You’re engaged! Now what? We recommend starting with your venue, and here’s why! In some cities, venues start to fill their books up to a year or more in advance. Many couples even have to re-think their desired wedding date to get the venue they’re wanting. So, in order to help make your venue search process as easy as possible, we’ve put together an ultimate guide with answers from how to find venues in your desired area, what questions to ask, and even what to wear to the tour!
Where do I even begin? Start with the vision for your day. Do you want an industrial feel? Lots of greenery? Outdoors or indoors? How many guests are you inviting? By mapping out the overall venue of your day, you will have a better idea for where to start with your venue planning.
How do I find a wedding venue in my area or destination? A Google search never hurt! We also encourage you to think outside the box. Having an intimate wedding? Maybe an Airbnb or rental warehouse will suffice? Instagram can also be a powerful search tool — simply type in the hashtags box (example: #AustinWeddingVenue).
How many wedding venues should I tour before selecting THE ONE? We’re firm believers in trusting your intuition — just like you did when you found your person! If a venue checks all the important boxes and gives you those warm, fuzzy feels, it’s probably the one for you.
Airbnb — If you’re having an intimate wedding, an Airbnb can be a unique, fun venue idea that also allows some guests to stay on property with you! Do make sure that the host is aware of your intentions for their property — some home owners would prefer their space not be used for events, and we get that. We also recommend considering an Airbnb for your “getting ready space” even if you do choose a more traditional venue.
State Park — For the adventurous! Want that outdoorsy vibe but not sure how to get it? Consider a State Park. There’s quite a few who have affordable rental policies for weddings and events. Reminder: Please respect your local state parks and wildlife.
Backyard — Sometimes the most underestimated of all the venue ideas. We love a good backyard wedding! The pro here is that there are likely no venue fees to using a friend or family member’s backyard, so you have more funds to go big on rentals and decor.
Restaurant — Another idea for those of you planning a more intimate affair: Your favorite restaurant. If the most important thing to you is gathering with your loved ones for a meal and good conversation, a restaurant may be the venue for you! Check with your favorite spots around town to see if they have a back room you can rent out — bonus if there’s pretty a patio for the reception!
When it comes to wedding planning, every event can be an occasion to dress up! Plus, if you end up finding your dream venue you might want to snap a photo with your boo. Wondering what to wear to your wedding venue tour? Aside from the fun outfit ideas below, we also suggest bringing a pair of shoes similar to what you’ll be wearing on the day-of to make sure you can easily walk around the venue in them.
Here at Allegro, we love a good cocktail. The amount of speakeasies and craft-cocktail bars popping up all over the country make it a great time for cocktail aficionados to be alive. However, most of the time, those intricate, 10-ingredient, obscurely worded cocktails aren’t always an option at places where we drink the most. Here is 7 of our picks of the best common wedding cocktails.
Take, for example, a wedding. The basic wedding bar generally doesn’t have much, but will usually have at least one bottle of the following: whiskey, scotch, gin, vodka, tequila, and vermouth.For mixers, you can expect soda, tonic, and seltzer. There are actually a handful of great cocktails that can be made from basic, minimal ingredients. Here are some of the best classic cocktails to drink at a basic wedding bar.
GIN MARTINI – GIN, DRY VERMOUTH, OLIVES/LEMON (OPTIONAL GARNISH)
The OG classic cocktail, this one is made with two simple ingredients: gin and vermouth. The cocktail’s popularity skyrocketed during Prohibition, thanks to the easy crafting of illegal gin. The cocktail still remains a staple at nearly every alcohol-serving establishment in the present day.
WHISKEY GINGER – WHISKEY, GINGER ALE
Always a safe choice, because really, even the most inexperienced of bartenders would have a hard time messing this one up.
KALIMOTXO – RED WINE, COLA
Not a super popular order, but definitely possible to make at any wedding. Do as the Spanish do and throw some cola into the sub-par red wine hiding on the back of that bar shelf. Instant upgrade!
GIN AND TONIC – GIN, TONIC
A staple at any wedding. Tart, refreshing, and super simple. As with Whiskey Gingers, even the newest of bartenders would have a hard time screwing this one up.
