So, you have just got engaged! Now to find the perfect wedding venue!
The internet is a minefield and there is so much to consider. As a professional wedding planner, it is my job to guide and support couples on this journey.
CHOOSING YOUR VENUE
Choosing your perfect wedding venue is certainly one of the most difficult things on the planning ‘to do list’. However, arguably it is the most important. Once you have chosen your venue, so many of the other daunting projects will become easier and start falling into place.
Are you looking for a traditional church wedding? a lavish marquee? a blank canvas warehouse? a stately home or rustic barn? a modern manor house or a luxury city venue? Once this has been decided, your style will become more transparent. Your dress, décor, catering, transport and floral design will all link in to your chosen venue. This however, all adds to the pressure of finding the right one. Below are some tips to finding your perfect wedding venue.
After hours of online searching, you will start to gather a clearer picture of the costs of venues. I would wholeheartedly recommend being clear on your budget before visiting the venues. This is to prevent falling in love with a venue on a visit, discovering you can’t afford it and then no future venue visits will compare. Most venues will be more than happy to provide you with a quote via email before visiting.
As a planner, we provide a full budget creation. This helps to apportion your wedding elements, so you don’t blow your entire budget just on the venue. Lots of venues offer packages now, so you can tick an enormous amount of your costs off in that given price. Just be sure to note down everything else outside of those so they are not forgotten.
This is imperative when starting your venue search. All venues have a different capacity. These capacities can vary for the ceremony to the reception. We recommend your very first job is to sit down together and make a list of all those people you want to be there on your wedding day. Of course, this number will change once invites go out, but you need to know your rough number to decipher if a venue can accommodate your guests.
If you have large numbers, a marquee is a good choice. If you have plans for an intimate wedding, make sure you go for an intimate venue, so you maintain an atmosphere during all the parts of your day.
WEDDING PACKAGES! WHAT’S INCLUDED?
All venues price their hire differently. For some, it is just venue hire and you will source your caterers separately. Some venues have in-house or preferred caterers and have built this into their prices. Other venues insist on taking over the whole place including accommodation to ensure its exclusivity, whereas others create bespoke packages. Many venues insist upon their own drinks packages and some offer corkage. Make sure you are clear on what is included in the venues you are visiting, so you can compare prices before making your final decision.
Furthermore, some venues will provide tables, chairs, table linen, glassware, crockery and cutlery, whereas others will not. Some people prefer to source their own to fulfil their design ambitions. Just ensure you are on top of this reflecting in the cost, and that it is in line with your budget.
MAKE SEASONAL VISITS!
It is advisable to visit your venue at the same time of year that you plan to get married. If your ceremony is going to be outside in the summer for example, you will get a much clearer picture of how it will look on your wedding day if you go and visit in the summer the year before. The leaves on the trees, the flowers in bloom etc will all help to visualise your day and what further design you may want to bring. Equally, the same can be said for winter weddings. You can decide what further dressing you may want to do to external spaces such as fairly lights, candles and floral displays.
For the internal spaces, find out if the venue hold any open days. Normally at open days the venue dress the spaces as per a wedding day making it much easier to visualise. Also, often many suppliers are present at open days, so you can discuss with them what they can do to enhance your design.
FOOD GLORIOUS FOOD!
Some venues will allow you to bring in your own caterers. Whereas others will require you to use either their preferred or in-house caterers. Your wedding food will not only be talked about long after the day has finished by your guests (if it was good or bad) but it can really define your wedding style. If you are foodies, then you may opt for fine dining and a more traditional sit-down wedding breakfast, whereas other options can be more suited to your personalities or cultures. Make sure you ask to see sample menus. Better still, some venues offer tasting sessions prior to commitment, meaning you can be thoroughly satisfied before booking. You can also use the wonderful web to search for reviews, which will help your decision making.
LOCATION & ACCOMMODATION!
Whilst we always say to couples that it is YOUR day and make sure you choose what you want, we do advise slightly softening that approach when it comes to the location of your perfect wedding venue. Ultimately, if you want certain people there, then it needs to be achievable. For example, if you cannot image your wedding day without your elderly grandparents there, yet you fancy a venue requiring a flight, train, boat and cab ride to get there, it may not happen.
Another element to consider is does the venue have any accommodation either onsite or nearby? and is there a variety of price ranges to suit your guests? Your guests are so important in making your wedding the day it should be, so do think about them in your decision-making process.
Are you bound to using a venue’s preferred suppliers? It can be very reassuring to use a venues preferred supplier, minimising any risk factor. However, it does put a slight hold on your creativity if you have ideas outside of their remit.
Some venues will accept a payment to allow you to use your chosen florist or photographer that are not on their list, but this is not the case for all venues. So, if you have your heart set on a certain supplier, I recommend checking this out with the venue before booking.
Everyone has their own ideas to make their dream day and yet venues all have their own rules about what they will and will not allow. Some venues are restricted by neighbours or cattle for noise levels, some allow confetti, others don’t. Many allow alcoholic favours, others don’t. Some allow certain cultural additions and others wont if it prevents a revenue stream. So, do be sure to check with the venue if you have any specific ideas for your wedding. This will all play a part in the decision-making process.
Many venues are bound by licenses and must ensure music is switched off and last orders at the bar are ordered by 11:30pm. We regularly advise our clients that this is often sufficient for most, as it is a very long and emotional day. However, if you have your heart set on an all nighter, this will certainly narrow down your venue search and needs to be factored in.
Some venues will allow a slightly extended finish time for a fee. So, if you fancied this, don’t forget to add this to your budget and ensure all expectations have been discussed with the venue before committing.
LISTEN TO YOUR HEART!
Perhaps more importantly than all the above is simply do you love it? Did you get that feeling? We regularly say to our clients, you knew when you found the house you live in. You knew when you met each other. So, you will just know if the venue is the right one! Trust your instinct. Provided it fits with the budget, if you get that feeling when you visit, then it’s the perfect wedding venue for you!
Images: Image 1: Laurene and the wolf //Image 2: Pippa Mackenzie Photography //Image 3: Casa De Perrin // Image 4: Ann-Kathrin Koch // Image 5: Shai shachar Photography// Image 6: Xander and Thea// Image 7: Mikkel Paige Photography// Image 8: Helled Roberts Photography //