partially outside – separated between a few different entry rooms and the front outdoor entryway. The outdoor entryway, although nice, somewhat overlooks the parking lot which I did not like. I was also concerned that the different spaces would cause guests to become separated, and therefore the party disjointed.

The venue is first and foremost a golf club! This means that it is only a wedding venue on the side. Although this might not bother some people, I did not love the idea that other parts of my space could possibly have other events occurring. Some might find this silly – but I just felt that I wanted a venue which specialized in weddings/other events – rather than as an extra way to make money.

For any guests that wanted to stay in Boston, it would be at least a 40 minute drive/shuttle ride.

New England Aquarium – Boston, MA

 What I liked:

AMAZING views of the water – creating a fabulous outdoor ceremony option.

Right next door to Marriott Long Wharf and other hotels – making it very easy for guests to get back to their hotel rooms. We most likely would not need to hire a shuttle.

Unlimited restaurants, bars, and site-seeing in the area for guests staying the weekend!

Black chivari chairs, standard.

What I didn’t like:

Tent is built on a metal frame. Not nearly as beautiful as a Sperry or sail cloth tent in my personal opinion.

Parking could be more expensive for any guests hoping to drive.

Marriott Long Wharf – Boston, MA

Source: Boston Magazine

Source: Boston Discovery Guide

What I liked:

Guests can stay right there in the hotel – making it incredibly easy for when they want to “call it a night!” We most likely would not need to hire a shuttle.

One of the best indoor ceremony options.

Beautiful water views!

Unlimited restaurants, bars, and site-seeing in the area for guests staying the weekend!

What I didn’t like:

No outdoor ceremony option.

Rather generic reception space – as with most hotels, the reception space is multi-purpose and therefore less unique than I was hoping for. However, the rug and space was a lot better than most other hotels in the area!

Parking could be more expensive for any guests hoping to drive.

The Villa at Ridder Country Club – East Bridgewater, MA

Source: Saphire Estate

Source: MA Wedding Guide

What I liked:

Very reasonable pricing!!

Three different venue options: Madeira Ballroom, the Grand Ballroom, and the Outdoor Tent – all three options have separate ceremony, cocktail hour, and reception areas.

Beautiful outdoor ceremony space for Madeira ballroom currently being built! A small garden oasis.

Delicious chocolate chip cookies and lemonade offered when having a tour!

Wedding planners are willing to include incentives for booking the venue! Such as extra dessert or late night snack option!

What I didn’t like:

Cannot mix and match ceremony, cocktail and reception space options. For example, if you like the ceremony space for Madeira Ballroom, but the Grand Ballroom reception space – you cannot have both. Must choose one or the other.

Three weddings could occur simultaneously on any given night. The club does a great job of trying to separate the spaces, but all three weddings could still occur at once.

The outdoor ceremony space for the Grand Ballroom is situated right next to the tent – it is actually the same ceremony space used for the tent – this means your guests will be walking past another reception area being used for someone else.

Tupper Manor – Wylie Inn and Conference Center – Beverly, MA

What I liked:

Bridal and groom suite! Well more like a “groom room” – but it has a pool table which is awesome!

Beautiful grounds and fountain out front for outdoor ceremony and photos!!

Gorgeous estate house!! Very well kept.

What I didn’t like:

Chivari chairs, not included.

Also used as conference center.

Room for dancing is separated from room for dining – could lead to separation of guests.

Rather expensive for what you are getting. I preferred other venues that were similar but less expensive.

Oceanview of Nahant – Nahant, MA

Source: Oceanview of Nahant

Source: Wedding Wire

What I liked:

INCREDIBLE views of the ocean!! Literally cannot be beat!!

Just renovated with unique “beachy” decor throughout the venue.

Two beautiful outdoor ceremony options, either overlooking the ocean or in front of a local gazebo. Possibly a new ceremony location to be built for Fall 2015/Spring 2016.

Huge bridal suite!

Chivari chairs, standard.

Wedding cake included for total number of guests.

Option for firepit and s’more grand finale! YUM!

Outdoor “Last Dance” dance floor on beach!

Super chic and trendy bar area with great deck overlooking the water. Great decor and signs available for free to be used by couple or during event.

Discounted photobooth and uplighting options available.

What I didn’t like:

Bridal suite only available for one hour prior to ceremony. No groom suite.

Outside of building is not nearly as beautiful as inside.

Reception area is has low, panelled ceiling. Much more generic looking than the rest of the venue.

Indoor/back-up ceremony option is in reception area which is not nearly as beautiful as outdoor ceremony options.

Moraine Farm – Beverly, MA

Source: Here Comes the Guide

Source: Wedding Wire

What I liked:

BEAUTIFUL garden and grounds!! Great for pictures.

Unlimited ceremony options overlooking a small lake behind the estate. No boating allowed on lake, so view will always be picturesque!

Cocktail hour overlooks lake as well – very beautiful.

Sperry tent with bistro lights included!

Hardwood floor in tent – great for pictures and dancing!

Tent has clear-siding in case of inclement weather – space can be fully enclosed.

Lanterns used to light pathway between estate house and tent – all-included!

Bridal and groom suite, included!

What I didn’t like:

Estate house can be used for conferences and other project adventure events. Appears somewhat worn on the inside, not nearly as manicured as some other estate houses.

Chivari chairs, not included.

In case of inclement weather, cocktail hour must take place inside estate house. Not really ideal considering its not nearly as beautiful inside as it is outside. If over a certain number of guests are being invited to event, might be necessary to rent additional tent coverage for outdoor area/cocktail hour space.

Tent looks somewhat worn and not as well maintained as other tents.

No coverage between estate house and tent – in the case of inclement weather, guests will have to walk uncovered from one to the other.

Bridal and groom suite rather small – especially groom suite (pretty much just a small extra room).


Willowdale Estate – Topsfield, MA

Source: Willowale Estate

Source: Willowdale Estate

What I liked:

STUNNING estate house and surrounding grounds!! Literally every little detail is thought of!! Nothing is out of place!!

Gorgeous Sperry tent – in perfect condition!! Clear siding and with built-in floor – great for dancing!

Lanterns and outer lights, included. Heating and cooling of tent also included, if needed.

Food is fantastic (tasted some at a vendor event for the public – absolutely delicious).

Signature chocolate chip cookies included in package!

Many different bar options – whether you want full open bar or a cash bar, they have got you covered. There are also three different levels of bar, so if you prefer premium liquors or call brands, you are also covered! Drinks not served at regular tables like at some venues – Quality bars used to serve drinks.

Cocktail hour spread throughout the estate, which is just beautiful! Non-alcoholic, seasonal drink included and served to guests upon arrival.

Bridal, groom and family suite included upstairs for use before and during the event!

What I didn’t like:

Chivari chairs, not included. (Additional cost of $5 per chair, which is actually less expensive than many other venues).

Bistro lights, not included. (This was sad to learn – but I decided that the venue is beautiful enough without any extra lights, and if the budget permitted we could have the option to include them!).

Distance to Boston – minimum 40 minute drive. (After much research, I came to realize this was more often the case than not – fortunately Salem, Newburyport, and Beverly are all relatively close by with hotels, restaurants, bars, and sightseeing available for guests to stay and explore).

Can become very expensive quickly as the guest minimum for a Saturday is 175. (We were able to cut some cost by choosing the Sunday of a holiday weekend! This way the minimum guest count was only 150).

Similar Posts