OLD FASHIONED – WHISKEY, SUGAR, BITTERS, CHERRY (OPTIONAL GARNISH)
No sugar behind the bar? No problem! There’s bound to be coffee served with cake, meaning that those little sugar caddies are hiding somewhere in the venue. Snag a few packets and you’re all set with this classic cocktail choice.
You can’t go wrong with a Manhattan, right? Start your night with a few of these and you’re sure to have a solid evening.
LONG ISLAND ICED TEA – RUM, VODKA, GIN, TEQUILA, LEMON, COLA
O.K., sure, the bar may not have Triple Sec, but will you really notice its absence among the plethora of well liquors and cola meshed together in the glass? We didn’t think so. Revert back to your early college years for the evening and throw back a few of these train wrecks. We recommend holding yourself to a two-drink max limit with this particular option, obscurely worded cocktails aren’t always an option at places where we drink the most. Thats what makes these the best common wedding cocktails.
12+ Months – Choose date (or a couple so you can be flexable) – Determine your budget – Decide your wedding style – Choose your wedding party and propose to them – Start compiling a guest list to get an approximate guest count – Setup a wedding email address to direct all wedding related offers, plans and accounts to one location – Visit ceremony and reception venues – Start researching wedding pros – Hire wedding planner – Get your ring insured – Get engagement photos taken
10-11 Months – Reserve your ceremony and reception venues – Order your save the dates – Book officiant – Purchase wedding dress, veil and undergarments
8-9 Months – Hire photographer, videographer, caterer, DJ/band, and florist – Create your gift registries – Choose bridal party attire and accessories – Begin planning honeymoon – Refine guest list – Start shopping for wedding invitations – Block hotel rooms for out of town guests – Mail save the dates
6-7 Months – Gather ideas for wedding day hair and makeup styles – Meet with officiant to discuss ceremony plans – Reserve rentals such as chairs, linens, lighting, decor, etc – Schedule cake tasting and choose stlye – Hire ceremony musicians – Book transportation to and from venues – Purchase wedding bands – Order wedding invitations
4-5 Months – Choose flowers for wedding party and centerpieces – Schedule dress fittings – Book honeymoon flights and hotels – Book room for wedding night – Order wedding cake – Plan welcome baskets for out of town guest – Prepare play/ do not play list for DJ/ band – Finalize reception menu – Assemble rehearsal dinner guest list – Book rehearsal dinner venue
3 Months – Finalize honeymoon plans and make sure all documents are in order – Get trial make up and hair style with veil – Finalize readers and readings – Purchase all the accessories like toasting glasses, serving piecies, guestbook, flower basket and ring bearer pillow – Finalize reception menu – Order wedding favors
2 Months – Mail wedding invitations 6-8 weeks prior to wedding. RSVP’s should be due 4 weeks prior to wedding – Write wedding vows – Finalize ceremony with officiant – Order menus, wedding programs and any other day of stationery – Finalize playlist with musicians – Finalize fittings for wedding party and parents – Book spa treatments for you and bridal party – Create wedding day timeline and send to your vendors, officiant, and wedding party – Write out honeymoon itinerary for family and home – Decide on ” Something Old, Borrowed, and Blue” – Purchase girls for wedding party
1 Month – Call vendors to confirm date, time and location – Give photography/ videographer image and video requests – Confirm honeymoon reervations – Pick up wedding rings – Pick up marriage license – Final dress fitting with shoes and undergarments – Write thank you notes for gifts received – Follow up with guest who have no RSVP’d – Break in wedding shoes
2 Weeks – Give final count to caterer – Create seating chart and order escort/ placecards – Update registries – Get final haircut and color – Delegate wedding day duties like gift table, guestbook, etc
1 week – Make final payments and prepare envelopes for cash tips for vendors – Get spa/ beauty treatments for you and the bridal party – Give marriage license to officiant – Lay out wedding clothes – Pack for wedding night/ honeymoon – Deliever welcome baskets
Photo credit: Eamon Ward & The Outing LGBT Music & Matchmaking Lisdoonvarna Ireland
Every autumn, hordes of singles flock to a tiny Irish town in search of love.
Matchmaking is one of Ireland’s oldest traditions, and for the last 150 years, it has taken place in Lisdoonvarna, a West Coast village near the iconic Cliffs of Moher. For the month of September, this tiny spa town of 800 residents hosts the popular Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival – a month-long celebration bringing together hopeful romantics from around the world.
