One of the biggest wedding-related decisions is the venue. The location of your wedding is not only the backdrop for all of your photos, but it also plays a huge role in the tone, cost and logistics. One of the best (and free) resources I discovered while looking at wedding venues was contacting the local Visitor Information Centre of the city we are getting married in. Since we are having a pusedo-desination wedding (about 4 hours from where we live), I knew very little about the city we were getting married in. With one simple email and phone call I was sent a list of all the places that host weddings, a rough estimate of the cost of the venue and a general description of each. It was like having a free wedding planner!
Another benefit to speaking to the Information Centre was the great range of venues, some that I would not even have thought of before such as parks, vineyards, gardens, warehouses, farms and museums. You can find a venue that suits any style and budget. Some of my favorite places we saw were an organic flower farm, a local park where you can get a wedding permit for $30 and a beautifully restored warehouse space.
We booked a small family-owned vineyard in Kelowna, BC. It was far less expensive than the traditional golf course or hotels and it has that rustic-vintage vibe that I was looking for. I also like supporting a local business rather than a hotel chain.
So before you shell out money on a wedding planner look for free resources such as Tourist Information Centres and remember to think outside the golf course.