Choosing a wedding venue is a chicken and egg affair, you’ve got to book your venue before you can start confirming just about anything else. Most of the time venues are very helpful, after all they are in the hospitality business. It is a big decision, and probably the biggest expense whilst planning your wedding, so below are a few tips to make the decision a little easier.
Set your budget
Ultimately your budget will dictate if you can have your reception at Buckingham Palace or The Buckingham Pub. Set a budget for your wedding and decide when you want to get married. If you are saving, be realistic and work out how long it will take you to save. Don’t forget to factor in other expenses such as christmas, birthdays and perhaps a small holiday. Also factor in a bit extra as your initial budget won’t be exact.
Make a list of your family and friends that you want to invite. You’ll need the numbers for the daytime ceremony/wedding breakfast and the evening reception to give your venue. A great tip with the evening reception, if you are offering a buffet-style meal, is to cater for slightly less people you are expecting. It’s a great cost saving and most of your new arrivals will have already eaten already.
Multiple venues or all under one roof?
What sort of wedding to you want? Are you getting married in church and then on to the venue, or do you want to have the whole day at a licensed venue? Not all venues are licensed for weddings so check with the venue or your local registry office.
Choosing the date
Prepare be open minded about the date at this stage. If you are wanting to get married in church, you’ll need to check the dates available there first – there’s no point booking the reception if you can’t actually get married! You might find that your favoured venues are unavailable on your first choice days, in which case consider another day of the week or another time of year. Fridays can be great days to get married and get the venue you want – and it can be cheaper than the traditional Saturday.
Avoid big events or embrace them
Getting married on the same day as a major sporting or cultural event might sound like a good idea, but it could distract your guests (who might want to be elsewhere). That said, you could embrace the day and make it part of your theme.
Research venues – all of them!
You might have your heart set on your perfect wedding venue, but take time to consider all venues in your area (and further afield). You might have enjoyed the day of one of your bridesmaids at the big castle, but you might find YOUR perfect venue elsewhere. One great tip is to check with your local registry office for all premises licensed for weddings – you might even find a few surprises!
Once you have your shortlist (or long list) of your top venues, contact them and check their availability before you visit. It’s pointless arranging a meeting only to be told they don’t have availability.
First come first served
All wedding venues and vendors work on a first come first served basis – and they’ll only confirm a date once you sign on the dotted line and pay your deposit. Once you’ve made your decision, make sure everything is confirmed in writing.
Visiting the venue
I could write a post entirely about looking around a venue, but here’s a quick list.
- First impressions, look round the venue before you meet the coordinator
- Visit all the rooms you will be using, ceremony room, reception dining, bar areas.
- Will you have exclusive use of the whole venue? If not, which areas will you be sharing with other guests?
- Will the coordinator be on-hand all day?
- What are the exterior spaces like? Gardens, patio areas, and what happens if it rains? Are there any covered external areas?
- Check out a guest room as well as the bridal suite
- Does the venue seem very regimented in what it is offering, or are you able to change things to how you want them?
- Excuse yourself and check out the toilets, ok not the most romantic thing to do, but it can be a great barometer of the hotel standards and upkeep.
- Make sure you get an itemized list of exactly what’s included in the price. Be mindful of extra charges such as the knife for cutting the cake, corkage on any champagne your guests bring you (including the bottle of fizz your bridesmaids bring for getting ready in the morning), chair ribbons and even charges for clearing up confetti.
- Venues offering discount prices such as “£2017 Wedding Package” – have understandably stripped out a lot of services to get to this price. This may be a good starting point to then start adding the features you need, but fully expect extras on this initial ‘all inclusive’ price.
- Ask if the venue can recommend services such as florists and if they are able to provide entertainment such as a DJ, live bands or an MC.
- Ask to see a typical schedule of the day for that venue, and how flexible they are if you wish to change any timings.
- You also need to ask if the price you are quoted is final. Some venues reserve the right to increase their prices
- Does the hotel have any restrictions? Can you throw confetti?; Does the disco have to stop at midnight? Can you use fireworks?
- Never sign anything on the day, make your decision away from the venue.
If you are getting married at the venue, you’ll need to check with your local registry office that they will have a registrar available to perform the ceremony. Again this is a first come first served service and you might have to change your timings accordingly. Also don’t forget to factor them in as a cost (about £400, but prices vary)
Look after your guests
We all like the idea of a remote undisturbed wedding in the middle of nowhere, but you have to consider your guests. How will they get to the wedding? If you are getting married at a church how will the get from there to the reception? Is there local accommodation if the wedding venue gets full? Do any of your guests need disabled access? If you have guests with children, they may prefer accommodation with family rooms. Is there a reliable local taxi service to help guests get to their accommodation? It’s a good idea to provide all this information when you send out the invites.
Deposit and payments
Once you have made your decision and confirmed the date, you will need to pay the deposit to the hotel. One idea is to pay this on a credit card – for the free insurance (check your card’s terms and conditions). Check also that the price is final – some venues reserve the right to increase their fee if their costs increase. Finally you’ll need to find out from the venue when they require final payment.
That’s it, all done, you’ve got your wedding venue. You’ll also now have your wedding date from which you can now start booking photographers, florists and other suppliers. Choosing your perfect venue isn’t easy but I hope you’ve found the tips above useful and informative. Go with your heart, but only after you’ve checked everything!