The festival is notorious for its lively all-day, all-night dancing and impromptu marriage proposals (often triggered after a few pints at the pub). It’s evolved into Europe’s largest singles’ event, drawing up to 60,000 unattached persons from near and far looking for a mate.
“Everyone deserves to find love,” says Willie Daly, one of Ireland’s last traditional matchmakers.
A third-generation matchmaker, Daly is best known for presiding over the festival. During the festivities, he holds appointments in his “office” (aka The Matchmaker Bar), recording details of those seeking partners in his tattered book, which overflows with love-seeking profiles.
Matchmaking in Lisdoonvarna dates back generations and flourished with the rise of spa tourism in the 1800s. As the story goes, the town’s rich mineral springs brought visitors from all over Ireland who wanted to “take to the waters.” It also attracted bachelor farmers in search of wives and spa-cationing gentry who wanted to arrange appropriate marriages for their sons and daughters. Back in the day, singletons couldn’t just turn to dating websites or Tinder for help. So instead, they consulted Lisdoonvarna’s respected “basadoiri” – love-savvy locals who had the 411 on eligible men and women around the country.
Today, this tradition continues with the Lisdoonvarna Matchmaking Festival, but it’s evolving with the times, especially with Ireland legalizing same-sex marriage in 2015. Most recently, a gay, bisexual and transgender weekend, called “The Outing,” has been added to the program – the world’s first-ever LGBT matchmaking festival.
“Since the referendum, Ireland has shown the world that its doors are open to the LGBT market,” says Eddie McGuinness, Director of The Outing Festival. “More and more people from the gay, lesbian, bi and trans community come to Ireland not only to visit, but to find love and even marry here.”
Photo credit: Eamon Ward & The Outing LGBT Music & Matchmaking Lisdoonvarna Ireland
The weekend is not just about the quest for love either – it’s about celebrating fun and friendship, regardless of your relationship status. Entering the Hydro Hotel, the epi-centre for the festivities, I’m greeted by a stream of rainbow flags and colourful decorations, as well as giant bulletin boards jam-packed with endless events. Scanning the program, the first evening brings a slew of film screenings, art shows, dance parties, and non-stop performances by drag artists, ceilí bands, international DJs, and live musicians. Some people are gearing up for the speed dating session or “Blind Date” games, while others chatter excitedly about grand plans to go surfing or take a “Love Boat” cruise to see the stunning Cliffs of Moher. It’s hard to know where to start.
For this overwhelmed writer, I join the traditional céilí, a fun-filled hour of dancing to live Irish folk music. The dance floor is flooded with spirited party-goers, step-dancing and twirling their dance partners, some decked out in sparkly bling. One tall, graceful gentleman sports a pair of red hot pumps, and gracefully keeps up with the caller’s rapid-fire instructions. Other onlookers can’t bear to abandon their foamy pints, preferring instead to clap and cheer from the bar. It is, indeed, a “good craic” – one that stretches into the wee hours of the morning.
The next day, we drag our weary butts out of bed and traipse into town for a lookie-loo. The first stop is theRoadside Tavern for a bite and beer tasting, teeming with fatigued festival-goers. Here on the second floor of the pub, Brewmaster Peter Curtin makes a handful of malty ales – none of which are bottled.
“You can’t get these brews anywhere else but here,” Curtin says. “It’s difficult enough to keep up with the local demand.”
To fill our bellies with more than beer, we order a tasting board of hot and cold smoked salmon, fresh from Ireland’s west coast and marinated with flavours like whiskey and fennel, or mustard seed and paprika. We’re munching away, when one patron steals the piano and starts playing show tunes. Within minutes, a sing-along erupts in the pub.
A pint or two later, my sweet tooth is acting up, so I mosey over to Hazel Mountain Chocolates, a bean to bar artisanal chocolate factory located in the foothills of the Burren. Nestled amongst craggy hills and emerald green fields, the scenery here is sublime – but the heavenly aroma of roasted beans and sweet chocolate equally entices visitors.
“I just bought 80 Euros of chocolate,” says one shopper, savouring a truffle. “And I regret nothing.”
