Wedding venue selection
The complete guide on how to make choosing your venue a pain-free experience!
Wedding venue selection can be incredibly difficult, it is one of the areas of wedding planning which causes a lot of stress for couples who are getting married. There are so many things to consider, location, budget, look and feel, whether the venue is too big or too small not to mention whether both parties agree that they like it! Sometimes, the location of the wedding venue is dictated by the place in which you want to marry or by a venue which holds a special place in your heart already. In our blog we are going to talk about a few things that you might not have considered when choosing your wedding venue. Hopefully we can help direct your thoughts in order to make the final choice easier.
Date and budget
If you are absolutely fixed on a particular date for your wedding ceremony, it makes sense to start your search early. Many venues open their diaries for bookings up to three years in advance. If you are planning a long engagement, the choice of venues available to you is definitely going to be larger. The best place to start is by making a list of venues you’ve seen and liked the look of. This can be done with a quick Google search or on recommendations from people you know. Then, you simply need to make a few calls to check availability. Once you know that a place is available on your chosen date, you can start gathering wedding brochures to browse through. You can then start the task of working out whether they fit your budget. A simple way to do this is to ask ‘how much is an average wedding for 100 guests at your venue’ That way you can see at a quick glance whether it’s worth going to view the space. If you’re flexible with dates you are likely to have plenty of choice too. If you have a dream venue but it isn’t available on your date, or you can’t afford it, consider scheduling your wedding for an off-peak time, perhaps in a less popular month or during the week rather than at a weekend. There’ll be less competition for venues and you may find that the prices are more reasonable.
Style and theme
It’s a good idea to put some thought into the type of wedding you’d like before you start your venue search. Think about whether you want a formal or informal wedding, whether it’s likely to be small and intimate or an all-out party for the masses. Are you looking for a vintage, afternoon tea style wedding or a traditional sit-down meal? By identifying the important elements, you will quickly narrow down the venues that make it on to your shortlist. You should also consider how ‘hands-on’ you’d like to be. Having a wedding in a dry-hire venue can give you huge flexibility over how it is ultimately styled. However, decorating a venue like this from scratch is a huge under-taking, often far more than you could ever anticipate if you don’t have experience. You may find that you end up having to find extra money within the budget to hire a venue decorator so it’s important to identify that right at the start of your planning.
Comfort of your guests
Of course, your wedding is your special day and you should have everything just as you like it. However, some thought should be given to your guests comfort otherwise you may find your guestlist is a little on the light side. Create a rough guest list and consider any accessibility requirements. Check the venue has adequate parking or research to see if a town centre venue has suggestions for parking facilities in the area. If you have guests travelling from far away, check your venue can accommodate them overnight or look for hotels (catering for every budget) in the area. If you have guests with specific dietary requirements, discuss these with your preferred venue early on so they can be incorporated into the menu. With enough notice, it’s possible to offer a menu on the day which caters for every possible dietary requirement. It can be gluten and dairy free, vegan and most importantly, completely delicious! It is also worth considering the distance between the ceremony and reception venues. Anything over an hour’s drive away from each other is generally difficult to manage on the day.
Does the venue offer all the essentials?
Many venues offer a fully-inclusive package where the food, drinks, tables, chairs and function room hire are included in the price. However, some do not and it’s critical that you know what your price includes right from the start. Whether you are going to serve a full four-course meal, a buffet or BBQ, you need to know if the venue you are looking at has an in-house catering service. If they do, can they provide you with menu options to suit your guests, including vegetarians, gluten-intolerant guests or those with religious food requirements. Do note, not all in-house caterers are employed by the venue. Sometimes it’s possible to bring your own caterers into a venue even when it looks on the surface that the venue offers catering in-house. If you are looking at a venue that does not have an in-house catering service all all, you will need to look for a caterer. Pricing up this type of service can be challenging. Caterers tend not to routinely provide prices for everything you need within their quotes. Check that the price they give includes plates, cutlery etc and check who is responsible for laying the tables. When choosing your venue, don’t assume everything you see in the brochure images is included. While most venues will provide chairs and tables, extra costs may be involved when it comes to dancefloors, chair covers, cutlery and glasses as well as table decorations and linen. Be sure to ask what is included and what you must source yourself. If you have a particular theme and the venue doesn’t have table linen in your chosen colours, ask them if you can supply your own. Not all venues allow this.
Wedding venues often have a list of preferred suppliers who they like to work with. There are two sides to this. Firstly, it can be reassuring to book suppliers for a list as generally they are tried and tested. The venue will have worked with them before and they’ll have done a good job. However, sometimes, the venue may have a vested interest in suggesting a supplier as they’ll be given a commission for the referral. It’s worth checking this out. Some venues, especially listed buildings or museums, will insist you only book suppliers from their allowed supplier list. This is often due to the need for suppliers working in this type of venue having to hold a particular type of insurance or being risk assessed. If you know you want to use a specific supplier of your own choosing, it’s worth asking your preferred venue about any rules they have, before you hand over your deposit. If you follow the steps above, you will be left with a shortlist of venues which fit your budget, can host you on your chosen date and which include everything you need on the day. Now comes the fun bit – deciding which you like the best!
Sometimes this is simple and you and your partner will agree straight away. Sometimes a little negotiation might be required before you come to your final decision. If you’re struggling, ask a family member or trusted friend to help you decide. If all this fails, then this is the time to bring in the big guns… your wedding planner! Often they will be able to help take the emotion out of your decision and help to define the important elements of the venue. If the venue you want has challenges which you can’t see past, your wedding planner will be able to suggest creative ways around them. Many couples choose to involve their wedding planner right for the start as this can cut out unnecessary venue viewing. Whichever route you choose when selecting your wedding venue, the main thing is to enjoy the journey… and the coffee and cake you will be offered on your venue visits!
Are you struggling with venue selection? We are happy to give our personal experiences of venues we have visited, feel free to leave a comment or contact us.
… If you liked Wedding venue selection you could also read Where should I get married