Choosing Your Wedding Venue

By Becca George

He asked, you said yes and you haven’t been able to stop looking at your ring for the last month. Being engaged and planning a wedding is one of the most exciting times in your life. It also comes with a lot of questions and decisions. Where to get married is one of the first decisions you will have to make.

When it comes to venue options there are a wide range available, from barns to ballrooms. Some venues offer an inclusive package that includes almost everything you need for the wedding, while others have an “open vendor” policy which allows you to hand craft your wedding. There are pros and cons to both types of venues and things to consider when making the choice as to which is right for you.

What is the difference between an inclusive venue and a DIY venue? A traditional or DIY venue typically includes the space and sometimes includes tables and chairs then allows you to bring in vendors of your choice. An inclusive venue is one that not only takes care of the space but includes things like, flowers, DJ, catering, cake, planning and many things in between. These venues have a selection of vendors that take care of every wedding held there. There are also venues that fall somewhere in between, including things like tables, chairs and rentals, or catering.


Your budget is another one of the big wedding questions and your venue will play a big part in this. How does the cost of an inclusive venue compare to one that doesn’t include anything but the space? The overall number for the inclusive venue may look large in comparison to the room only price but a bit more research might be required to get a true comparison.

Many inclusive venues are on a tiered system that allow you to customize your package a bit. They may offer a very basic package, then a couple with upgrades to menu, rentals or flowers. The cost of these packages might start somewhere between $15-$30k depending on your guest count. For a traditional venue the venue cost might be between $5,500-$8,500, which looks more cost effective on the front end. It is possible to save money by booking a traditional venue if you are looking to book more budget-friendly vendors. Depending on the venue, you may end with around the same bottom line once you budget the cost for rentals, catering, cake, DJ, flowers and décor.

Even with an inclusive venue some vendors will likely not be included in the overall number. Many times, the photographer, videographer, paper goods, transportation and things like assistance with out of town blocks or guest bags have to be booked outside the inclusive package. It is also important to ask any venue, traditional or inclusive, if there are any additional or hidden fees that could come up in the planning process.


When booking an inclusive venue, you will likely be required to use the vendors they have vetted and include in their package. This can be a pro and a con. It is convenient because the venue has already done the research for you and they have chosen vendors who will represent both you and the venue well and they have saved you an enormous amount of internet searches. It can also be a bit restrictive in that you will be limited to the style and décor that these vendors offer.

Inquire about the creative options available to you. If the venue and vendors can achieve your style and ideas then it could be a match made in heaven.

When it comes to traditional venues, you have more freedom to choose the vendors you want to work with. This allows you to choose the ones that not only fit your style, but fit your budget as well. It may allow you to be a bit more creative and think outside of what has traditionally been done at that venue. The downside to this is that it will require you to do the research and reach out to these vendors regarding services and pricing. A traditional venue will likely have a list of preferred vendors that are still researched and vetted but not required.

Inclusive venues may also have a lot of décor that you can choose from on site. If they are the style you are looking for, these items offered, such as lanterns, candles, etc. can drastically reduce the amount of flea market and craft store trips you have to make for wedding décor.

Many times these décor items my be included with one of the packages offered. If you are looking for the latest trends or most modern furniture and décor they may not be available through your venue and might have to be brought in by a third party. Whether you choose an inclusive or traditional venue, talk to them about any specific ideas you have for your wedding and the feasibility of making them a reality.

“While we have the best of both worlds, our couples can bring in their own professional team to Legacy Farms. We do have a majority of our clients who come to Legacy Farms because it is all inclusive,” explains Amy Richardson, Event Planner at Legacy Farms in Lebanon, “The client who prefers all inclusive venues is looking for convenience, affordability and flexibility.”

Amy explains that many couples choose outdoor wedding ceremonies, but at Legacy Farms, they have a backup rain plan included at no additional charge and on-site catering that allows for freshly prepared food with a wider variety of menu options.

“Though Legacy Farms employs most of the vendor services, if it is a service that we outsource, the vendor has been vetted thoroughly saving the couple time and money. Our average prices range from $14,900 to $19,200 depending upon package detail and guest count,” says Amy, “We also have a unique niche in offering overnight accommodations at our historic bed and breakfast as well as intimate packages for elopements or more intimate guest counts.”


Planning your wedding can quickly become overwhelming. The guest list, the budget, the decisions. Having someone by your side to help you through all the details can be very valuable. Many inclusive venues have their own in-house event planners who can help you navigate all the ins and outs to having a wedding at their venue. An inclusive venue simplifies the process for you and keeps your communication with a smaller number of vendors. These planners may still not be responsible for items outside the venue but will help limit the amount of details on your plate.

When planning through a traditional venue you may be required to communicate with a much larger number of vendors. It will be your responsibility to set up catering tastings, secure rental items, talk about flowers and many more. This can be somewhat daunting if you do not like dealing with all the details of wedding planning. Traditional venues will allow you to bring in your own event planner who can help with the majority of responsibilities for the wedding. With these venue you have more flexibility to choose a planner who fits your personality and aesthetic.

“Saddle Woods Farm offers its clients the opportunity to choose their own professional vendors. We find that many of our families like the option to push their budget in the areas that are important to them,” says Jayne LeGate, Owner of Saddle Woods Farm in Murfreesboro,

“Being able to bring in their own vendors helps them accomplish this. Thanks to Pinterest and the internet, brides can find inspiration photos of nearly anything they can dream of. This gives them the ability to share pictures with their vendors and create a design that really reflects their personality.

Being venue only, of course, saves our clients a significant amount of money right off the bat. Murfreesboro has many extremely talented vendors and coordinators who can help assist brides on their special day!”

Consider what is more valuable to you, having all your vendors in one place, or being able to hand-pick the vendor team for your wedding day. If you don’t have a lot of time to plan and want the convenience of a one-stop-shop an inclusive venue may be the right fit but if you want a very creative, outside-the-box wedding a traditional venue may be a better option for you.

Which type of venue is right for you?

Take into consideration the overall look and layout of the venue. Will it work for your guest count and can you see yourself getting married there? Are you someone who wants to hand pick your vendors and make your wedding completely custom or do you want a more all encompassing approach with less research to do? Regardless of where you choose, talk to your venue about the options you have there and how to make your wedding day personal to you.

Inclusive Venue Pros:
More of a one-stop-shop with less research of vendors involved
Better idea of overall cost up front
May have many décor items for you to use
Saves time and could be less stressful for you

Inclusive Venue Cons:
Can be more expensive
Doesn’t allow you to build your vendor teams
Décor choices might be more limited based
on what they have in-house

Traditional Venue Pros:
Freedom to choose your own vendor team
Can be more budget-friendly
Allows you to be more creative

Traditional Venue Cons:
More research involved
You will be required to make more decisions
Your vendors are not already all in one place

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