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How Do You Pick A Wedding Location (When You Have The Whole World)?

The world is our oyster...

It didn’t take becoming engaged to know that wedding planning was going to be a… process. After all, I’ve attended more than my fair share of weddings and have read one too many bridal magazines. I knew what I was signing up for, which is what largely influenced my decision to have a longer engagement. Even before my fiancé put a ring on it, I was crystal clear about my expectations: I wanted a two-year engagement so that we could have plenty of time to pick out flowers, invites, menus, music, and everything else that we wanted for our wedding day.

Of course, before any of those selections could be made, we had to figure out where our wedding will actually take place. Other decisions couldn’t really happen until we landed on a locale. And I’m pleased to announce that—nearly nine months into our engagement—we have picked… uh, well, about that.

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Starting at Home

We haven’t picked anything—or anywhere for that matter. I’ve spent the better part of a year weighing the pros and cons of multiple cities and locations only to arrive at the conclusion that oh my God, we have made literally zero progress with this whole wedding thing.

The challenge is two-fold. For starters, we have family and friends who live just about everywhere—from Arizona and Florida to New York and Mexico. A good central location where most of our loved ones are concentrated doesn’t exist for us. And while my fiancé and I are both from Nebraska, we quickly ruled that out as an option because tying the knot in our home state just doesn’t appeal to us. The venues and vendors are fairly limited, and what’s available doesn’t quite match up with our personality as a couple.

So I suppose it’s a little unfair to say that we’ve made zero progress. We have decided on what we don’t want. And that counts for something (at least that’s what I’m going to keep telling myself). Nebraska was off the table from the beginning. For a while, we considered our current place of residence, Washington, D.C. But after touring a few venues, we were generally underwhelmed by the options in our price range and felt that we could make our money go further elsewhere—possibly even abroad.

Wanderlust in Action

My fiancé and I love to travel, and seeing the world is important to the both of us. I am a chronic wanderluster, constantly dreaming up my next great escape. In less than three years, we’ve visited Tokyo, Paris, London, Venice, Madrid, Lisbon, among others. I’m beyond fortunate to be marrying a man who doesn’t take issue with hearing me say, “So I was looking at flights…” multiple times a week.

Taking our affinity for travel into consideration, it makes sense that our nuptials would take place in some exotic locale. The few people I’ve talked to about it often respond that a wedding abroad would be “so us.” We leaned heavily into the idea of a European wedding, with London, Paris, and Positano, Italy, rounding out our list of contenders. We did some preliminary research on the three potential destinations, scoping out venues online and contacting planners. All signs were pointing to Europe, until a trip to the West Coast got us thinking about keeping our wedding stateside.

Finding The Perfect Place

In April we were in Los Angeles for my fiancé’s work, and I had a good amount of free time. While driving back to the hotel from a local café, I stumbled upon a truly magical venue: Wayfarers Chapel in Rancho Palos Verdes. The whole experience was movielike. The chapel sits on a cliff overlooking the Pacific Ocean, but it’s totally hidden by giant trees so you can’t even see it from the highway. If I hadn’t looked up and noticed the roadside sign pointing toward the chapel, I would’ve missed it completely. What’s more, the chapel was designed by the son of Frank Lloyd Wright, who just so happens to be one of our favorite architects. (I mean, you can’t make this stuff up!)

When we toured the site ourselves, we definitely felt a connection. The modern architecture against the lush green space with the Pacific Ocean as a backdrop was truly breathtaking. Suddenly a Southern California wedding became a very real possibility.

Is There Always a Catch?

Then we discovered that, much like D.C., weddings in that part of the country aren’t just pricey—they’re you-better-be-sitting-down-when-you-hear-how-much-this-costs pricey. While we felt comfortable splurging on the chapel for our ceremony site because we were so in love with it, spending mega bucks on a reception venue was something we weren’t totally sold on. We ventured back to LA a month later to scope out some reception venue options and even found one that we really liked, but I didn’t feel the same connection I had with the chapel (especially for the price tag).

That meant it was back to the drawing board. Again. But after six months of feeling like our wedding could happen just about anywhere (and feeling really overwhelmed by that thought), we put a temporary hold on all things wedding related. I stepped away from the Pinterest boards and the endless emails to potential vendors. Instead, we made time to just enjoy being engaged. It’s a unique time in our relationship that we’ll never get to relive. So while we’ve spent most of the summer delaying a selection on our wedding destination, we weren’t completely indecisive: We’ve given ourselves a deadline of this September (aka this month!!) to pick a location. And then it’s one decision down, ten thousand more to go.

How did you make a decision on where to get married? Did you ever make a decision on where to get married? Will we ever get married if we have to pick a spot on the space-time continuum? Stay tuned for this and many more burning wedding planning questions.

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