How to Coordinate Two Different Wedding Venues for the Ceremony and Reception

A wood arrow sign that says "wedding."

Often, you may know exactly where you want your wedding ceremony or reception, but that location doesn’t suit both events. So, what’s a good solution? You end up booking both. You’ll have your ceremony at one place and then head over to the reception venue for the rest of the evening! This is a great way to get the best of both worlds, particularly if you have a specific vibe or location you’d like for each portion of the celebration. Here’s what you should you keep in mind to make sure all aspects of your day go smoothly.

Alert Your Vendors

Make sure you let all of the necessary vendors know about your two-location plan. Some folks, like your caterer, probably won’t need to know the specific details of this, as they will be based solely in one location, but others like the florist, photographer, or videographer might find this information extremely important. They should get the address for both locations and you should be clear with them about where they should be meeting you for the start of your day. The last thing you need is your videographer showing up at the reception location instead of the ceremony location and missing your walk down the aisle! It’s always a good idea to re-confirm with your vendors ahead of time, just to make sure you’re all on the same page.

Decide on Transportation

A bride and groom in a van with their bridal party enjoying a champagne toast after the wedding ceremony.

This is especially important for you and your new spouse, of course, but it’s also relevant to make sure that everyone involved, from guests and vendors to your bridal party, know what the plan is for transportation to and from the ceremony, and that they are all set to make that happen. This may be especially relevant if your bridal party rode with you to the ceremony location, but you and your partner will be riding solo to the reception—you don’t want your friends left high and dry! Make sure you’re very clear in your communication about transportation and timing for the reception.

Hire a Reception Organizer

Since you won’t be able to be present at the reception area, have a point person at your reception venue who knows exactly what you’re hoping for aesthetically. Give that person the names and numbers of important vendors as well as the name of someone to contact (that isn’t you!), should any issues or concerns arise. Although you can ask for a friend or family member to do this, it might be best to hire an outside organizer, since this person will likely be unable to attend your actual ceremony, as they’ll be holding things down at the reception venue. If you’re unable to do that, then at least have a designated point person that can be there up until right before the ceremony time. Then, they can quickly rush over to see you get hitched, and head right back to the second location. That’s not an ideal solution, but it is possible, and is much better than not having anyone available for day-of coordinating at the reception venue and arriving to see that nothing is as it should be.

Build Travel Into Your Timeline

A group of people having a champagne toast at a wedding.

You definitely want to make sure to build travel time into your wedding day timeline. Even if your ceremony and reception locations are relatively close to each other, it’s important to realize that you still need to count travel time as you create the timeline for the rest of your day. This is particularly relevant when planning for photography, as well as timing the cocktail hour and/or meal with your caterers. If you forget to include even a 20-minute travel window, you can throw off the whole schedule for the rest of your day, and the last thing you want is for your wedding day to be hectic and frazzled! If anything, pad a little extra time in there for potential traffic and you’ll be relaxed and enjoying yourself, even on the drive over to the party!

Be Prepared

Make sure you have a clear, written list of what items you’ll need at your ceremony venue and what you will need at your reception venue. It would be no fun to arrive at your ceremony only to realize that all of your bouquets were dropped off by the florist at the reception venue. Having a precise, detailed list of what needs to be where will calm nerves and help others coordinate items so that you don’t need to be worrying about that on your wedding day!

Having two separate locations for your wedding ceremony and reception can be a great way to get married and celebrate in the exact places you’re dreaming of. Be prepared and communicative and it should go just fine!

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