Today I’m focussing on tips to help you decide where and when you will get married. Your wedding venue is likely to be the first major decision you make and the first thing that you book.
Realistically, you can’t book any suppliers until you know where and when you want them to work for you. So it’s important to prioritise the venue search.
Hopefully your browsing on Instagram and Pinterest means that your ideas about style of wedding and venue are starting to take shape. If you missed the 1st article where I talked about this, don’t worry, you can still read that here.
This may mean that you now have a clear view of what type of venue you want. But don’t worry if you don’t have this yet – when you’re only recently engaged it can take time to work out what you want. In this case, you might find that visiting a variety of venues helps you more, to at least help you work out what you don’t want.
Different styles of wedding and choosing venues
So firstly you need to think about the type of venue you want.
Do you want to get married in church, a registry office or to have a civil ceremony in a licensed venue?
If you want a religious service, then you need to be looking at churches. Civil ceremonies can’t have any reference to religion in them so the service is quite different.
For many years, your only alternative to a church wedding was to get married in your local registry office. This offers a civil ceremony (which is still a legal marriage.) You can see more info here about the legal process for getting married in the UK.
Now, however, you have much more choice as independent venues can apply for a marriage licence. There’s an ever increasing number of licensed venues which offer you a great variety of styles and sizes. Do your research in the area you want to get married in to find out what options you have.
If you choose to get married in church or a registry office, then you’ll need to choose a suitable venue for the wedding breakfast and party afterwards. Whereas a licensed venue is great if you want the whole day to be in one place with no travel required between ceremony and reception venue.
Request their info or download it from their website so you can understand more about their facilities. This enables you to do some immediate comparisons between various places.
This will also allow you to rule out some places – they may be too small, too big, too expensive etc. Hopefully then you can create a shortlist of potential venues which you can arrange to visit to get a better feel for them.
How to shortlist venues
There’s a lot to think about when choosing your wedding venue. It’s likely to be the most expensive element of your day so it’s definitely worth taking your time to get this right.
As well as the style of venue, you need to think about location, size, flexibility, accommodation, accessibility, costs. Maybe make a list of things your venue needs to have so you can check options against your list.
A good tip here is to separate your list into things the venue must have, things it should have and then things that you’d like but aren’t essential.
There’s more info on a previous blog with the top ten questions to ask potential venues.
How to determine when you will get married
You probably have a good idea now of which year you want to get married. This is likely to be driven by your budget and how long it will take you to save the money. (More info coming later in this series about setting and managing your budget.)
If you have a specific date or month that you want for your wedding date, this is likely to restrict your venue options, especially if it’s not too far away. Many venues are booked up for 12-18 months in advance, especially for Saturdays.
If it’s more about a specific venue for you, then you need to understand their availability. Then you can choose a suitable date from the options they have for you. It’s a good idea to check your calendar to make sure you’re not clashing with anything else in the family, like a close family member’s special birthday for example.
A clash of dates isn’t always a bad thing, for example, we got married on my niece’s birthday. I checked with her before we booked that she was okay with it and it actually meant she had a great day surrounded by her family.
But do make sure you check this out before committing to a date – you’d hate to book your venue and then find a number of your close friends or family couldn’t make it due to a previous commitment.
Number of guests
Your wedding venue is likely to have a maximum number of guests it can hold. So it’s a good idea to have a rough view of guest numbers before you shortlist your venues. I know when you’re recently engaged it can be difficult to know your guest list but it’s worth spending some time thinking this through at this stage.
Don’t waste your time looking at intimate venues if you’re likely to have a guest list of a few hundred people! Conversely you don’t want to have a small wedding party in a huge venue as you’ll lose the atmosphere and be rattling around in a vast space.
There’s more info about agreeing your guest list on one of my previous blogs which you can find here.
Marquee or Tipi?
If you’re thinking about a more individual venue, for example, if you want a tipi or marquee wedding, things are a bit more complex. You will need a suitable plot of land for the structure for starters. Marque and Tipi companies can often recommend suitable venues for you and you can see my favourite options in Yorkshire here.
Maybe you have friends or family with a large garden who would be happy for you to use the space. Tipi and marquee weddings give you much more flexibility on style and design as generally the starting point is an empty canvas structure. Remember though, you’ll have more to organise as you’ll need more suppliers, like toilets, furniture, linen, a bar, caterers etc. You can read a lot more about this type of wedding here.
For this type of wedding it’s definitely worth considering getting a wedding planner on board. The logistics of a marquee or tipi wedding can be quite challenging and as a minimum you will need help on the day to manage all the elements of the day.
If you’re really struggling with your venue search, this is something I can do for you with my Venue Search service. This is particularly helpful if you’re wanting to get married away from your home town. I can do the legwork on your behalf and create a shortlist for you to consider. Then I’ll accompany you on visits to the venues that you’re interested in. Please get in touch if this is something that would be beneficial to you.
I hope this has helped with shaping your thoughts on where and when you’ll tie the knot. Don’t forgot there’s more info on the website or you can get in touch if one to one planning help is sounding like a good option for you. You can find more info about my planning services here.
Remember there are another 3 blogs in this series for anyone who’s recently engaged to keep you on track with your wedding planning. In those I cover:
· What To Do When
· Wedding Budgets
· Tools & Tips
You can read the 3rd in the series here. And make sure you sign up to the blog below so you don’t miss any future blogs.
(updated and re-published 11th Jan 2023)