The unpredictability of the weather is often the main factor in a couple’s decision to have their ceremony and reception in an indoor wedding venue. In the Jacksonville area in particular, the most popular times of year for weddings also coincide with some of our hottest temperatures and rainiest days. Regardless of the weather factor, some couples simply know from the outset that they want an indoor venue for their wedding ceremony, reception or both.
If you’re in the midst of or about to plan your wedding, here’s a helpful guide to what to consider in an indoor wedding ceremony and reception venue, outdoor vs. indoor pros and cons, and information on the affordable wedding venue at the Thrasher-Horne Center.
Indoor wedding vs. outdoor wedding: Which is right for you?
In addition to the weather, plenty of other factors can influence your location decision. These are just a few of the pluses and minuses on each side of the question if you’re still on the fence about indoors or out:
Indoor wedding pros and cons:
- Pro: Although every single detail may not go as planned in any location, an indoor wedding venue gives you the greatest control over nearly every aspect of your ceremony and/or reception. Fewer uncontrollable variables mean there’s less that can go wrong at the last minute.
- Pro: With no concerns about extreme temperatures, high winds or a drenching rain, you and your wedding party will look your best, and so will your decorations.
- Pro: You can control important details such as lighting and sound systems, both of which contribute to the overall ambiance for you and your guests.
- Con: There’s no denying that some outdoor locations provide spectacular backdrops and natural surroundings that indoor venues are difficult to match (however, the option of pipe n’ drapes with customized lighting can offset this concern).
- Con: You are limited to the number of guests your indoor venue can accommodate, while some outside venues may have acres of space.
Outdoor wedding pros and cons:
- Pro: Outdoor weddings, particularly simpler ceremonies and receptions, can be less expensive.
- Pro: Fewer decorations may be needed, since nature will provide most of those.
- Pro: An outdoor venue may be more family-friendly, since restless kids will have more room to run.
- Con: You will need to have an indoor contingency plan to move the ceremony and reception in case the weather takes a turn at the last minute.
- Con: Basic conveniences such as adequate restrooms, paved parking and walkways, and food preparation areas may be limited or even non-existent.
- Con: Guests with accessibility concerns may not be able to navigate parking options or walk on uneven ground to the outdoor site.
Choosing the perfect indoor wedding and reception venue.
Once you know that an indoor wedding is right for you, it’s time to narrow down your venue choices based on these considerations:
There are two location-related questions you’ll need to answer: Will the ceremony and reception be at the same place? Will the venue be easy for all of your guests and vendors to get to? Although your dream spot may fit your idea of the perfect backdrop, it also needs to accommodate the practical considerations of asking your guests to travel between the ceremony site and the reception site, and not being too remote for the majority of your guests.
Have your preferred dates and times ready when you talk to various venues, and be prepared with a few backup dates as well. Depending upon how far ahead you’re planning and whether you want to have your wedding during the most popular times of year, you may be able to quickly cross some venues off your list.
Number of guests and seating arrangements:
Indoor wedding and reception venues vary greatly not only in size, but also in configuration. Even if you haven’t nailed down the exact number of invitations you plan to send, you’ll need to provide a good number to venues. In addition to asking how many guests they can accommodate, ask whether there is any flexibility in how the spaces you’ll use can be set up. If you have a particular seating arrangement in mind, make sure the venue can accommodate it.
Food and beverage capabilities:
Another area in which venues vary is in how they manage food prep and serving. Some venues may offer a fully equipped kitchen or convenient warming kitchen, while others may have only minimal facilities available. It’s also important to find out what the venues’ policies are on alcohol if you plan to serve it.
Wedding party conveniences:
Some businesses whose main focus isn’t weddings or other similar events may not have much in the way of private areas for members of the wedding party to prepare for the ceremony. If you’ll need a dressing room (or two), be sure to ask prospective venues what they have to offer.
As hosts for your wedding event, you’ll want to ensure that the venue you choose will be comfortable for everyone. If any guests have limited mobility, consider each venue’s options for accessible parking and drop-off areas, wheelchair ramps, doorways wide enough to accommodate wheelchairs and walkers, elevators, accessible restrooms, and paved walkways. For anyone who may not be able to stand for long periods, make sure plenty of seating will be available at both your wedding ceremony and reception.
If you will be serving a sit-down dinner, make sure anyone who needs special accommodations has convenient seating with plenty of room around it. Also keep all of your guests in mind when choosing the type of food and beverages you serve, since some choices may be unwieldy for even the most abled-bodies guests. Will guests need to balance plates and drinks while standing or walking around? If so, plan your menu items carefully with your caterer.
A venue’s tech features factor into most modern weddings. Check with venues on their lighting options, sound systems, and wireless internet access. Discuss your plans with the venues’ event planners for any slideshow/videos, music or speakers that may require certain equipment such as projectors or microphones for officiants.
Services included in pricing:
When you’re getting estimates from various venues, you may find it challenging to accurately compare them since the services and furnishings in one venue’s quote is all-inclusive, while another may charge a rental fee for some line items. Make sure you have a clear understanding of every item and service that’s included in an estimate, which are available for rent, and what the venue will allow you bring in if they can’t supply some things you want. You don’t want to have any unpleasant last-minute surprises when something you expected to be included or available, isn’t.
Another factor that can vary quite a bit among venues is the availability of event planners or other staff members. When you’ve narrowed down your venue list and go tour each venue, find out just who will be working on your plans with you, how you can reach them with questions, and what tasks they will take care of, and which ones you’ll be responsible for. Also, who will be onsite with you, the day of the wedding. A great staff can make all the difference in your wedding’s success!
In addition to the above considerations, Brides.com offers a list of 30 wedding venue questions you should be asking before you book your venue.
Touring the venues on your short list is a must, but to make the most of your time, be prepared before you go with your lists of must-haves and nice-to-haves, plus basic information such as the number of guests, your plan for serving food and/or alcohol, and other details that the venues’ staff will need to know about before estimating costs.
Let Thrasher-Horne make your day.
With the average cost of a wedding exceeding $33,000, you may think you can’t have the wedding of your dreams and still have money for life after the honeymoon. (Check out our tips for planning a wedding on a budget!) But we have good news: You can have your indoor wedding ceremony and reception at an affordable wedding venue with five-star service at the Thrasher-Horne Center. It’s all here: a scenic backdrop for photography, accessibility, and a professional on-site staff of event experts.
The Center has more than 6,200 square feet of space, including suites with movable wall partitions for maximum flexibility. That means you have the perfect venue for either an intimate ceremony, or a lavish wedding or reception in our grand room.
Custom furniture setup and breakdown services are included in our venue’s rental pricing. We also offer an extensive list of equipment that’s available for rent, from a dance floor, pipe ‘n drapes and baby grand piano, to A/V carts, table linens and much more. Catering is flexible, so you can work with one of our recommended caterers or use your own, who can have access to a convenient warm-up kitchen.
We also have free wireless network access and ample free parking for your guests. Our convenient location makes it easy for your traveling guests, and there are plenty of hotels and restaurants close by.
To learn more about everything the Thrasher-Horne Center’s wedding venue has to offer, we invite you to schedule a tour. Please contact our Rental Coordinator at 904-276-6815, extension 2 or email us today.