(Originally published 13th June 2018)
How to Choose Your Perfect Wedding Venue
There’s so much choice it can be a little overwhelming and difficult to know where to start.
There’s a lot to think about and your venue decisions will also influence your other decisions for your day, such as décor and catering choices.
Let’s have a look at things you might want to consider.
Many wedding venues are booked up well in advance so this is likely to influence your wedding date. If you want a specific popular venue, you may not get your pick of dates unless you’re booking a few years in advance.
Similarly if you want a specific date you may need to compromise on your venue. Remember most venues only hold one wedding per day so your options won’t be huge, especially in peak season.
Saturdays in summer are still the most popular day of the week to get married on. So it may be worth considering a different day of the week or time of the year to increase your options of venues and dates. (Many venues also offer lower prices for mid week weddings)
This is a big factor in your decision making. There are so many different styles of wedding venues so have a good look at the various options that are out there.
From hotels to marquees to barns to tipis and everything in between – there are many options to choose from now so you’re sure to find one that really suits you as a couple.
Think about your natural styles and where you will be comfortable.
If you want to really be able to go to town with your styling, then a blank canvas may be best for you. Something like a barn will give you the flexibility to decorate how you want.
Some venues have quite bold décor which you will need to work with. If you want your venue to look amazing, try to avoid colours which will clash with their décor.
It’s a good idea to put together an initial draft guest list so you know approximately how many guests you are likely to be inviting.
This is really going to drive some of your options as some venues won’t be big enough for you or may actually be too big. You don’t really want 20 people trying to fill a room that can seat 200.
Make sure you know how many guests venues can seat comfortably. Wedding venues often tell you the maximum number of guests they’re allowed but that maximum can mean that guests don’t have much space and a lower number may be more comfortable.
Your venue will probably be the biggest spend of your wedding. I know you think I’m obsessed with budgets but with such a high cost item you need to be clear how much of your overall budget you’re willing to spend on your venue.
Your wedding venue cost may well be more than just the hire of the place as well. Make sure you understand what is included in any prices quoted. And that you understand what else you’ll need.
For example a dry hire venue will have a lot more additional costs. Dry Hire is where you literally hire the building and then it’s down to you to source everything else.
This gives you so much flexibility but a lot more suppliers to book and pay for. You’re going to need tables, chairs, linens, a bar service, caterers, décor etc on top of the usual suppliers.
So make sure you factor this in when comparing the price with other venues so you can compare like for like.
Do you want somewhere near to where you live or you happy to travel? And are you confident your guests will be happy to travel?
If so how far are you willing to travel?
If you have family spread across the country you may want to find somewhere quite central so everyone has to travel a similar distance.
Location may well also drive the type of location you have to choose from. For example, you’re a lot less likely to find an historic house with magnificent views in the middle of the city.
If you are going to travel to your venue then you probably need somewhere that has it’s own accommodation or there is accommodation nearby. You don’t really want to be hanging about for taxis at the end of the night and it’s also nice for people to have somewhere to get ready before the ceremony.
If you do choose somewhere with accommodation, check if there is a minimum number of rooms you have to book. Do your guests get a preferential rate? Will they hold the rooms for a period of time to allow your guests to get priority for your wedding date?
Do you want to be able to get married and hold your reception in one place? If so you need to look at venues which are licensed for civil ceremonies.
If you want to get married in church and then move on to your reception venue, then you need to consider how far you are happy for you and your guests to travel between the two.
Also consider the space the venue has for your guests. For example if the venue will need to change the set up in the ceremony room for it to become your reception room, where will your guests go while this is happening?
Wow – there’s so much to think about here. Ask for or download brochures from your preferred locations and then make a shortlist of the wedding venues you want to see. Read their reviews but don’t get too hung up with these – there are always some people who just insist on complaining about everything!
Make appointments to go and view them. I think it’s good to try and do them in quite a short space of time so they are fresh in your mind when you’re comparing them.
Whilst you do need to ensure that the venue meets your practical needs, and is in your budget, you will also get a ‘feeling’ from them all which will influence you heavily. Take note of this but be careful not to let that feeling destroy your budget!
I had to really make my head overrule my heart on this one as I fell in love with a castle when we were looking for our venue. It was totally impractical in a poor location and ridiculously expensive but I loved it. The place we chose was perfect though so no regrets!
While you’re there, make lots of notes, ask questions and take some photos. It will help you to remember the details when you sit down to make that big decision. Make sure you clearly understand their costs and get details of any packages which are available to you.
Finally, you might want to think about ways to make your wedding more sustainable, you can see a really detailed guide about this here. We all have a responsibility to do what we can.
You should also read my previous blog with questions to ask while you’re there. You can find it here
One of the services I offer is a wedding venue search so if this all sounds like too much to deal with, give me a shout. I’ll do the legwork for you and present you with a shortlist to consider based on your criteria. I can also accompany you on the visits to ensure you get a true comparison of them all.