Picking a wedding venue can be a daunting experience. Your venue sets the tone for your entire wedding, and it’s a huge commitment in terms of cost. Speaking as someone who booked a venue then had a complete change of heart, the best advice I can give is to really do your research. What are you prepared to spend? What’s important to you in a venue? Have all of this in mind before you start looking, but be open to new suggestions as well.
Here are a few helpful things to bear in mind when making your decision:
- Are there any restrictions in terms of timing? What time can your evening reception run to? Does the music need to be turned down by a certain time? What time will you have the function room from in the morning?
- When you’re close to picking your venue and booking a date, make sure you speak to your local registrars first. Check availability and cost before you sign anything, and I would recommend that you book them before the venue.
- Find out exactly what’s included in the package. Be sure to ask about extra costs, such as a price per head for extra guests etc.
- If you want something quirky, like your cat to walk you down the aisle (believe it or not, a genuine request I had when I was a wedding coordinator!), make sure you discuss this before signing a contract. Make sure any special requests that the venue agrees to are written into your contract, in case your wedding coordinator leaves, or the management team changes.
- Maximum capacities. There’s no point falling in love with a small, cozy venue, if you want a huge wedding for 300 people.
- Don’t book anything without seeing the venue first. Pictures can look a lot different, and a good wedding coordinator will not press you to pay a deposit before you’ve had a face-to-face meeting.
- Do you like the staff? You will work closely with your wedding coordinator for several months, and the overall feel of the place will play a very big part in your enjoyment on the day. If you’re torn between two venues, why not book a meal at both and compare your experiences? Trust your gut with this one.
- Ask about the flow and layout of the day. For example, will the whole day take place in one function room? If so, how much time will be needed to transform the room between the ceremony and the wedding breakfast? This will influence how long (and where) your drinks reception will be, and it’s important to be realistic about this. Is there a private bar in your function room, or will guests have to go to the main bar? If any part of the day takes place outside, what is the contingency plan for rain?
- The best advice I can offer is to see as many venues as possible. Chances are you’ll find that they all offer similar things in terms of packages and prices, but seeing all your options will give you a very clear idea of what you want (and what you don’t).
- If you’re flexible on your date look into midweek and off-season discounts. Bear in mind that big dates (Valentine’s Day and NYE for example) will be a lot more expensive.
- Ask about fun little extras that will personalise your day, like having signature his ‘n’ hers cocktails on sale at the bar. Chances are the venue will be excited to try something new.
- Accommodation is an important one to think about. If your venue is a hotel, can they offer a group discount for some of your wedding guests? Is the bridal suite included in the package? Make sure you ask to see it as well. If your venue is not a hotel, look into nearby accommodation and check out prices.
- Make sure you factor transport into your budget if your wedding is taking place in more than one location. To travel from the ceremony to our reception we hired a coach for our guests, and asked a family member to drive us in his vintage VW camper van (which we decorated with bunting, and poly ribbon).
Please let me know in the comments if there’s anything I haven’t covered. I’m happy to answer any questions!