Happy New Year all!
So you’ve just got engaged – congratulations! But what next?! The initial stages of wedding planning can be quite a minefield; there is much to discuss, decide on and think about and these early stages can be quite overwhelming.
The best place to start is your preferred wedding date(s), and then begin finding a wedding venue. Whilst it can be very tempting to plot your colour scheme and start looking at bridal gowns, choosing your date and venue can help all this fall into place much more easily.
Your choice of date is very important; it’ll help you determine the season and likely weather (if such a thing is at all possible!), it may impact the prices you’ll pay to your venue and suppliers and will also give you a deadline to work to so that you can ensure you have everything planned and in place on time. If possible, it is a good idea to try to settle on a couple of dates within a particular time frame that work for you; there is nothing more disappointing than finding a wedding venue that ticks every box, only to find your favoured date has already been taken and it’s back to the drawing board.
Once you have date(s) in mind, it’s time to consider your type of venue. This is where you’re spoilt for choice and in my opinion, this can be one of the most difficult decisions to make in planning a wedding. Finding a wedding venue that suits your theme, accommodates all your guests, is attractive and works well for the wedding you desire can be difficult to achieve, and you may need to go in with an open mind and be willing to make some compromises. Guides for Brides provide a detailed insight and easy to use system to find wedding venues in your preferred location, and websites such as Hitched allow you to filter your search by venue type which can make your search that bit easier.
Start with making a list of ‘deal-breakers’. What does your wedding venue absolutely need to have in order to provide you with the wedding day of your dreams? You might want to consider:
- Location; proximity to your home or where you are getting ready, distance from the church/registry office if applicable and the approximate journey time for your guests
- Accommodation – whether the venue provides its own rooms on-site or if there are suitable options nearby
- Suitable outdoor/indoor space; you might want an outdoor ceremony and therefore attractive outside space is essential, or you might have a large number of guests to accommodate, in which case finding a wedding venue that will fit them in comfortably is key
- Dry hire or full service; depending on the amount of work you want to put into your wedding day, finding a wedding venue that provides a full service (in house wedding team, wedding coordinator, catering team, etc) or a venue that lets you simply hire the blank canvas and do the rest yourself is important. You’ll need to ensure you can have full trust in your chosen venue if you are relying on them to take care of your big day, or that you take on trustworthy and reliable suppliers should you opt for dry hire.
- The weather; come rain or shine your wedding day weather is left in the hands of the Gods, so don’t opt for an outdoor do and ‘hope for the best’ – ensure contingencies are in place and your venue has an alternative option should bad weather prevail. This is also relevant to particularly hot weather; should the sun beat down on your big day, people will still head for shade!
When you begin your venue tours after whittling down your possibilities, my advice is to be as detailed as possible. Like trying on wedding gowns; after you’ve seen too many they can all merge into one and it is hard to remember what you liked about one venue from the next! Take notes, take photographs, and ask as many questions as you can of the venue to ensure you are confident, comfortable and have all the information you need to make an informed decision. Your venue will be one of the highest costs within your wedding budget, and finding a wedding venue that is right and that you feel 100% happy with is key.
You’ll have your own specific questions relating to the wedding you want that you’ll need to ask the Wedding Co-ordinator or Venue Manager. However, to assist you in compiling your list, you might want to consider asking some of the following:
Is your preferred date available?
What are the midweek options and is price affected by this?
What is the maximum number of guests allowed on site?
Are children welcome?
Are there provisions for children such as high chairs, space to leave pushchairs, baby changing facilities, private room for feeding, etc.
What is access to the venue like? Is it suitable for young children, elderly, wheelchairs and pushchairs?
Is the area safe for children – are they confined or is it possible for them to get elsewhere?
What are the payment terms? What deposit is required to secure the date?
Do they have a list of recommended suppliers?
Are they able to cater for a range of dietary needs?
Is there a private room for the Bride to get ready/bride and groom to freshen up throughout the day?
Is there a secure space available to store guest belongings and presents?
Does the venue hold a Premises Licence? Do they supply all beverages? Is there an option to supply your own? If so, is there a corkage charge?
Where is the ceremony conducted?
How well does the venue flow from guest arrival, through to ceremony, arrival drinks/canapes, followed by reception? Where are guests based whilst rooms are being set up?
Does the venue supply all equipment such as chairs, tables, tablecloths, cutlery, crockery, etc or does this need to be hired in?
Do they have additional decor such as chair covers on site or are these outsourced?
What is the wet weather provision? Is it adequate/comfortable for the number of guests?
Is there an on-site Wedding Coordinator who will be available via email and telephone throughout the planning process? Will they also coordinate the wedding day?
What is the cancellation/postponement policy?
Are parking facilities available? If so how many?
What is the taxi provision like? How far is the venue from the nearest area of accommodation and how much are taxis likely to cost?
What time can the wedding finish?
Are members of the public allowed on site or are weddings fully private events?
What are the bar drinks prices like?
Are there packages to choose from at certain prices? If so what is included? Can certain things be exchanged for others (e.g. Cheaper arrival drinks to bring costs down, etc)
Check restrooms – are they clean, tidy and well maintained?
Whereabouts does the DJ or band set up? Is there adequate room and access to power?
Does the venue require proof of PAT tested appliances and Public Liability Insurance certificates from suppliers?
What are the rules on amplified music indoors/outdoors and timings?
Finding a wedding venue can be time consuming and hard work, but once you’ve made your choice the rest of your planning can start – and that’s where the fun begins!!
How are you going about finding your wedding venue? I’d love to hear your stories and more about your venue choices!