For Sarah Wigger, a bride to be, the search for the perfect wedding venue has been a months-long journey.
“I know at the end of the day, we’re going to be married, so the site wasn’t the most important thing, but we’re excited it’s going to be beautiful,” she said.
Originally from Pomona, the 26-year-old physical therapist had just graduated from school and started a new job when wedding planning began. Her fiance, Cody Wirth, is in the military.
After deciding local churches either didn’t have the right look or would be too costly for them as non-members, Wigger and Wirth decided to hold their ceremony at the same place as the reception – the Terradyne Country Club in Andover.
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“I liked the idea of the guests not having to travel,” Wigger said. “We have a lot of friends and family from out of town, and they can watch a slideshow and drink cocktails while we do pictures. … I’m not trying to be cheesy, but I’m looking forward to starting the whole rest of our lives together. I’m excited to relax and have fun with everybody and just celebrate.”
Wigger is not the only bride to go that route.
Those in the Wichita area wedding industry say they’ve seen an increase in the number of brides who want to hold the entire wedding in one venue.
Bridal consultant Ronni Johnston, who owns Perfect Touch Custom Weddings and has been helping Wigger plan her big day, said that families can lose valuable time switching from one location to another.
And when it comes to weddings, time is valuable because many vendor fees are based on the number of hours they provide services.
“It’s a cost saver,” Johnston said. “If they can let guests right after the ceremony start eating, they can skip appetizers and keep the bar tab down since guests aren’t waiting on the wedding party to arrive. A lot of them are doing it for logistics, too.”
Botanica Gardens, 701 Amidon, does about 125 to 150 weddings per year, said Linda Keller, events manager. More and more couples, it seems, are choosing to have the ceremony and reception there.
A possible expansion would allow Botanica to build a second banquet facility and host two events simultaneously, she said.
“I think it’s more economical to do it in one place,” Keller said. “If you have a ceremony in one location, you have to pay for that set-up and cleanup, and then with a reception in another location, you have to pay for that set-up and cleanup.”
The consolidation also helps lower decorating costs, Keller said, and by not changing locations, it “helps keep a captive audience.”
Keller says they’re also seeing shorter ceremonies that last from 12 to 17 minutes, which is another reason more people may be choosing to stay in one spot.
Another location is Abode Venue, 1330 E. Douglas, which opened about two years ago.
Abode was originally a furniture store offering high-end contemporary furniture, but Josh Jackson, director of public relations, said they decided to turn it into an event venue, with mostly corporate events during the week and weddings on weekends.
“The overall architecture of the space is more modern, very clean,” said Faith Geilenfeldt, owner of Bel Amour Events.
“It’s a very versatile space where you have three different spaces to utilize for a lounge, ceremony or reception. It’s something a lot of brides are drawn to because they can do the ceremony and reception right next to each other. It fits into that trend.”
Keeping the wedding and reception at the same venue also allows couples to avoid “the gap,” or the time between the two, which guests often find awkward.
“People want it to be easy for their guests and a very natural transition,” Geilenfeldt said.
For her clients, Geilenfeldt said it’s a bonus for those venues to be close to hotels, bars and places for people to hang out after the wedding festivities.
“It creates more of a party atmosphere for things to flow evenly from one space to the next,” she said.
Grace Hill Winery, 6310 S. Grace Hill Road in Whitewater, started hosting ceremonies and receptions last year. Jeff Sollo, event coordinator for the winery, says they have found that more brides just want a “one-stop shop.”
Bill Rowe, owner of Blue Moon Catering, said he has also noticed the shift to one location for weddings.
“There was a time when girls wouldn’t think of getting married anywhere except the church they grew up in,” he said. “I don’t think that’s happening as much … possibly because our society is becoming more secular.”
Building on a trend several decades in the making, couples also are looking for nontraditional venues for weddings. In addition to destination weddings – say, on a beach – area brides are choosing to tie the knot on ranches and farms.
“It’s sticking around. I don’t see it going anywhere,” said Alli Sacket, owner and designer at Jubilations Events.
“People in the Midwest just really are family oriented. … They like to use heirlooms in the weddings, things like a suitcase, a hanky or a piece of grandma’s dress around their bouquet. They’re sticking to their roots and making it a big deal.”
Sacket said that decorating venues like barns and ranches can also help out a bride on a budget, since items like burlap and mason jars tend to be less costly.
“Brides here love ‘rustic chic,’ ” Johnston said. “You can mix Victorian and Western, go deep country or just go with the simple and natural.”
Ashley Moore, owner of Events by Ashley, says better-known country venues in the area include Fulton Valley Farms in Towanda, Round Barn Ranch in Derby, The Red Barn in Goddard and Eberly Farm in Wichita.