Are you planning your wedding and struggling to find the perfect wedding venue? Are you worried about making a decision in case there is a better wedding venue that you have not yet seen? Don’t worry, this is normal. Your wedding day is likely to be the most important day of your life so far, and of course you want to ensure that it is absolutely perfect.
This step by step guide to choosing your wedding venue is designed to help you navigate your way through the process. Of course, if you still find it too overwhelming, our advice would be to consult with a wedding planner, who is trained to work out from talking to the two of you just what type of venue you would love and then find the ideal venue for you.
However, let’s assume for now that you are doing the groundwork yourselves and if you really want to make sure that you that you choose the BEST venue for you, approach the search in several stages:
Brainstorm; sit down with your partner and write down all of the things that you want your venue to be or to have; and all the things you don’t want it to be. Ultimately, you are trying to agree the style of venue that you would like for your wedding…… is it a barn or a grand stately home or a hotel or a warehouse. In addition there are lots of logistical questions that you need to consider:
- How many guests are you looking to invite
- Does it need to have outdoor space?
- Does it need to have on-site accommodation
- How many different indoor spaces would you like it to have
- Are you looking for an exclusive use venue or would a hotel work better for you
- Where will you marry – at the venue or elsewhere
The next step is to undertake an internet search to find venues that fit your brief. You could spend hours on this if you allow yourself, but my advice is to fairly quickly come up with a shortlist of just six and arrange to visit a few of them. Generally, whilst the venues would hate me for saying this, I always advise my couples not to visit venues when they have open days as you rarely see them at their best, and the venue manager is unlikely to have sufficient time to spend answering your questions or even showing you around. Instead, make an appointment to see each venue on your own.
It is rare (but not unheard of) on these initial venue visits that you will find your dream venue, but it is a valuable exercise to go through as it helps to clarify in your minds exactly what you do and don’t want. I often find that couples have a particular style of venue in mind, but once they have visited two or three of this type of venue they realise they need to re-visit stage 1.
So, stage 3 is going back to basics, reviewing the initial brief, amending where necessary, re-drafting from scratch if appropriate, but essentially coming up with a more defined specification.
Online venue searching again, but this time you should find that your approach is much more focused and generally I would expect you to come across two or three seemingly ideal venues which appear to completely match with your brief. Now, you know what I am going to say next…. make appointments to visit and this time go armed with a checklist of things to look out for and establish about the venue. I have a document which I give to my clients; in summary it tells them to consider:
- Gut instinct….. you will most probably fall in love with your venue immediately you see it for the first time….. you do then need to check that it works for the wedding you are planning
- Capacities – confirm the maximum number of guests it can accommodate… too small and you won’t be able to invite everyone that you want to, too large and your wedding will lack atmosphere
- Wedding ceremony arrangements… is it licensed for civil ceremonies, is there a place of worship nearby…. Ask the questions relevant to the type of ceremony you have in mind
- Think about how the venue spaces will be used; where will your drinks reception take place, your wedding breakfast, your evening party
- Ask about the hire terms, catering arrangements, recommended suppliers and general logistics
In most cases, my couples find their dream venue by the end of stage 4, having visited a maximum of probably no more than 6 venues. If you don’t, I advise that you continue to refine and research.
What I suggest that you don’t do is just keep visiting venue after venue; you will become totally confused and find it really difficult to make a decision. Try to remember that here in the UK there are thousands and thousands of wedding venues. Whilst each one is unique in at least some ways, it is equally fair to say that if you were to view every single available venue that fits your brief, you will undoubtedly find more than one that you love. It is extremely unlikely that there is just one venue for you. So, once you have found one that you love, fits your brief, works logistically and in budget terms, book it…. before someone else does.
For further advice on choosing your wedding venue, or on any other aspect of wedding planning (or if you would like a copy of my venue checklist) , contact me here or via email at email@example.com or by telephone on + 44 7734 976459.