The wedding venue is the ultimate expression of a couple’s personality and picking the location can be a daunting task. Venue selection usually addresses two key factors: style sensibilities (aesthetics) and practical considerations, so keep these in mind while researching.

The overarching theme here is to find a location that represents the tastes of you and your fiancé. Everything should flow from here. Fortunately, there are plenty of options and pretty much anything goes. Churches are the traditional option but beaches, parks and other natural locations are extremely popular as well. There are also the more unusual locations like a hot air balloon—trust me, it’s been done—and underwater nuptials—yup, I’ve seen that too—so your options are limitless.

Begin by creating a list of dream locations. Consider the energy you want to express and the kind of images you want preserved from your day. Do you want an intimate gathering with close family and friends or a grand affair with plenty of glitz and glam? Do you want lots of natural elements for an airy feel or do you crave adventure? Now is the time to put it all on paper.

After you have figured in aesthetics and energy, it’s time to make some practical considerations to whittle down venue locations. Creating a guest list in the beginning is essential, that way when you’re researching vendors, you can compare how much their space measures up to your needs and in turn what you can afford—especially if renting chairs is a necessity. If you plan on having a considerable number of guests, you have to take into account parking, time of day and a number of other factors when picking a location. Making a list of practical concerns and measuring their importance will help you come to a conceivable balance between fancy and functionality for your wedding venue.

Good Luck!