Finding the right wedding venue is often at the top of the list when you start the wedding planning process. Venues get booked early and finding the right one for you when there are simply so many can feel like a bit of a minefield! There is a lot to think about and many considerations and decisions to be made, so to make your life easier, we’ve provided our tips on how to pick your wedding venue (and be happy with it!)
Remember, above all else, that you have a vision for your big day. Whether it be something you conjured up long before you were engaged or have recently seen and decided to make your own, there is very likely to be something in your head, some image, of how you want your day to look, feel and go.
When it comes to shortlisting venues, it can be easy to become side-tracked into other options because they’re easier or less for you to think about – if you genuinely fall in love with something, hell, we’re not going to stop you! But remember to stick to your guns.
OK – pep talk out of the way (we just can’t help it), let’s talk about the finer details and practicalities of how to pick your wedding venue.
The practical bits
First, can the venue accommodate you? Don’t visit it if it can’t. There is a reason bridal shops only show you dresses within your specified budget – venues are no different.
Before you arrange a wedding venue tour, create a strict criterion. Check that the venue is available on your chosen date, in the budget, that it has capacity for your guest list, the right facilities (e.g. do you need accommodation?), table setup, whatever is important to you. You must know your non-negotiables before you shortlist to ensure that you don’t miss any details which are important to you later. Only once you’ve ticked these boxes off in your research should you visit.
If you’ve dreamt about having your guests on long tables and your venue can’t facilitate it (or hire in), don’t even visit. If there are things you’re a bit more chill about – long tables would be nice, but I’m not opposed to round – then try it out and see where the wind takes you. But the point is, don’t compromise on the things you really care about.
Have a look at the packages available and whether you’ll need to source your own catering, alcohol, music, and the like. You might find that a venue’s initial fee looks way out of budget, but if it includes catering, chances are it’ll save you both time and money.
It also helps to have an idea of the food you’d like to provide – it doesn’t have to be exact, but if you know you definitely want to provide sharing food and your shortlisted venues and their preferred or in-house caterers only provide fine dining, it’s probably not the place for you.
eve tip: Ask venues about corkage. Some venues will charge a ‘corkage fee’ for opening and serving alcohol which they have not provided – and it can add up!
The options are one thing (back to the accommodation again), but it’s also important to think about the general usage of the venue for you and your guests. Will anyone be seated near the toilets? What are they like? Where is the kitchen? Where is staff access?
It’s often easier to get an idea of these things when you visit, but if you’ve shortlisted a potential venue and go on a tour, check out the loos. Trust us.
Venue style and theming
Wedding venues all offer something different in terms of look and feel, even the most traditional spaces. Having an idea of what you want is really important here, otherwise, your shortlisting process is going to be tricky! Being able to shortlist and filter based on the type of day you want – grandeur, modern, outside, casual, black tie – will save you heaps of time at this stage.
eve tip: When you’re considering the style and theming that you’re after, don’t forget to look at lighting. If you’re desperate to have candles lighting up the aisle or on tables over dinner, you’ll need to know that this is possible. Many venues (particularly historic ones) won’t allow you to have an open flame on-site, but you might be able to use battery-powered ones.
Location and transport
So, you’ve got the essentials nailed and you know what kind of venue you want – now you need to think about where.
If you’re having your ceremony and reception in two different places, think about the journey between the two for you and your guests and the transport options available. If you’re choosing a country house out in the sticks, you’ll need to think about how your guests will get there – do you need to put on transport? Are their taxi companies nearby? If you’re choosing a wedding venue in London or another well-connected city or town, this may be easier for you – but it’s a good idea to think about the journey for you and your guests: how long it will take, what transport options there are and how people will get home at the end of the night.
For more tips on planning a wedding or to speak to an event management expert about how to pick your wedding venue, create your shortlist and ensure you have the day you’re hoping for, get in touch!