Wedding Venues: Your Alma Mater May Be the Perfect Venue

You already spent four years of your life (and sometimes more) writing term papers and feverishly slaving over final exams. Now it’s time to enjoy the nicer parts of what your alma mater has to offer.

Many colleges and universities have picturesque locations for weddings, and their event planning departments are only too happy to help you host special events on the premises.

If you’d like to revisit your college days with a wedding on campus, get ready to be treated like a VIP.

While most couples choose campus venues as a way to commemorate their love story’s origins, it’s not mandatory for you to have met your sweetheart in school. As long as at least one of you has a connection to the institution, holding your wedding there is probably fair game.

Some universities don’t even require either member of the couple to have attended school there; they simply rent out their event space like any other professional venue. If the school is a religious institution, it may have additional requirements for the types of weddings it will allow.

When scheduling your wedding, always be sure to ask if there is a discount for alumni. Most schools will happily offer you space for a percentage of the price if you have an alumni connection. Ask what is included with your room rental fee, as well.

Most schools have pre-arranged packages that can provide party rentals like tables, audio/visual equipment for slide shows, catering, bartenders, and other on-site staff for a set price.

Don’t forget to tour the facilities in person before you book a space. Although you may remember the campus vividly, things may have changed in the intervening years. Even if you graduated very recently, touring as an event host will allow you to see the campus through very different eyes.

Ask if you can schedule your tour for times when the spaces will already be decorated for weddings, so you can envision your event more clearly. Some campuses offer showcase dates that are specifically designed to give couples a sense of what the buildings look like during special events. Y

ou will usually be able to get a sense of the in-house catering or bakery options during these events, as well. If you have your own preferred vendors, always make sure you will be allowed to use them on-premises before booking the venue.

Do you have dreams of turning your wedding reception into a misty wonderland? Always check with the venue management before purchasing items to create fog, smoke, bubbles, strong scents, flame or sparkler effects, or considering messy items like confetti and rice.

Helium balloons and dove or butterfly releases will also need to get approval beforehand. Additionally, many venues prohibit taping or affixing decorations to walls and ceilings, so do your homework before investing in décor items.

Before you get too excited about scheduling the proceedings, give some thought as to what campus venues are available to you. Just because you have an emotional connection to, say, the building where you and your soon-to-be spouse first took a class together, it doesn’t mean the building is your most picturesque choice.

While most colleges are happy to work with you to plan a wedding in any part of the campus, some areas will be more suitable for hosting than others. Look for charming spots with ivy-covered walls, fountains, or old brick buildings.

If you’d like to immortalize the spots that were most important to your love story, you may want to plan a walking tour as part of the wedding festivities. Take your guests on a tour of the campus where you can show them the site of your first meeting, first date, first kiss, or even the site of the marriage proposal.

If you bring along your wedding photographer, you can have fun reenacting all of your favorite moments for an album you’ll never forget.

If possible, schedule a summer wedding during the months when most of the students will be gone. This will give you more privacy and room. Vendors will be more eager for business during these “slow” months, and you will be more likely to be granted discounts. Avoid the “back to school” months in early fall, when nearly every hotel in town is sure to be booked.

Want to bring some of that collegiate feel to your proceedings? Give out graduation caps for your guests to throw in the air after you say your vows.  You may want to get the band to play the school song to start off the evening, as well.

If you happened to attend a school with colors you like, go ahead and use them as your wedding colors. The campus venue you choose will almost certainly already own tablecloths and decorations in the theme.

If you’re expecting a lot of guests from out of town, don’t forget to arrange accommodations in the area. Look for quaint spots like bed and breakfasts, which are sometimes willing to give group discounts during slow months.

You may want to ask the school about arranging accommodations for your more adventurous guests in the college dorms–these are often empty during summer months and are a fun way for your guests to relive their own school years.

Your university wedding is the perfect opportunity to contemplate how far you’ve come and how well your life has turned out. After all, you’re marrying the man or woman of your dreams.

If you’re traveling from afar to get married in your former college town, don’t forget to look up old friends or teachers who may still live in the area. They’ll certainly want to share your happiness on this special day.