How to choose your wedding venue is one of the key decisions in planning your wedding. It is the cornerstone of your special day. It is an integral part of your wedding design, or, it can be the design itself.
Either way, it’s one of the first decisions you will make on your wedding journey. So here are my hints and tips on how to choose the right wedding venue for you.
Photo courtesy of Donington Hall (www.doningtonhall.com) taken by Lumiere Photography (www.lumiere-photography.co.uk)
Initial wedding venue questons
There are a couple of areas you will both have to agree on before you select your wedding venue.
How many guests?
A small intimate affair, or, a larger, all singing & all dancing, wedding? There is no point looking at 250 people capacity venues if you are only intending to have 50 people.
You need to fill a venue comfortably. You don’t want to be squeezed in or battling to get out from the table. At the same time you don’t want loads of idle space. Its a delicate balance.
I know on my wedding day the location was pre-determined as it was close to the largest family. This reduced travelling time and hotel costs for them. Bear in mind where the people you really want at your wedding live as this can be a factor.
Country barn v industrial buildings, city centre venue v country manor house, marquee or tipi, or a totally different quirky venue. You need to have a high level view of your wedding style before you start.
Photo courtesy of Donington Hall (www.doningtonhall.com) taken by Newton Photography (www.newtonphotography.co.uk)
Photo courtesy of Harts Hotel, Nottingham (www.hartsnottingham.co.uk) taken by Jay Glenn Photography (www.jayglennphotography.com)
wedding Venue visits
Now for the all-important wedding venue visits. Make a shortlist of selected venues and book appointments to get shown around.
Always see your venue made up for a wedding. It’s amazing how different they can look when they are all decorated. This is where venue open days are useful (though if they are busy you might not get much time with the venue co-ordinator). Think about penciling in your preferred wedding date to give you time to book a follow up visit – you can normally do this for up to 2 weeks with no charge.
When you are going around your potential wedding venue imagine how the day will work. For example, from the initial ceremony (if on site) to the wedding breakfast to the evening reception.
Think carefully about where people will be between stages. For example, if the main room needs to be reset to move from the wedding breakfast to the evening reception where will people go? How will you keep them entertained?
I always recommend seeing more than one venue – even when you think you have found your ideal one. It will give you a valuable comparison and will ratify your decision.
Photo courtesy of the National Space Centre, Leicester (www.spacecentre.co.uk)
YOUR WEDDING VENUE CHECKLIST
We’ve pulled together the main questions to ask your wedding venue during your visits
- Who will be your venue co-ordinator? Meet them in person in advance – it’s not always the person who shows you around
- What’s included in the price? Make sure you understand this to compare your venues. Consider things like table linen, centrepieces and even the cake stand/knife
- Room capacity – day and evening (if applicable)
- What time are they licensed until?
- Understand what time you can you get access to the venue and what time do you have to depart. This impacts on set up and take down times.
- Does your venue have accommodation options nearby – is it onsite or offsite? – is there a discounted rate for wedding guests? Can they hold a block booking for you? Try and take a look at any on-site accommodation to check its suitable, especially if you have guests with special requirements.
- Are there any wet weather options? See our blog for more on this area
- Understand the catering options – is there a tasting day you can attend to help make up your mind? Can they cope with dietary requirements and/or children?
- Are there any corkage charges if you want to bring your own drinks?
- Are there any disabled facilities?
- What are the cancellation charges? I know this is something you won’t even want to consider but it’s important to understand in case the unexpected happens.
- Do they allow fireworks (if this is something you are considering)?
It’s always worth grabbing a venues preferred supplier list but please bear in mind that often the supplier will have paid to be on the list, or, they pay the venue back a commission for each referral.
You should always look around at all suppliers in your area to make sure you are getting the best possible (and paying the right price). Wedding planners, like the team here at ‘that black & white cat’, offer a service to source the very best reliable wedding suppliers for you.