I pop a sample into my mouth and taste the velvety dark chocolate melt on my tongue – pure bliss. Surrounded by trays of handmade truffles and bars flavoured with fixings like elderberry, hazelnuts, green gooseberry and smoked salt, I’m already pulling out my wallet.
It’s comforting to know that even if you can’t find love in Lisdoonvarna, there’s always chocolate and a “good craic.”
Lisdoonvarna is a small village on the West Coast of Ireland, about 10 minute drive from the famous Wild Atlantic Way. It’s a 3-hour drive from Dublin, and your best bet is to rent a car and drive yourself there.
If you’re the first to speak, remember to introduce yourself and your relation to the couple. Will your speech follow another? Then acknowledge the introducer who spoke before you.
Grooms can score serious brownie points for using their new titles as husband and wife, or Mr and Mrs. Brides love to hear this when their grooms give their speech.
Keep brief cue cards to hand to remind you of what comes next, so you can relax and the speech flows.
Cue cards also stop you from burying your head in paper – your guests want to see and hear you.
Don’t rush – it’s easy to speed up when you’re nervous, so take deep breaths and pace yourself.
If you’re hosting a large wedding or have chosen a venue with high ceilings, consider using microphones to ensure everyone can hear you.
Practise your speech for the perfect timing. It shouldn’t feel too fleeting, but, for the sake of your guests, it’s best not to ramble on for hours on end.
Anecdotes and stories are essential components of a quality speech – just make sure you string them together with a common theme.
Make sure your speech celebrates and includes both newlyweds, and not just the person you are closest to.
While you should definitely write the speech ahead of time, we love it when grooms leave a small space free to express how they feel right there and then – emotions that only actually getting married can bring.
Road test your jokes. This will help you give any overly inappropriate innuendos or references to ex-partners the axe before it’s too late.
But equally, don’t be too serious! Speeches at weddings and presentations at work are not the same thing.
Don’t forget to finish with a toast, say the right thank yous and oversee the giving of gifts where required.
Enlist an ensemble of visual aids or props if you wish, but ensure your venue is geared up for the technology and have a trial run in advance!
Have you ever just eaten an entire cake in one sitting? No? Just me? Well, either way, you’ve probably enjoyed a slice of cake from time to time. But have you ever considered what the top cake flavors are? Because there are plenty out there, and while they’re all generally tasty, only five can be the best.
Keep in mind this is cake flavors, not types of cake. You won’t find things like ice cream cake or coffee cake on here. However, you’ll just have to wait for another time for that one. But you won’t ever find king cake, because it’s awful. These are also all cakes that are typically accessible at restaurants and stores. While you may be able to make a mean almond, lemon, pesto, and toffee cake, chances are you won’t find that on a menu anytime soon.
In the meantime, chew on your favorite slice of cake. Let’s go!
1. Tres Leches Cake
This was really a competition for second place, because tres leches will always be the winner. I really came into my tres leches element in college, since Cuban restaurants run rampant in Miami. And let me tell you – a tres leches cake can brighten ANY mood. Doesn’t matter if you’ve just taken seven finals in a row or worked 63 hours this week. Your life will be improved with just one bite.
2. Red Velvet Cake
It took me a while to catch the red velvet train, but then I finally learned cream cheese icing on a moist cake is pretty amazing. Sure, a dry red velvet cake will ruin your Tuesday, but a good one will knock your socks off. In fact, let’s go get some right now.
3. Chocolate Cake with Vanilla Frosting
Love the taste of chocolate but just can’t eat a huge amount of it? Top with vanilla frosting and life will be just fine. The Chocolate and Vanilla classic is a movement most can get behind.
4. Yellow Cake with Strawberry Frosting
How’s this for a little curveball? Strawberry frosting? Am I nuts? Probably, yes. Of course, strawberry frosting can sometimes be far too sweet, but just the right amount will make you more content than Goldilocks.
5. Double Chocolate Cake
Not for the faint of heart, obviously. This is chocolate on chocolate at its finest. This cake is probably the best at keeping everyone at a manageable portion, since it could potentially just be TOO much chocolate. But in small(ish) slices, it’s absolutely fantastic. What more could a chocoholic want?
