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Expert Advice: Find the Right Nashville Wedding Venue, Based on Your Personality and Style {Part 1)

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

Choosing your wedding venue can be challenging.  There are so many things to consider.  Your preferred wedding style will play a major role but so will your personality.  Your personality will determine how much effort you are wiling and able to devote to customizing your venue.  

After speaking with Nashville wedding planner, Sarah, of Music City Events, I gained a better insight into Nashville wedding venues and how you, as a bride, might determine the one that’s right for you.

As a general rule of thumb: the more flexibility the venue offers, the more distinct your wedding, and the more work for you (or your wedding planner). In fact, if the venue is a complete blank space, you can truly transform the space, bring in a variety of wedding vendors BUT it will require you to hire a strong wedding planner (which you should anyway) or be incredibly skilled at event planning. On the other hand, the less flexibility the venue offers, the easier your wedding is to plan but there’s also a greater chance that your wedding will look like other weddings in the space. Sarah was clear to note throughout our conversation that there are exceptions to every rule but she was willing to offer the below general guidelines for those selecting the location for their Nashville.

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Front Porch Farms: Photos: Lotus Blossom Photography


Venue Type 1: Turnkey Wedding Venues (Flexibility: Some/ Work for the bride: Very Little)

These venues will be the easiest venue for you as you plan your wedding but most will offer the least flexibility. They come with everything you need,  such as an on-site caterer, event manager, chairs, tables, linen, and silverware.  Because most of the options are standard, it will take a bit of creativity and maybe extra money to keep it looking like someone else’s. 

Examples: Hotel ballrooms, restaurants, country clubs, museums

Think: Nashville Zoo, Nashville City Club, Hard Rock Café, Hutton Hotel, Sambuca Restaurant, Cedarwood, Mere Bulls Restaurant, The Parthenon, Gaylord

What Brides Love: These venues are built for events. Everything is taken care of. We call these turnkey venues because you walk in, sign contract, pick a meal from 4-5 basic menus, tweak a bit, everything taken care of because they include wait staff, chairs, tables, linen, china, event manager, liquor, linen, food, service. You don’t have to worry about anything. You bring music, flowers, photographer. This venue type is great for a bride who doesn’t want to find and manage various service providers. And the great thing about hotels is they are easy for out of town guests who can leave your wedding and head to their room.

What Brides Should Consider: Because everything is included, there usually isn’t much room for customization. For instance, all of these have on-site catering so you aren’t able to bring in your favorite caterer. If you wanted say an Asian Fusion style menu, they wouldn’t be able to offer it if that’s not something they cook and you couldn’t bring someone in from outside. You can tweak their menu and many of these locations have great food. For design, you usually are offered a basic linen, 1 chair type, 1 china pattern, so there is not much variety. Some will allow you to rent linen, china but that kind of defeats the purpose of these venues, which is to be somewhat easy.

The cost of a wedding at an easy location isn’t much more than other venues. Most have a minimum food and beverage amount that you must spend. These spaces are usually challenging to use for ceremony and reception because space is limited to you may have to use the ballroom for both and flip the space, which can be awkward for guests and expensive for you.

As we said initially, there are always exceptions. For instance, the Nashville Zoo requires their catering but beyond that, brides have many options to customize the space and there are many different spaces to use – from indoor to outdoor. With some of the others, like Cedarwood, you can customize many of your design packages to achieve varied looks. But what all of these have in common is catering and other vendor options are limited, which is great for some brides and less desirable for others.

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Nashville Zoo; Photos: Krista Lee Photography


Hutton Hotel; Photo: Dove Wedding Photography

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Sambuca Restaurant

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Country Music Hall of Fame; Photos: Chris and Adrienne Scott

Venue Type 2: Semi-Turnkey Wedding Venues (Flexibility: Moderate / Work for the bride: Moderate)

These venues include SOME of the standard event needs. They might include an on-site coordinator, chairs, tables, linen, and silverware. Most allow you to choose your caterer or select from a preferred list.  These venues are the second easiest option for you as you plan your wedding, offering a little more work and a little more flexibility. These would be considered semi-turnkey locations.

Think: Noah Liff Opera Center, Country Music Hall of Fame, War Memorial, Front Porch Farms, Travellers Rest, One@Cannery Row

What Brides Love: These semi turnkey locations for some are the best of both worlds. They allow some flexibility but also help with basic things, like rentals, which are usually included. You usually are given a list of caterers from which to choose, giving you more control over your menu and food, design; half of these spaces allow you to bring in own alcohol, bring own linen, and furniture so you have more options for room layouts. Many of these locations are better able to accommodate your ceremony and reception.

What Brides Should Consider: There are more options than the turnkey solution so you have to contact all of the companies, do separate caterer tastings. These venues may require more decor, lighting and draping than a hotel or restaurant. There is more work for a bride, planner for this type of venue.

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Noah Liff Opera Center Photo by Gregory Byerline Photographer

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One @ Cannery Row; Photo: Nyk and Cali Wedding Photographers


War Memorial; Photos: Skipper Photography

About the Author:

Ashley King's avatar
Ashley King

Hey - I'm Ashley! I started to give Nashville brides, or folks planning a Nashville wedding, a local resource for inspiration and resources. Hope to see you at a bridal show soon! Until then, Find me on

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send Posted on February 12, 2013 | Filed under: Advice & Planning, Wedding Planners & Coordinators, Wedding Venues and Locations,

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