This entry is from our Expert Guest series where wedding and honeymoon professionals share their best tips on creating memories that last a lifetime.
New England is one of the most beautiful, diverse and popular wedding locations in the United States. So why wouldn’t you plan a wedding there? Because there are many venues, styles, and vendors available in a close area, New England a fantastic choice for any type of wedding. Whether you are traveling in from afar or are lucky enough to live there, many choices exist.
Below are some of the top decisions you will need to make early on in your engagement. So don’t wait! Let’s get started…
First, what is your wedding style?
When you close your eyes and imagine your wedding day, what do you see? Whatever you see at this moment would suggest your wedding style.
New England offers so many wedding styles so narrowing down to one can be a tough decision. One example a rustic barn or farm wedding. Though there are many beautiful farms in every state in New England. The first place to look for the most authentic look and lots of space would be in Vermont, Maine, and New Hampshire.
Another style is a coastal or seaside wedding. Maine and Massachusetts would be the first places to look. For lighthouses and rocky coastlines, begin your search around Boothbay or Bar Harbor, ME and Newport, RI. For the most beautiful beaches try the North Shore of Massachusetts, Cape Cod, or Martha’s Vineyard.
Maybe a mountain view is what you are after! The White Mountains of New Hampshire and Maine will provide you with the most dramatic backdrop for your wedding ceremony, while the Green Mountains of Vermont and the Berkshire Mountains of western Massachusetts will be rolling hills of beautiful hardwoods.
If none of the above fits your style, there are so many other choices. This could be a lakeside venue on Lake Winnipesaukee in New Hampshire or Sebago Lake in Maine. Or a historic mansion or estate, best found in the seaside towns of Connecticut and Rhode Island. A country club or ski resort are great venue selections too because they are found in every New England state!
Once you have settled on a wedding style (or two!) your next step is to start thinking about a date.
Next, narrow down a date for your New England wedding
It may seem to make sense to just start shopping for venues right away after determining your wedding style. But the next important thing to consider is your wedding date. Your wedding style will help you narrow down to the best time of year but there are a few other things to consider.
Think about what season is the best fit for your wedding style.
Autumn is by far the most popular time of year for a New England wedding. Yet, October may too cold for an outdoor ceremony if you want to be by the ocean. Spring is another great time for most weddings, yet in the mountains, there may still be snow and no greenery on the trees.
June, July and August are, in general, a great fit for any wedding style. If your vision is at a historic estate or ski resort, air conditioning might not be available. The hot, humid days of summer will be difficult for you, your bridal party and your guests without AC!
Another aspect to consider is how long your engagement will be. In New England, the typical engagement may be anywhere from 10 months to 2 years. Engagements are longer because the best venues book out early as well as all the top vendors. Only after you have narrowed down a season or month that fits your wedding style should you start touring venues.
How to pick your wedding venue
By now you should have a wedding style, a general location, and a time of year. Once these choices are settled you can start searching for venues. The best sources are online and word-of-mouth. Start asking your social network for recommendations, search wedding blogs, and other planning resources.
When touring venues there are a few key things to consider – the biggest one being budget. Spending a big piece of your wedding budget on a dream venue could mean sacrificing your preference for other vendors. This could result in a compromise on, say, the photographer. A budget photographer may not provide you with the amazing pictures you desire (the reason you picked your dream venue in the first place!)
One often overlooked part of choosing a wedding venue is the rain plan. You must love your ceremony spot on a rainy day as much as you love your ceremony spot on a sunny day! Some venues offer beautiful locations as alternatives but many don’t. There is no way you can predict if it will rain on your wedding day, especially in New England. Please rank this very high when selecting your venue.
Accessibility is another factor to think about when searching for a venue in New England. Most areas are within an hour or two of a major airport, but you should take a look at the lodging options nearby. It is possible guests will have a huge expense or difficulty finding a place to stay.
When you like a wedding venue ask about their availability. Hopefully, this will align with the month or season you desire! Many will offer Sunday or weekday weddings, so ask if the Saturdays are filled. If there is nothing available, don’t stop there. Maybe consider compromising on the date to get the venue you want.
What’s next? Time to book these vendors sooner than later!
Below is a list of the vendors to start shopping for as soon as you have a wedding date and venue selected. The top vendors in these categories will book up first, especially those that are local to the best venues.
It is a good rule of thumb to search local to your venue first. If you cannot find what you are looking for nearby, start expanding your search to the state and metro areas. Cities like Boston, Portland, Burlington, Hartford, and Providence will have the biggest variety of vendors in each state.
- Wedding photographer and/or videographer
- Wedding planner or coordinator
- DJ or wedding band
- Caterer, if needed
- Hair stylist and makeup artist
Congratulations on your engagement and I hope this has helped with your wedding planning!
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Bio: Cate Bligh is owner and lead photographer at The Green Barn Wedding Photography LLC. Her studio is located in Moultonborough, NH and serves weddings throughout New England.