The couple who decided to get married with no clothes in front of 250 guests
Ellie Barton and Phil Hendicott decided to spend their wedding in their birthday suits. The pair of exhibitionist Aussies exchanged vows in front of 250 guests wearing nothing more than their wedding rings – and a bouquet of strategically-placed roses. Mrs. Ellie Hendicott wore a white, painted on “dress.” The only thing she really wore besides the bouquet was a long white wedding veil. Phil Hendicott wore nothing but a black top hat to cover his manhood. The wedding ceremony was conducted in the morning, live on FM radio to hundreds of thousands of Australians.
2. The couple who got married on a Bung-jump platform – and obviously jumped after saying yes
Jeroen and Sandra Kippers of Brussels, Belgium, were lifted on a platform by crane up 160 feet in the air for their wedding ceremony. They were joined by the officiant and about 20 guests. Another platform held the musicians. After the vows, they made it official by bungee-jumping over the side! The company behind the nutty nuptials – Marriage In The Sky – have been inundated with requests from couples desperate to fling themselves off the end of the aisle. But the ultimate thrill-seekers’ wedding doesn’t have to end there – once the wedding party have all been lowered back to earth, guests can head skywards again – for a floating reception. Wedding guests are wowed with a three-course wedding breakfast – all while strapped in to the dining chairs. The cost for such a spectacular ceremony? Around £25,000.
3. The Chinese bride who wore a 200m-long dress to set a World record
The bride from Guangzhou, China, set the world’s longest bridal train record at 219 yards. The Chinese bride accented her gown with a train that was over 600 ft long and weighed over 220 lbs. Xie Qiyun had this photos taken in front of a hotel in Guangzhou, the capital of Guangdong Province on her special day. According to Guinness, the longest wedding dress train measured 1362 m [4468 ft 5.94 in] and was created by Andreas Evstratiou in Paphos, Cyprus, in February 2007.
4. The couple who got married at T.J. Maxx
Who doesn’t get excited about the prospect of bagging a bargain? Bride Lisa Satayut decided to combine that feeling with her excitement over bagging her beau. Explaining that T.J. Maxx is her “happy place,” Satayut married Drew Ellis in the size 8 shoe aisle of a T.J. Maxx store in Mt. Pleasant, Mich. The bride — a self-proclaimed “’Maxxinista” — wore a strapless white chiffon gown, with long black gloves and bright green gladiator-style sandals. A widened aisle, vine-covered arch and white chairs with red bows highlighted the traditional ceremony that included string music, display-dodging cameramen — and curious shoppers who stopped bargain hunting long enough to watch.
5. The woman who married her dead fiancé in the morgue
A heartbroken mother decided to “marry” her murdered fiancé in a hospital morgue. Irish father-of-two Kevin Lavelle, 29, was viciously battered with an iron bar in a gruesome gang attack while working away from home to raise money for his wedding to fiancée Michelle Thomas. The caring dad was attacked by nine louts and beaten to death as he returned to his lodgings in Banbury, Oxfordshire. But even death could not keep him and Michelle apart. Despite her unbearable pain, Michelle organised a “wedding” in the morgue of Oxford’s John Radcliffe Hospital, where Kevin lay dead. The touching ceremony – witnessed by close family and friends – was conducted by the hospital’s Catholic priest who administered the last rites to Kevin. In front of an open coffin, the priest blessed the wedding rings that Michelle had bought specially for the service. Their two children, James, now five, and Megan, now four, went to their daddy’s funeral wearing the clothes they would have worn to their parents’ wedding. The priest asked Michelle if she would have taken Kevin to be her “lawful wedded husband” and she replied “I do.” Kevin’s dad Paddy placed a ring on Michelle’s finger and a ring was placed on Kevin’s finger as he lay in the coffin.Source 1, Source 2
6. The couple who got married inside a shark tank
April Pignataro and Michael Curry of New York City got married in June 2010. The bride wore a white wetsuit and the groom wore a traditional black wetsuit as they climbed inside a 120,000 gallon shark tank to take their vows at Atlantis Marine World in Riverhead, N.Y. Both are experienced divers and were protected by a cage as sand sharks, nurse sharks, eels and a giant grouper circled around. They wore scuba gear and mikes that broadcasted their words to each other, as well as to friends and family. They said their “I dos” over a radio transmitter with an officiant who did not get in the tank.
