How to choose your wedding venue
When planning your special day there are so many elements to consider. I have created a helpful guide on how to choose your wedding venue, which is most likely the first point of call on the wedding to-do-list! So whether you’re dreaming of a rustic barn, manor house, beach, or a romantic garden. This blog will let you explore how to find a wedding venue that will make your special day truly unforgettable!
Your wedding date plays a huge role in determining wedding venue options. The season can have a big impact on your budget as the pricing of a wedding venue will vary depending on the time of year you choose to marry. Prices during low season are often much less expensive, while booking a venue in a high season month (between May and September) could cost you more.
Are you planning a spring or summer wedding? If so, would you consider your ideal venue having a beautiful outdoor ceremony space? Maybe a beautiful garden or a terrace? Do have a contingency plan incase of rain though!! Some venues are solely designed as an outdoor space and are stunning for it, but my concern would be the “what if”. Is it a risk you want to take?
Or is a winter wedding is more your thing? Then a rustic barn or manor house with a twinkling christmas tree, fire pits and cosy interiors might be exactly what you’re looking for. It’s always worth googling the venues you’re earmarking to see images during different seasons. What looks warm and inviting in the winter may look cold and stark in the summer. If that’s got you thinking, I’ve another post about winter wedding inspo over here….
If you are planning to get married between May and September then it is also a good idea to start looking for venues as early as possible. This period is when wedding venues are in high demand, meaning that it could be difficult to find one that both matches your budget, and wedding vision. Looking early is also important because you don’t want to fall in love with your dream venue only to find out they’re fully booked for the next 12 months. Wedding venues can get booked a year or more in advance.
Civil or religious ceremony
This is a very important factor to consider… For churches and other places of worship, there may be rules regarding how you have access to that building for the ceremony. Perhaps you or your family may have to be members, or attend regularly. Or is there a parish connection? Some churches require bans to be read and a certain number of services you should attend in the lead up. Some have a limited number of weddings per year, some have restricted access to other providers (musicians, photographers, videographers etc) that may be in conflict with aspects you would also like on the day. Some places of worship have very clear definitions of how their wedding ceremonies are conducted, and others are more fluid and open to the less traditional approach.
When having a civil ceremony, the world of venues available for your ceremony opens up! It is also worth noting that there are many aspects to this. There is the local register office, whom will often have a hireable room for ceremonies, or a registrar will have to be booked from the district in which your venue lies to come to your wedding to conduct the ceremony. The time of your wedding will be dictated by their availability. There is also other forms of ceremonies. Some choose to be married by a celebrant, or have a humanist ceremony, or a friend conduct the service. To ensure the legality, the marriage register will still have to be signed. Some people choose to do the “legal” part on a different day, ensuring that the wedding day spent with their chosen guests is exactly how they want!
Having an idea of your preferred location is very important during your wedding venue search. You have to think about things like, are there hotels nearby? Will we need to transport our guests from the ceremony location to the reception? Is it accessible for people with disabilities? Is there parking nearby? Where is the nearest airport? These things should all play a role in your decision making to give your guests the best experience on your big day.
I would definitely recommend giving your guests detailed information on travel/directions if the ceremony is being held in a different location to the reception. Or, will you be including in your budget the transport from one venue to another for your guests? Doing a test run yourself would be beneficial so that you can see how long it takes. This will help also in the scheduling and timings of the day.
If you’re looking to cut costs for your wedding, then a great solution is having the same venue for the wedding ceremony, breakfast and reception.
Identifying your wedding style before you start looking for a venue will really help in narrowing down the search because you will know straight away what isn’t suitable. Pinterest is the perfect tool to help you get inspiration for your wedding style and also looking at my Portfolio of other weddings. Creating a visual mood board is great way to get inspired and will help you really visualise how your wedding will look.
You will then need to ask yourself questions to work out what style/theme you and your partner want. Things like, do you know what kind of wedding you want? Will it be formal or casual? Inside or outside? Intimate or a large celebration? Traditional or fun festival vibes? Adults only or children welcome?
