Perhaps THE key decision you must make besides what style of wedding dress you will wear must be where you as a couple choose to get married. With the plethora of venue choices now open to a bride and groom, it is also one of the hardest decisions of your wedding planning tasks to complete.
Of course, when I got married over 15 years ago, the choice was a more simple one. A couple chose a hotel close to their church of choice, with easy access for their wedding guests. Now with many venues giving the option to host your wedding breakfast in the very place you also say your wedding vows, the choices are limitless. This of course can be overwhelming.
Whittling down your potentials into a chosen ‘Top Five’ will be essential if you are to make an informed decision.
Three key elements you really need to have a handle on before commencing your venue search are:
It’s All in the Numbers
How big or small do you envisage your wedding reception to be? Without an estimated head count, the task of choosing a suitably sized venue will be nigh impossible.
Deciding on how much you can afford to pay out, alongside the numbers you wish to invite before beginning your search will help to establish the venues you can include in your consideration. Remember, with the popularity of weekend weddings, considerable savings can be made by choosing to host your wedding on an alternate weekday instead. Remember however, this may limit the number of your prospective guests who can attend.
For some great money saving tips and expert advice on how not to ‘splash the cash’, read this fab blog post on Martin Lewis’ Money Saving Expert site.
The Look Book
Deciding on the look and style for your wedding from the very beginning of your planning will also help to narrow down your choices significantly. An industrial-luxe wedding in a converted warehouse space or Victorian Baths for example will set your venue search on a very different path than if you are edging towards a more traditional, English country garden themed wedding set in a beautiful historic house.
To begin with it may help to gather ideas and different styles via an online style guide such as Pinterest. Make a Look Book of what style appeals to you most – industrial and edgy, romantic and feminine, traditional and luxurious or country vintage and boho for example and the types of venues that will suit each individual style. This will then help you in defining the types of venues to research online and go on to visit in person.
When you have your shortlist, there are several important considerations to explore with each venue:
- Wedding Packages? Does the venue offer a choice of Wedding Packages at set prices or is price based on cost per person? What does each package include? For example, does the Wedding Package include certain wedding décor such as a led dancefloor, uplighters, table and chair linen or do you need to sort your own through outside suppliers?
- Are there any access issues to consider? What is the locality of the venue for local motorway or travel networks? Does the hotel cater for any disabled guests adequately?
- Lighting – Does your venue have adequate lighting – both for the day and through to the nighttime? Will you need to hire in additional lighting to supplement the venue’s own?
- Wedding Planning? Does your venue offer a dedicated Wedding Planner who will be your key point of contact throughout the lead up to the day and on the day itself?
- All Weather Plans – does the venue have a Plan B in the case of bad weather?
- It’s All in the Detail – Remember to check out the finer details as these all add up to leave a lasting impression for your guests. I always think the class of a place is best seen in the condition of its public bathrooms. Make sure you check out little details such as this – cleanliness, décor and the provision of handy travel sized toiletries is always a thoughtful touch.
- Reception – The ease of using the Reception Desk – how your guests will be treated upon their arrival is an important consideration to think of.
- Communal Spaces – are there ample spaces for your guests to relax in prior to and following your wedding. Communal spaces around a central reception area or open fire always work well.
- Parking – does your venue offer ample parking spaces for your guests or if taking place in a city centre location, does your venue offer discounts off nearby multi-storey carparks?
Remember to make detailed notes of your initial research and first visits to potential contenders – jot down the key points – likes and dislikes, fors and againsts for each venue you visit. This will help you considerably when you next revisit the information to help you decide which venues you would like to see again and consider more seriously. When you have found ‘the one’ secure your booking with the required deposit and set calendar reminders for your key payment dates to ensure you keep on track with your wedding budget deadlines.