7. The bride who had 110 bridesmaids and set a World Record
Did you know that there’s a Guinness World Record for the most bridesmaids in a wedding? One bride from Proctorville, Ohio, broke the record with more than 100 bridesmaids at her June 11, 2010 wedding. Jill Stapleton, who owns Jill’s Tumble World, a dance school, asked her students — all 110 of them — to be her bridesmaids and walk down the aisle at her wedding. The bride asked each girl to choose her own dress for the wedding in either purple or teal, the school’s colors. In lieu of bridesmaid bouquets, each bridesmaid carried a single rose. The previous record for the most bridesmaids in a wedding was 90.
If you give your guests enough notice, summer weddings tend to have higher turnouts than those in the fall, winter and spring. Couples who want their friends and family to be able to attend their wedding should consider a summer wedding for this reason. You don’t have to worry as much about conflicting school schedules or busy work times of the year.
However, as I have learned with my own summer wedding, you should try to schedule your wedding in the heart of summer, rather than at the end or the beginning. Many guests might still be tied to those school schedules or they are just beginning the school year.
2. The Weather is More Consistent
In most parts of the country, summer is a more consistent time for the weather. Spring can be unpredictable with cold fronts and tornadoes. Fall can be beautiful but it can also turn into a snowstorm before you know it. Winter weather cannot just be difficult for the wedding party but also for guests. Those flying in could face problems with delays due to bad weather.
For the summer months, the weather does tend to be more consistent. While you can’t always plan on the weather, if you do a search of the average high temperatures and average low temperatures for around when you want your wedding, you will notice one thing, consistency.
For example, for my August wedding, the temperatures in Colorado remain in the mid 80s for highs and 60s for lows. Sure, you can encounter the occasional shower and bad day, but most parts of the country have consistent weather in the summer.
3. More Outdoor Options for Wedding Events
Many couples want to incorporate the outdoors into their wedding. While it is possible to have an outdoor ceremony or reception in the fall and spring, it is a gamble. You never know if you will have to go to a plan B in case of rain or even snow.
In the summer months, this is less of a concern. You can usually incorporate the outdoors in some way. For my wedding, cocktail hour and dinner will be held on a patio over looking the mountains. If there is a light sprinkle, we have an overhang that will shade guests. At the same time, my wedding guests will get to be outdoors, something most appreciate at a wedding.
4. The Flower Selection Tends To Be Better
From June to August, there are a number of flowers at their best that you can’t really get in throughout the rest of the year. While you can usually find any flower you want, expenses can go up if they must be shipped in from tropical locales or grown in a greenhouse just for your wedding.
Brides in the summer months can capitalize on the fact that more flowers are in bloom than any other time of the year. If you want a beautiful bouquet, your flowers stand a better chance in the summer.
5. Bright Colors Don’t Look Out of Place
For winter weddings, the color palettes tend to be more subdued to look right with the season. However, most brides want to use more cheerful and bright colors for their wedding. In the summer, the sky is truly the limit in this regard. You can pick bright hues and not worry that they won’t look right for the season. Summer brides tend to have more wiggle room in the color palette department.
6. Honeymoon Options Abound
While places will be there no matter the season, in the summer months, you stand the best chance of having a honeymoon under optimal conditions. For example, my summer wedding will lead to a honeymoon in Greece. We are arriving to Greece right at the tail end of the summer season, when many hotels, transportation services and towns in general are shutting down for the low season.
The same can be said for Caribbean locations during the fall hurricane season. If you want to experience certain parts of the world, summer is usually the best time to see these places without bad weather or non-existent services due to it being the low season.
7. You Can Dodge The Long Engagement
If I had another month to plan my summer wedding, I might go crazy. Sometimes too much time can be a bad thing when it comes to a summer wedding. According to a 2011 poll of 18,000 brides by The Knot and The Wedding Channel, the most popular month to get engaged is December.
If you don’t want a long engagement, six months out puts you at having a summer wedding. Getting engaged on or around popular holidays like Christmas, New Year’s Eve and Valentine’s Day lends enough time to plan a wedding and book vendors without having too much time on your hands to over think things.