Finding the perfect setting for your wedding is a difficult task. Not only are there so many options from which to choose–banquet halls and chapels and gardens and barns, oh my!–but often brides and grooms don’t agree on what makes a venue perfect in the first place. If you're having a tough time deciding which setting is ideal for you, there's a way to have your cake and eat it, too.

Find the balance by narrowing your search to indoor/outdoor venues that have the best of both worlds. Marilyn Delanoeye, Vice President of Hospitality and Private Events for the Skirball Cultural Center in Los Angeles, suggests combining a beautiful outdoor space for the ceremony with the comfort and beauty of an indoor setting for the reception and dinner service.

An indoor/outdoor venue is the perfect compromise. Everyone can have the type of celebration they like without feeling like they're sacrificing anything. "Often, there's one person in a couple who's the more practical of the two," Delanoeye observes. With an indoor/outdoor venue, she says, "That person doesn't have to worry about whether the cake will be melting, or the food needs to be heated, or if guests need sweaters. The other person, meanwhile, can enjoy the gorgeous setting, the fresh air, and the views they've been dreaming of."

When scheduling your wedding day, give consideration to what parts of the celebration you'd like to take place indoors, and which would be better served by an outdoor location. Using a venue with equally-beautiful indoor and outdoor space gives you more flexibility because you don't need perfect cooperation from the weather. Hold your outdoor ceremony without worry; you can bring always everyone inside on a moment's notice. Even on a day with scattered showers, the sun may pop briefly through the clouds. A venue with appropriate indoor and outdoor alternatives will allow you to take full advantage of every sunbeam. 

Finding a venue with both indoor and outdoor areas you love can be a challenge, but it is worth it in the end. As you're looking for the perfect outdoor area, Delanoeye suggests paying special attention to places where the bride can make her big entrance. The Skirball, for example, has a special area set up for this purpose. The bride appears in a second story entryway while guests sit in the courtyard below. She descends a dramatic flight of stairs and proceeds around a reflective pool to the ceremony space. "It gives everyone a chance to admire her," Delanoeye says. While many indoor venues are set up with dramatic entryways, it's important to keep this photo-worthy moment in mind when choosing your outdoor areas, as well.

Another thing to consider: what view will your guests enjoy? The Skirball was carefully designed with this in mind; it has a modern China slate courtyard with majestic mountains behind it and a wide expanse of open sky overhead. Your view will determine the overall mood of your wedding as well as your memories (think of it as nature's décor), so look for venues that have given photo opportunities careful thought.

One of the major advantages to having an indoor/outdoor venue is that your guests will never be far from modern conveniences. "Having an open outdoor feel to the wedding photos is often important," Delanoeye observes of the couples who wed at the Skirball. "You want to feel like the backgrounds to your photos are natural and picturesque. Our pathway, arroyo garden, and trees are very popular because they evoke a bucolic feeling. But you don’t want your guests to feel like they're trudging through dirt and grass to get to your ceremony." Look for venues, like the Skirball, that combine modern architecture and courtyards with smooth stone pathways. That way, you will get your beautiful photos, and your less mobile guests will never have to leave their comfort zone.

You've found the perfect outdoor area; now give equal consideration to the indoor portion of your venue. One key element in creating the perfect indoor/outdoor compromise is windows and large expanses of glass, according to Delanoeye. "You're coming indoors, but you still want to feel close to the outdoors," she says. "Tall windows, even when they're closed, make you feel like you still have the freedom and expanse of the outside. Yet you're in a protected space. You have the cozy feeling of a warm room, but you also have the grandeur of the view. You get both."

Another aspect to look for is the ease of passage between the indoors and outdoors. This allows you to plan simultaneous events in multiple parts of the venue (such as dancing and mingling), and guests will be able to step out easily to get fresh air.

As you plan the perfect wedding, it's hard to juggle all of your concerns at once. You want your beautiful outdoor photo-op, but you also want to make sure that Grandma is comfortable. You want perfect weather, but the weather forecast doesn't seem to agree. You're trying to balance caterers, florists, decorators, and wedding planners, and each operates on a separate schedule. Make it easier on yourself by finding a beautiful venue that's also full service, easy to get to, handicapped-accessible, and offers a good mix of photo backgrounds. It is possible to compromise without giving anything up.

The Skirball Cultural Center is a full-service, scenic location in Los Angeles, CA that celebrates life cycle events such as weddings, proms, and Bar and Bat Mitzvahs, as well as corporate events and galas.

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Gloria D. | Report Abuse

Thank you! We have been trying to find our venue and the bride's entrance point is one of my big "won't compromise" points. We're not too far from LA either.

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Bronson Tyler | Report Abuse

You can find plenty of "spaces", but if you really care about the entrance, many venues don't take it into account. Traditional churches are usually build so symmetrically that you have a natural framing for the entire wedding party to walk down the aisle. But I've been to just as many wedding venues here in Utah, where the bride has to come in from the side and wind her way around to get to the head of the aisle.

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