If you're stumped as to where to hold your wedding, the answer may lie not too far from your home. Many neighborhoods have welcoming community spaces where any member of the community–yes, even you!–can use the area to celebrate a wedding. Enjoy a friendly, community atmosphere with a minimum of fuss and expense. Take advantage of the place you live and become a full member of your local community!
Know Your Neighborhood
Look for community spaces in your own neighborhood and surrounding neighborhoods first. The closer you can get to familiar ground, the better you will be able to navigate the complicated territory of hosting a major event. This is one of the most important duties that professional event planners provide–they are able to help couples connect with services in unfamiliar locations.
When you plan an event in your own neighborhood, chances are high that you already have connections and preferences among the local vendors and locations. You'll be able to help visiting friends and family choose the best hotels and accommodations. You'll know which streets usually have available parking. You'll know which nights are the slowest (and therefore best for renting) at your favorite restaurants. When you know your wedding locale intimately, you'll be amazed at how much of the stress of typical wedding planning simply melts away.
Enjoy Complete Freedom
Unlike many hotels, banquet halls, and other formal wedding venues, community spaces do not pressure you to use in-house staff. In fact, most community spaces simply consist of the buildings themselves. It is up to you, therefore, to decorate the space and enhance it using whatever wedding vendors you desire.
This freedom can be daunting if you're the type of person who wants a turnkey wedding experience. However, if you don't mind the involvement of choosing à la carte vendors, you can put together a personalized spectrum of services that applies your budget exactly to the areas you value most.
Benefit from Affordable Rates
Community spaces are usually among the least expensive wedding venue choices in any given city. This is because they are often overlooked in favor of flashier options like country clubs. However, most community spaces are simple, all-purpose buildings. This means they provide the perfect blank slate for you to decorate in whatever manner you wish. Plan your wedding far ahead of time in order to reserve your date. If your calendar is flexible, you may be able to find an even more affordable rental rate.
Many community spaces are non-profits and donate their event rental proceeds to the local community. Instead of turning your wedding budget over to a large corporation or chain business, why not support your local area? You can feel good knowing that the money you spend will enhance your experience as a resident. In essence, it's a wedding gift that you get to give yourself!
Dress It Up
No matter what your local community space looks like, there are ways to turn it into the wedding venue of your dreams. Even the most bare-bones meeting hall has a blank wall or two that can be decorated with festive paper lanterns, draped tapestries, or other enhancements. Look for portable decorations like stand-alone shoji (Japanese paper screens) or wicker arches woven with fresh flowers.
Visit the venue with your photographer ahead of time so you can note any especially picturesque photo opportunities. The entrance stairs, for example, may be just a lattice arch away from becoming the backdrop for your family photos. The back patio could be turned into a garden for the day with a few potted azalea rentals. Instead of seeing the location as a done deal, tour it with an eye for decorations. The ultimate community space is an invitation to indulge your creative side. With the money you'll save from a traditional wedding venue rental, you'll be able to treat yourselves to any decorations you wish.
Be Part of a Community
Part of the joy of marrying the love of your life is discovering that you are part of another loving family. Extend that revelation on your wedding day to realize that both of you are part of something even bigger. When you become more active in your community, you turn your neighborhood into an extended family. You may turn a few neighbors into friends along the way, so save a few slices of cake just in case!