During this process also write down the priorities of things you want the venue to definitely have, for example an outside space to have the ceremony (if the weather allows!) Doing these things and asking yourself the questions above will really narrow it down for you to find your perfect venue. If all this talk about style has got you thinking about your dress, I hear you!!! I’ve written a little ditty about finding your perfect dress over here…
Meet a Wedding Planner
Hiring a wedding planner isn’t necessary, but it can really make a difference when choosing a wedding venue. Wedding planners are professionals with extensive experience, however this will come at an extra cost and is something you will have to consider. Many venues will come with a wedding planner included in the wedding package, which is a fantastic opportunity to get the best advice. They will know the venue perfectly to ensure that the space is created in a way to make it unique to you.
Having a wedding budget is important, so that you don’t fall into the trap of over spending. It is very easy to get carried away when you choose your wedding venue and suppliers that your well intentioned list starts getting longer with more ideas to make your wedding the most perfect day. Proper planning is so important!
It is very likely that your venue will be a large chunk of your budget and it’s important to bear in mind all the added costs that can come with a venue, like chair covers, table linen, catering, corkage, insurance and service charges….to name a few! That is why when you have found a venue that you like you need to ask questions and be prepared. Ask things like, what is the rental fee and what’s included in that price? How many hours does the rental fee include, and is there an overtime fee if I stay longer? Do you have liability insurance? Can I have my ceremony here too and is there an additional cost?
Many venues will offer wedding packages, offering things such as venue hire, catering, entertainment etc all included for a lower price. If you’re planning a wedding on a budget, opting for a wedding package could be a great way to save some money, as well.
Having a set budget in mind will help you stay focused on finding a space that has all the important features included at the price you can afford to pay. And remember to ask family and friends for help where they can to cut costs, for example, someone who can sing in the ceremony or play an instrument. Or maybe you have creative people in your life who could make your wedding invites or even bake the cake!! Use the talents of your guest list!
You should have a guest list before you start looking at wedding venues. Even if its a rough idea, because it will save you any disappointment if you find your perfect venue and discover its not going to accommodate your guest list. Especially if you’ve set your heart on it!
Whether you’re planning a huge celebration or an intimate one, you want to celebrate at a venue that is perfect for your number of guests. If you are having a big wedding with many guests then I would suggest to find a venue that can accommodate more than the number on your list. There should be ample space for your table layout and for the guests to mingle and dance. You should also be aware that if you are having a smaller wedding and you hold it in a large a large venue it may feel empty and lack the intimate vibe you would want for a smaller wedding. Size of venue really does matter!
When a venue is empty it is hard to imagine how it will look when filled with tables and all your guests. If you can visit the venue when it is set up for a wedding, then it is a great idea. If this isn’t possible, ask to see photographs. Another tip is to ask for a seating plan of the room as this will give you a good idea of how much space there is.
Think about Catering
Weddings are a celebration of your marriage and also a time to eat, drink and be merry so the food served deserves your special attention. Think about whether you want internal or external caterers, as many venues will provide catering services and others will leave it entirely up to you.
Also consider what type of cuisine you would like when you choose your wedding venue. If you’re going for a venue with catering included, make sure that the type of food you want is available. Sampling the food before you make any decisions is a really good idea, the last thing you want is a venue with a fantastic atmosphere but average food!
Also, ensure that the catering provides food that is suitable for all your guests, check with them to see if anyone has any dietary requirements, whether they’re vegetarian, vegan, gluten-free etc. If children are invited, then providing kids’ meals is also important.
Trust Your Gut
When making the final decision to choose your wedding venue, it’s good to think of a few final things. Look at the venue from the guests perspective. Would you enjoy a wedding as a guest at the venue? Do the staff seem friendly, focused and professional, as well as genuinely excited about your big day? The staff can actually make or break your day!
Ultimately your gut will let you know when you have found your perfect wedding venue, you will feel excited, warm and probably get that fuzzy feeling in your stomach!
If you’re lucky enough to have multiple places that fit your overall criteria and budget, pick the one that makes you FEEL the best and excited for your Big Day!
If you are still looking for a wedding photographer than take a look at my PORTFOLIO on my website, I would love to hear from you.
Xx Fiona Xx
Here us some helpful links for when you are choosing your wedding venue: