Southern Belle in Training

Fashion, Travel & Lifestyle Blog || Est. 2012 || Virginia Beach, VA

January 17, 2024

Wedding Wednesday: Are We Doing a Local or Destination Wedding?

      Time for my next Wedding Wednesday post! I already know that this whole series is going to be so much fun to write and document over the next year or two. The biggest question that I feel like a couple gets when starting to plan a wedding is "Where do you want the wedding to be?" Will the wedding be local to where the bride and groom currently live, in the bride or groom's home city, or a domestic or international destination wedding? All of those options have their own pros and cons of course. And the estimated wedding budget definitely plays a huge roll in figuring out which option would be best. Ready to find out where Ryan and I are planning to get married?


      Ryan and I have mutually decided that we will be having our wedding locally where we live, in beautiful Virginia Beach, Virginia

     We are both very happy with the decision and we actually had our reception venue tours over the past week! There were several factors that went into choosing to get married locally. I'll start by sharing why we ruled out other options:

  • Why we aren't doing Maine (where I'm from): The nicer venues in my hometown area (Kennebunk/Kennebunkport) are all ridiculously expensive. Not that having a Virginia Beach wedding is necessarily cheap, but the preferred venues in my hometown would've for sure been more expensive. We also would've been pretty limited to having a summer wedding for warm weather, as the spring season is often very cold in Maine and can't be counted on for being good wedding weather. Summer 2024 would've been too soon, and Summer 2025 seemed way too far away. Lastly, probably 75% of our guests (maybe even a higher percentage?) aren't from Maine and are beyond drivable distance from Maine, so Maine would count as a "destination" wedding and would probably rule out a lot of people from attending, similarly to a tropical destination wedding when it comes to high travel costs for guests. And for reasons that I'll share further down, I'm not interested in a domestic destination wedding. I was pretty set that I was open only to a local wedding to where I live currently, or a tropical island type destination. 
  • Why we aren't doing Missouri (where Ryan is from): Ryan wasn't interested in having our wedding in Missouri. I haven't even had a chance to visit Missouri with him yet, so even if he had interest in doing it where he is from, I would never say yes to having a wedding in a city/state that we hadn't visited together yet! While Ryan and his brother were raised in Missouri (his brother still lives there), all of their other family currently lives in other states, with the majority being in Virginia. (That's actually why Ryan moved to Virginia in 2022!) And it's the same destination problem as Maine would've been- most guests aren't in driving distance from Missouri.
  • Why we aren't doing an international destination: I actually went through a short phase last summer after visiting an all-inclusive in the Dominican Republic with my dad where I really wanted a tropical wedding at an all-inclusive resort, whether in the DR or another island. While I wasn't super open to US destination, I liked the idea of a one-stop-shop tropical resort that included venue and lodging all in one place. It seemed like it would be much easier planning-wise to do this than a destination somewhere in the US. But Ryan was automatically against having the wedding in another country that would require any of our guests to get passports. So that ruled that out pretty quickly.
  • Why we aren't doing a domestic destination: Ryan was more open to doing a domestic warm weather destination, but I actually was not! I felt like the only type of destination that I'd enjoy doing was a foreign island where we could be at an all-inclusive resort that would take care of anything. For example, I was not open to looking into hotels in a state like Florida, because I'd still have to outsource a bunch of vendors, and that seemed like so much work to do in a place that I didn't currently live. I also kind of thought that would be unfair to my parents to pick a random domestic destination, when I wasn't that open to getting married in Maine. 
  • Why we aren't doing Edenton, NC: This was the one spot besides for where we currently live that Ryan and I actually seriously considered pursuing. Over the past couple of years, I've shared a lot online about my obsession with the charming Eastern North Carolina town where my aunt and uncle moved to: Edenton, NC! It's only an hour and a half south of Virginia Beach, and there are a couple of really nice options for venues there. Ryan came to Edenton with me for the first time this summer, and he also loved the area. It wouldn't really be much of a "destination" for us, since we are in such close drivable distance! It would've been very easy for me to get down there for vendor meetings. We ended up not deciding to pursue Edenton out of consideration for our guests. We have a pretty decent chunk of guests that will be flying to our wedding. Edenton is an hour and a half from our local Norfolk airport, which would be the closest one. We don't want to rent a bus to transport guests to and from Edenton, which means that guests would be forced to rent a car to get down there. If we get married in Virginia Beach (under 20 minutes from Norfolk airport), guests flying in can easily rely on Uber for the weekend and not be forced to rent a car. There are also very limited lodging options in Edenton- one Hampton Inn and a couple of bed and breakfasts. We wouldn't want anyone to wait awhile to book lodging and then get blocked out. Virginia Beach has much better transportation and lodging options for those traveling from afar, so that solidified our decision not to pursue venue tours in Edenton. It also looks like we've found some local venues in Virginia Beach that will be cheaper than Edenton.

     A little bit about the geography of our local area: Virginia Beach is part of the Hampton Roads metro area, which comprises seven cities. Virginia Beach is the largest one by population, and there are also several mid-sized and small cities nearby. The "Southside" of Hampton Roads is Virginia Beach, and the cities of Norfolk, Portsmouth, Chesapeake and Suffolk. On the "Peninsula" side of Hampton Roads are the cities of Hampton and Newport News. The Peninsula cities are connected to the larger Southside cities with the Hampton Roads Bridge Tunnel on Interstate 64. 

     Tunnel traffic can be terrible, so we have no interest looking at wedding venues in the two Peninsula cities of Hampton Roads. We also aren't as interested in getting married in the other Southside cities besides for Virginia Beach. Parts of Chesapeake and Suffolk are very far away from Virginia Beach (and could also be tough for guests flying in and require them to rent a car, just like had we picked Edenton, NC). 

     Norfolk would've been the other local city that I would've considered getting married in. They do have some really nice hotels and other venues there. But we did get engaged in Norfolk though at Norfolk Botanical Garden! And the spot that I'd like to take our engagement photos at is also in Norfolk. I'm excited to do that soon! 😊 Virginia Beach just feels more "us" to have our wedding there. Narrowing our search down only to venues in Virginia Beach has also been helpful, too

     As I mentioned earlier, we had our reception venue tours here locally over the past week. I am so excited for taking the next steps in wedding planning very soon! 

Other Wedding Wednesday Posts:

Our Proposal Story // My Ring Shopping Experience // 

     God Bless,

      xoxo Annaliese


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