The next step after putting that sparkling engagement ring on my finger was figuring out where we were going to have the wedding! It’s traditional to have the wedding ceremony at the bride’s hometown church, but just because something is traditional doesn’t mean you need to do it! My fiancée Aaron and I decided to follow tradition and have our ceremony in my parent’s church in my hometown; a small lake town about 45 minutes outside of Duluth, Minnesota. Because my hometown is so small, options for a wedding reception site near our ceremony location were pretty slim. We decided to look for wedding reception venues in Duluth so we would have more options. Studio Laguna Photography How do you decide on a wedding and reception venue? Everyone has different qualities that they are looking for in wedding venues, so it’s important to figure out what qualities are important to you. Do you want something rustic or elegant? Outdoors or indoors? Historic or modern? We made a wish list of all the characteristics that we wanted our wedding reception venue to have. This wish list was: -Venue had distinct Lake Superior feel -Hotels nearby -Room for at least 150 people -Budget-friendly -Venue with a wedding package deal How to have a wedding on a budget: research, research, and more research. Having grown up just outside of the city, I am pretty familiar with the different options for Duluth weddings. Having that inside knowledge was a huge asset when I began researching these venues in depth. If you aren’t very familiar with the area where you hope to have your wedding, I highly recommend talking with a local to get ideas about possible locations. Research is the key to having a wedding on a budget. After spending nearly a month online looking at the different ceremony and reception venues for Duluth weddings, I was able to narrow it down to four different locations we wanted to tour. Brio Art Photography Ask the right questions. When you are touring possible locations for your wedding reception, you want to make sure you ask the right questions, especially if you are trying to decide between a few different places. We brought my mom along since she knew exactly what to look for and what questions to ask. Some important questions to keep in mind: -Is my wedding date available? -How many people does the venue accommodate? -Does the venue require you to use a specific caterer/bakery? -Can I bring my own wine/beer/champagne? -Are there restrictions on the types of music we can have or a set end time for music? -What is the rental fee and what is included in the price? Linens, china, silverware, glassware, chair covers? -And ask yourself: Does this venue fit into my wedding budget? These are just a few of the MANY questions that we had when touring perspective Duluth wedding venues. It helps to take notes and photos so you can remember what each location looks like and features. Many reception venues have brochures with important information on them, so be sure you grab one from each venue you consider. The Freckled Key Photography Making the Choice! After visiting all of the potential wedding reception venues, it was time for Aaron and me to decide!We carefully considered the different characteristics of each of the locations we toured, before deciding to go with a hotel and ballroom right on Lake Superior in Duluth. After we made the decision, we quickly called to reserve our wedding date. Choosing our wedding reception venue was one of the most exciting aspects of wedding planning for us-- at least thus far! It was fun to go to different locations and imagine what it would be like to celebrate our wedding at each of them. Your reception venue sets the tone for the entire celebration, so be sure to choose a location that you and your fiancée are in love with!