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venue shopping, How to Go Venue Shopping

According to the planners, and my personal experience, most venues are reserved at least a year in advance. Which translates to a little bit of stress, since here I am with less than 11 months until I get married and I’m still venue-less! Time to go venue shopping!

Let’s Get Started:

If I had picked a theme by now this would be substantially easier, but I have not. Hopefully viewing some venues will help me narrow down a possible theme but where to start?

Do you want to get married in the mountains with eagles soaring above your head and the crisp fresh air surrounding you?

What about a resort with lush flower gardens and peaceful streams?

Do you picture a wedding in a ballroom with waxed wooden floors and high ceilings you can hang flowers and lights from?

What about even a wedding in Vegas married by a man who sounds like Elvis or in Disneyland where you can actually get picked up in Cinderella’s horse drawn carriage?

Personally, I am the ballroom girl. I loved Belle as a little girl and I don’t know if I will pick the ball gown dress or not, but I do know I want a ballroom. Now, where will this ballroom be located?

I live in an extremely rural area which has very limited options for venue shopping and vendors. Due to the limited supply, yet seemingly high demand, this could drive the cost of my wedding up substantially and I may not even find anything I like. Over the years I have saved several venues I liked. They are located all over, including Salt Lake, Ogden, Jackson Hole, even a few in Denver. All of these places are within a few hours drive from my home which isn’t a big deal for us, however, the majority of my family and friends live very close by and I don’t want to ask all of them to travel for the wedding. According to the guests are less likely to come if they have to travel out of town and if they have to pay a substantial amount to attend your wedding. So much that the out of town percentage is estimated at less than 60%.

I guess my decision is made! Our wedding will be right here, in Rock Springs WY. Or Green River, since they are only 12 miles apart. ????

Ceremony Venue:

I am a traditionalist and I want to get married in a church. Conveniently for me, my church does not have any fees associated with a wedding ceremony so it will be free. (Budget win and dream come true!)

If you aren’t interested in getting married in a church there are lots of other options. You can get married by a judge in just about any town at any venue for a small fee. My fiance’s sister had one of her other sisters get ordained and she conducted their wedding ceremony. However, if you want your ceremony and reception in the same area keep in mind you will need to set up/tear down or rearrange things before your reception starts.

Reception Venue:

I know that I want a ballroom (or something very similar) but there are so many questions I need to figure out the answers to while venue shopping.

How much space do I really need? As of right now, I’m thinking 300 guests. I haven’t priced food so that might have to get cut down but it’s better to have too much space, than not enough. That narrows it down to Holiday Inn, The Elks Lodge, local fair grounds, or a city owned Pavilion. Each of these venues has different rules, expectations, and opportunities.

What are the rules?

What are the expectations?

What about vendors?

What about drinks?

What about security?

This is where my Wedding Planner is finally going to get used! My venue section has columns for me to compare different features of each venue. However, after being a real estate agent, I know there is NOTHING more important than taking a walk through the venue. (This is major during venue shopping!)Pictures speaks a 1,000 words and people can answer 100 questions in great detail, but when you walk into a place you really know how it feels, and only then can you start picturing your big day.

Luckily for me, I have already hosted events in all of these places and know that the city pavilion will work best for me. It has enormous vaulted ceilings, no vendor constraints, no time or music constraints, and is located right next to a bridge extending over the Green River, which can serve as a beautiful backdrop for photos or for guests who need some fresh air. Conveniently it is also the cheapest of all my options at $400 a day with a $500 deposit. Since my wedding is a DIY, I will be renting it for 3 days. One to decorate, one to celebrate, and one to clean up (definitely not excited for the cleanup day.)

The venue was not available to rent on Thursday so we have moved our wedding date one day (from the 3rd to the 4th) to accommodate for our decorating time. Although I had to move the date, I’m still getting the venues I want for $1200. I’m checking this off as another budget win and so completes our venue shopping!


My name is Chelsey Cloward and I am a DIY-er. I’m twenty-seven and I work as a design specialist for the largest power plant on the west side of the Mississippi. For those of you who don’t know, design specialist is a fancy term for industrial drafter. Between the hours I work and commute to work, I am gone for 11 to 12 hours a day. I am also the President of the Activities Committee for the plant, which means I plan and coordinate each and every event for the 350 employees we have (picnics, golf tournaments, poker runs, Christmas parties, etc). Because of this, I have become highly organized and efficient, both in my event planning abilities and my personal life. In my personal life, I am extremely creative. I grew up wanting to be an interior designer or an inventor and spent my time as a child constantly drawing, painting, and creating things. So each and every chance I get I customize my home, my camper, and anything else I can get my hands on!

On March 18th, 2017 my best friend proposed to me and now I am getting to plan my biggest, most stressful party yet: My Wedding. I’m going to take you, my reader, on this wild, scary, fun journey with me. I’ll break down everything I can so you can see the ins and outs of planning your own wedding, learn from my failures and my triumphs, and hopefully, be entertained!

How to Go Venue Shopping