Finding the right venue can be hard - here's our experts guide to making the right decision for you
Choosing a Wedding Venue
Your wedding venue is an important factor when it comes to your wedding - potentially the most important. Often the venue will set the style and theme for your whole day. It is undoubtedly, therefore, one of the most important decisions that you will make when planning your wedding and can be very stressful. Once you have chosen your venue lots of other things will start falling in to place.
There are lots of websites that might help you find a venue in your local area. www.hitched.co.uk is our current favourite and it's a fairly easy process to sign up and follow.
There are two ways of approaching venue planning - the first is to look at the practicalities. It might be worth making a list at the very start of the process of elements that you aren't prepared to compromise on and elements that you'd like but aren't set in stone. When you've narrowed the list down to around five different options you can start talking to them - ring around, attend open days and ask them to provide a detailed quote.
The size of venue needs to be considered. If you plan to invite a large party obviously a bigger venue is needed. Obviously budget is a factor here too - time or year and day of the week will affect the cost - potentially significantly. But beyond that - is there space for a dance floor, a bouncy castle, a circus tent? You will need to think about the layout and flow of your big day - can everyone sit and hear the speeches? Where will you cut the cake?
Is exclusivity important to you? Many big venues and hotels host more than one wedding at a time. Is there a safe space for children to run and play away from the tables and chairs? Is that private, intimate ceremony that you dreamed of possible in this particular venue?
Location and accessibility also need to be considered. If the ceremony and reception are in different places are they both easy to find and do you need to provide transport? If you have guests with mobility impairment is your venue accessible with adequate facilities for all your guests?
What about food? Does your chosen venue have a preferred supplier and can that supplier meet what you would like? Are you able to have that fireworks display that you imagine or is a candlelit meal possible? Is there a space to have an outdoor ceremony and, if so, what happens if it rains? And even more practical - are there enough plug sockets? Are the acoustics good? Is there enough parking and overnight accommodation for all those who want to stay? Have a look at our list of the top ten things to ask when visiting potential wedding venues.
You might want to consider taking a notebook with a list of questions that you'd like to ask and to jot down notes and answers. The second approach is much more ruled by your heart. Many couples start their journey with a checklist and that's important but this is a big decision - you will need to be happy with the feel of the place. Lighting sets the mood but it will help you to visit at the time of day and, preferably, the time of year that your wedding will be so you can really appreciate how it might be on your wedding day. Will those beautiful trees grow up and block the stunning view? How will the colours be in the winter sun? Your and your partner's gut feeling will be so important in determining how you feel about your chosen venue on your wedding day.
There are lots of other ways to measure up your chosen venue - speak to people who have used it, read reviews, your photographer will probably have worked in lots of venues - what do they think of this one? And then finally, most important of all, ask questions! I'm not suggesting becoming the nightmare couple but really think about what you want and ask if it's possible. You will get a great idea of the customer service of the venue when asking and really be able to drill down in to what you want.
Finally - when you've decided - get wedding insurance and then book it! As soon as you can so someone else doesn't snap it up first. Read the small print and ensure that you schedule compliance with the payment and other terms.
Once you have done this you have a little bit of time to think about the next steps in your plan. Have a look at our wedding planning guide for more information.