It has been a month since my first post on my initial wedding plans. I had mentioned that I was crossing over into ‘crazy lady’ territory. I can happily confirm that I crossed over and made camp, becoming a little ‘cray cray’ whilst we decided on our wedding venue!
2020 is a desirable wedding date, the venues we liked were booking up fast! We decided to shortlist three of our favourites, each in different locations and all around a two hour radius from home. After spending days searching websites, social media and blogs, we were very happy with our selection. From years of venue visit experience, you may fall in love with a venue based on a website and pretty pictures, this can completely change the minute you step inside. Always make the time to visit, talk to the venue team, take your own pictures and stay open minded. List down the pro’s and cons to each venue, don’t be scared to ask questions, no matter how small or silly it may seem.
Finding a venue can be overwhelming, there are so many available, from barns, conservatories, museums and galleries to castles, estates, marquees and hotels. There is also a saturated amount of venue directories, I used Coco Wedding Venues to select my shortlist. Coco Weddings have a stylish website that’s easy to navigate and they have a great collection of venues based on style and location. We selected three that suited our budget, each with slightly different styles, each with their own unique elements. We could have chosen more however, we found the shorter list helped us make quicker decisions on what we really wanted.
I had always pictured a rustic wedding, lots of natural elements, dark wooden beams and something a little quirky. I fell in love with a space that was completely the opposite, a little more modern, lots of natural light and a little more ‘romantic’. It is unlikely a venue will allow you to book or hold a date prior to you visiting, however, if they do offer this option, I cannot stress how much I advise against it. The venue that I thought wasn’t really ‘us’, ended up being a strong contender.
I can tell you something that can instantly turn your favourite into your least favourite. Cost! Yep, everything seems so dreamy, you picture yourself walking down the aisle, saying your I-do’s and sipping Champagne with loved ones. The next minute you are discussing the possibility of eloping to the other side of the world and sending everyone a postcard!
Venue and catering will usually be the most expensive element of your wedding day. I highly suggest working out your overall budget and then allocating a cost for your venue and catering prior to booking. I find that many couples pick a great venue, book and then stress because they forgot about photographer, flowers, entertainment etc.
We contracted our venue and booked our registrar last week! I am going to keep the venue under wraps, but I will of course continue to blog about our wedding planning journey. I can now relax for a while, my aim is plan all other elements in a much more calm and rational manor. I can imagine this will not be the case, but heres to hoping!
For those currently looking for your ideal wedding venue. I have listed 10 questions you may find helpful to ask your venue prior to booking.
Cost – Peak season runs from May – September, weekends and bank holidays are popular and of course, more expensive. Ask for the venue’s payment and deposit terms, including what the hire timings are and if they charge for additional hours. Ask if they offer mid-week deals, packages or discounted dates. Venues usually have payment instalments which help with managing costs.
Venue Availability – I suggest having three date options when you make initial contact with your venue. That way it is more likely for you to find a date that is available. Once you have visited the venue, make sure you pencil a date in their calendar. Venues usually give you 7-14 days to provisionally hold a date before releasing again, this gives you time to look at costs and decide if it’s right for you.
What’s Included – One of the most important questions is of course, what are you getting for your money? I remember I organised an event at a luxury hotel in London, they actually charged me to turn on the lights in the dining room! Some venues can take advantage. If they have inside catering, ask if your chairs, tables, linen and crockery etc is included. Check if cleaning and service charges are included, do they have an easel, cake-cutting facilities. Try to avoid saying ‘how much is’ and use ‘is this included’, word play can sometimes make a big difference. If the answer is ‘no’, ask if it is possible for them to add it in. Don’t ask, don’t get!
Capacity and Wet-Weather – It is always best to have a rough idea of how many guests you are inviting prior to your venue search. Make sure that you ask the venue capacities based on ceremony, reception, wedding breakfast and evening party. Make sure you enquire regarding their wet weather option if you plan an outdoor wedding.
Civil Ceremony Licence – It is crucial to know what spaces are available if you are planning a civil ceremony, especially if you are planning on holding this outside. Again, always ask wet-weather options. Make sure you check with the local registry office, you want to ensure that they have a registrar available on the wedding day. Venues usually list registrar information on the website or can easily provide this.
Exclusive Use – Some couples do not like the idea of sharing their special day with others. Hotels, larger venues and public spaces such a museums and galleries, can sometimes mean multiple weddings or wandering tourists. Exclusive use venues are available, some venues can also offer this for a higher fee, make sure you ask your venue how they work.
Suppliers – Venues are gradually becoming a little more flexible when it comes to suppliers and catering. Many venues have a suggested or approved supplier list, they will usually push you to use them. This is mainly because they often get a commission out of it. Always ask to see a supplier list, ask who works there regularly and what works they recommend based on your budget. If external caterers are allowed, ask is there is a cost involved to use the kitchen. Never be afraid to ask if they would consider you using your own suppliers, venues are gradually getting a little more flexible, especially if means you will sign on the dotted line.
Catering – If a venue has in-house catering, ask to see example of the menus, wine lists and package costs. Ask if they are able to be flexible and adapt the menu if you have any particular likes and dislikes. If external catering is allowed, it is likely that they will have an approved or recommended list. I highly suggest looking at the options prior to booking to ensure they have something that works for you. Also ask if they are happy to charge or waiver corkage fees. This can save you a lot of money if they are willing for you provide your own wine and bubbles.
Restrictions – Ask the venue what restrictions they have. For example, are you allowed confetti, do they have sound restrictions, can you have candles, are you able to hang décor? Museums, galleries and historic venues are usually very strict so be sure to ask. Always check what disabled facilities are available, this is a question that can be easily missed.
Accommodation – Some venues have accommodation on site, for those that don’t, they can usually provide you with a list of local accommodation. Always ring the hotels and check if they provide group rates for weddings, many hotels located near venues are prepared for this type of enquiry and can sometimes offer competitive rates.