So, you think you want to get married in the Granite State? Then you can’t miss this list of 10 questions to ask when choosing amongst the many amazing wedding venues in New Hampshire.
1. How will most of your guests be traveling to your New Hampshire wedding venue?
If most guests are arriving by air from destinations outside the northeast, then Boston Logan International Airport will likely be their best option. But depending on your venue location, you should also consider the airports in Manchester (NH), Portland (ME) and Burlington (VT). For example, the Horse & Hound is 2-2.5 from each of these 4 airports, so they are all a viable options for our couple’s wedding guests.
Also consider the driving time to the venue, not just the mileage. Some New Hampshire wedding venues are off major highways and the local roads can add travel time. A good rule of thumb is that north to south is faster to navigate than east to west. We’re lucky at the Horse & Hound that we’re located only a couple miles from an I-93 exit, so you can stay on I-93 practically your entire drive from Boston.
2. What theme do you want at your NH wedding venue?
If you already have a theme in mind, you can narrow your New Hampshire wedding venues search. Here are some suggestions for New Hampshire regions to focus on, depending on your wedding theme.
Nautical/beach wedding theme
If your wedding theme is nautical or beachy, then the most obvious choice is the New Hampshire Seacoast Region. This includes Portsmouth, Dover and Hampton.
Additionally, nautical/beach theme with a rustic twist could easily fit at a wedding venue in the Lakes Region or the Dartmouth-Lake Sunapee Region.
Rustic/Outdoorsy Wedding Theme
If you’re thinking rustic and/or outdoorsy, then consider the White Mountains Region as your top pick. The Horse & Hound is at the base of Franconia Notch State Park in the White Mountains and has an array of nearby hiking and biking options.
Industrial Wedding Theme
If you want an industrial warehouse feel, you should consider Manchester, NH. There are some great industrial venue spaces in town.
Finally, if you’re looking for a historic venue, then you’re in luck. Every region in New Hampshire offers a ton of historical wedding venue options. For example, Portsmouth in the Seacoast region is the third oldest in the U.S.!
3. When searching for wedding venues in NH, size matters – how many guests will be attending?
Your search should focus on NH venues that accommodate your guest list. You should expect about 15-30% of your guests to accept your invitation. Wedding invitees usually accept destination weddings invitations at the lower end of that range. Also note that if you’re having an intimate wedding with your closest family and friends, the acceptance rate will likely be on the higher end of that range.
Next consider what space you’ll need for the various wedding events, such as ceremony, cocktail hour and reception. For example, how many of your guests will need seating during the cocktail hour?
The minimum reception space needed depends on a lot of factors. Consider these factors when analyzing reception space at wedding venues in New Hampshire:
- Will you have a sit-down dinner or a buffet?
- Will you have a dance floor?
- A band or a DJ?
- How many bars do you need? It’s typically recommended that there is one bartender for every 50 guests.
- Do you need tables for dessert, name card tents and presents?
- If you have tented wedding, does your caterer need a catering tent?
Be sure to stay up to date on COVID rules in New Hampshire to ensure that your reception space complies.
4. Does the NH Wedding Venue Offer a Backup Plan for Weather?
If you’re planning an outdoor ceremony and a tented reception, you should always ask the venue about their rain backup plan. If the venue doesn’t have one, that you’ll likely need to do the ceremony in the same tent as your reception.
For example, at the Horse & Hound, we have a backup ceremony space inside for up to 100 guests in case of bad weather.
5. Do you Need Outdoor and/or Indoor Space at your New Hampshire Wedding Venue?
The outdoor v. indoor wedding venue question is in part, a matter of preference. But it also may depend on the season you want to marry in. You’ll risk additional costs for heaters and siding for your tent if you schedule your NH wedding in the spring or late fall. For example, in Franconia, NH the average temperature in November is in the 40s
Wedding venues that offer space for an outdoor tent often give you the most flexibility, because you can choose a tent that matches your wedding size.
6. Should you search for full-service NH Hampshire wedding venues or do you want to choose your own vendors?
Many wedding venues in New Hampshire, especially bigger hotels, require couples to use the venue’s wedding coordinator and catering service. This may be appealing to some couples who want to keep things simple. At the Horse & Hound, we suggest vendors we love and who know the property, but we also recognize that couples may have someone special they want to use.
Expert tip: Make sure you understand the difference between a “wedding coordinator” and a “wedding planner.” Wedding venues may offer an in-house wedding coordinator, which is focused on making the wedding day run smoothly as opposed to planning everything leading up to the big day. Put more succinctly, a wedding coordinator’s role is a lot more limited than the a wedding/on-site coordinator.
7. Do you want lodging at your NH wedding venue?
You’ll find a lot of barn wedding venues in New Hampshire. Barns can be lovely and offer a great cold weather option, but many do not come with lodging on-site.
Lodging on-site at your NH wedding venue can be especially helpful if you’re having a destination wedding. You’ll be able to spend more time with your closest friends and family. And guests can use the venue as a home base for the weekend.
You should also consider how many guests you want staying on-site at the wedding venue: just the wedding party, your family, or the entire guest list?
If all your guests can’t fit at your wedding venue, you should make sure there is nearby lodging for the remaining guests. A lot of New Hampshire is rural, so accommodations can be limited!
8. Do you want activities nearby your wedding venue in New Hampshire?
If your guests will be staying the whole weekend, you may want to consider searching for wedding venues in New Hampshire that have a lot of nearby activities.
For example, the White Mountains have amazing, hiking, mountain biking and swimming. The lake regions also offer awesome lake activities like swimming, water skiing and tubing. And the New Hampshire coast offers great beach activities, especially in the warm weather.
9. When searching wedding venues in NH, have you considered the unglamorous logistics?
Especially when you’re looking at non-traditional wedding venues in New Hampshire, you should consider whether you have the appropriate electricity connections, water and toilets.
Another less glamorous but potentially important detail is parking and turnaround space. You’ll need a place for guests to park and/or an area where provided transportation can drop off and pick up wedding guests.
10. What’s included with the wedding venue?
What is included in the price for the wedding venue can vary greatly amongst wedding venues in New Hampshire. For example, at the Horse & Hound, you are required to rent the entire lodge for 2 nights. But then you have access to the property for a Friday night rehearsal dinner through Sunday brunch.
There are also smaller items like an arch, dishes, candle holders etc. that can add up if you’re buying on your own. More traditional hotels and event space typically have the most wedding items available on-site, but it depends on the venue whether they charge extra for them. So make sure you ask!