Choosing a Wedding Venue: Tips to Finding a Spectacular Space

Choosing a wedding venue is undeniably one of the most thrilling steps in the wedding planning process.  Since your dream venue selection sets the backdrop for your entire event, choosing wisely is everything.  Many of your wedding day details depend on reserving a venue first, so it’s easy to feel the need to book quickly. But like marriage, wedding venue selection shouldn’t be rushed into or taken lightly.

Our best advice: take a moment to talk with your partner about what feels most authentic to you as a couple

To keep your search grounded and streamline your options, it helps to start your search early and have your budget and guest list numbers handy.  You will be more likely to find a space that is available and accommodating to your specific needs.

Location, location, location

If you are originally from this part of North Carolina or have a special, heartfelt connection to this area, planning a local or hometown wedding may be the perfect choice.  A local wedding offers many practical advantages. Simplified planning and costs, venue visits and vendor meetings are more easily doable after-work or on weekends. Often family and friends live in-town making it more convenient for your guests.

Many couples have spent months (or years) dreaming of an elegant country wedding, complete with beautiful barn and all of those charming southern touches.  Located in the heart of Wake County (NC) a venue like Pavilion at Carriage Farm offers an unforgettably romantic experience, filled with nostalgia, and the breathtaking backdrop of an authentic farm wedding.


Photo courtesy: Bow Tie Collaborative
Photo courtesy: Bow Tie Collaborative

Trust the experts

Now, it’s time to bring in an expert – a wedding planner is your go-to advisor in the world of weddings. Choose a highly recommended, local planner early in the process, to help you gain valuable insights and guide to you through the important initial decisions. An experienced planner will help you curate a list of stunning venues and reliable vendors, saving you time and money in the long run.

Pavilion at Carriage Farm has an exclusive list of trusted area wedding planners that we’ve had the pleasure of working with over the years. These top-notch planners provide an outstanding service to our couples and their industry knowledge is second to none. In addition, we provide our own on-site Venue Coordinator, available to help with any location specific details throughout your event. Not only does our staff coordinator have extensive wedding and event experience, but her in-depth understanding of The Pavilion will help you create a unique, unforgettable event!  

Exploring exceptional venues

Defining your style

Defining your wedding style will help you clarify your vision and focus your venue options. Whether you envision a garden party, filled with twinkle lights, a beautifully simplistic bohemian ceremony, or a charming southern family-style affair, defining your wedding aesthetic is essential to choosing the most appropriate location.

  • Traditional or Casual – How formal or traditional do you want your wedding to feel? Black tie or cowboy boots? Ballroom or BBQ?
  • Indoor or Outdoor – We all know our weather here in NC can change in a heartbeat.  It’s best to be prepared.  Does the venue offer both indoor and outdoor ceremony and reception spaces? Pavilion at Carriage Farm offers stunning spaces, from our elegant outdoor pergola to our stately stacked stone fireplace, to serve as a backdrop for your ceremony. 
  • Ceremony and Reception spaces – Many couples appreciate having a separate outdoor ceremony location followed by an indoor reception, giving them the best of both worlds. Our breathtaking pergola is often a favorite location for ceremonies, surrounded by towering pines and beautiful blooms, it is both inviting and intimate.
  • Photography inspiration – You have probably seen hundreds of inspiring wedding photos already.  What speaks most to you about the scenery?  Is it rolling hills, open fields, and sunsets on the farm? If so, look for properties, like Pavilion at Carriage Farm, where we have acres of farm inspired landscapes and abundant options for those personalized photography moments.

Budget basics

Before you begin, it’s important to have a realistic understanding of your overall wedding budget and specifically how much you have available to spend on your venue.  Enlist your planner’s advice here to stay within budget.

It’s also important to know what is included in the rental price for each venue you explore.  Some venues bundle rental costs into all-inclusive packages to simplify planning and coordinate services. You want to be comparing apples-to-apples. Ask for line-item pricing so you aren’t surprised by extra rental costs for things like linens, a dance floor, sound equipment or other day-of details. 

Photo courtesy: Bow Tie Collaborative
Photo courtesy: Bow Tie Collaborative

Availability and amenities

Keep in mind that flexibility can often help you save money and still have the wedding of your dreams.  If you haven’t set a firm wedding date yet, consider off-season dates or Friday/Sunday evenings instead of a highly sought-after Saturdays.  If you have a specific date already in mind, planning well in advance will only help keep your options open and ensure your preferred date is still available. 

Insider tip: Fall is traditionally peak wedding season in NC, look at dates in early summer or early fall (April/May and September) to find more open weekends, lower prices, and still dependably lovely weather.

In addition to availability, there are other practical considerations and property amenities to inquire about when selecting a wedding venue like level of seclusion, accessibility, parking access, and hours of operation.  The logistics involved in planning a wedding can often make or break the overall success of your event, be mindful not to overlook these details.

Guest considerations

Speaking of guests, have that preliminary guest list dialed-in!  There can be big differences in searching for a venue to host an intimate group of 30 or a large group of 300. Capacity certainly counts.  You need ample space for your guests to feel comfortable, but you also want to avoid having too large of a space, which can feel awkwardly empty. 

Remember too, that some of your guests may be traveling from out of town.  Think about the venue’s proximity to RDU and if there are a range of reasonably priced nearby hotel accommodations and dining options. Located only minutes south of downtown Raleigh, Pavilion at Carriage Farm is ideally situated, ensuring the entire wedding experience is enjoyable and memorable for everyone!

Choosing a wedding venue – final thoughts

During your venue visits, soak in the subtle ambiance of the space.  A stellar venue should leave you feeling inspired, in love and excited to return!  Before committing, it’s always smart to read independent reviews and ask for references from other recently married couples.

Here at the Pavilion at Carriage Farm, we sincerely hope you enjoy your wedding planning journey, wherever it may take you – and if your search leads you down a quiet country lane, our barn doors are always open.


Call (919)621-2648 to schedule a private tour of Pavilion at Carriage Farm and book your dream wedding today!