Wedding venue selection is one of the things which can cause a lot of stress for couples who are planning their wedding. Location, budget, look and feel, whether it’s too big or too small are just a few of the things which must be considered.
Sometimes, the location of the wedding venue is dictated by the area in which you want to marry or by a venue which holds a special place in your heart already. In our blog we are going to talk about a few things that you might not have considered when choosing your wedding venue.
1. Date and Budget
If you are absolutely fixed on a particular date for your nuptials, it makes sense to start your search early. Many venues open their diaries for bookings up to three years in advance. If you are planning a long engagement, the choice of venues is definitely going to be larger.
The best place to start is by making a list of possible venues and then calling them all to check the date you want is available. You can then start the task of working out whether they fit your budget. A simple way to do this is to ask ‘how much is an average wedding for 100 guests at your venue’. That way you can see at a quick glance whether it’s worth going to view the space.
If you’re flexible with dates you are likely to have plenty of choice too. If you have a dream venue but it isn’t available on your date, or you can’t afford it, consider scheduling your wedding for an off-peak time like November, early December or February. There’ll be less competition for venues and you may find that the prices are more reasonable. You might also consider a midweek wedding although some guests may not be able to attend.
It’s a good idea to put some thought into the type of wedding you’d like before you start your venue search. Think about whether you want a formal or informal wedding, whether it’s likely to be small and intimate or an all-out party for the masses. Are you looking for a vintage, afternoon tea style wedding or a traditional sit-down meal. By identifying the important elements, you will quickly narrow down the venues that make it on to your shortlist.
You should also consider how ‘hands-on’ you’d like to be. Having a wedding in a dry-hire venue can give you huge flexibility over how it is ultimately styled. However, decorating a venue like this from scratch is a huge under-taking, often far more than you could ever anticipate if you don’t have experience. You may find that you end up having to find extra money within the budget to hire a venue decorator so it’s important to identify that right at the start of your planning.
Of course, your wedding is your special day and you should have everything just as you like it. However, some thought should be given to your guests comfort otherwise you may find your guestlist is a little on the light side.
Create a rough guest list and consider any accessibility requirements. Check the venue has adequate parking or research to see if a town centre venue has suggestions for parking facilities in the area. If you have guests travelling from far away, check your venue can accommodate them overnight or look for hotels (catering for every budget) in the area.
If you have guests with specific dietary requirements, discuss these with your preferred venue early on so they can be incorporated into the menu. With enough notice, it’s possible to offer a menu on the day which caters for every possible dietary requirement. It can be gluten and dairy free, vegan and most importantly, completely delicious!
It is also worth considering the distance between the ceremony and reception venues. Anything over an hour’s drive away from each other is generally difficult to manage on the day.
Many venues offer a fully-inclusive package where the food, drinks, tables, chairs and function room hire are included in the price. However, some do not and it’s critical that you know what your price includes right from the start.
Whether you are going to serve a full four-course meal, a buffet or BBQ, you need to know if the venue you are looking at has an in-house catering service. If they do, can they provide you with menu options to suit your guests, including vegetarians, gluten-intolerant guests or those with religious food requirements. Do note, not all in-house caterers are employed by the venue. Sometimes it’s possible to bring your own caterers into a venue even when it looks on the surface that the venue offers catering in-house.
If you are looking at a venue that does not have an in-house catering service all all, you will need to look for a caterer. Pricing up this type of service can be challenging. Caterers tend not to routinely provide prices for everything you need within their quotes. Check that the price they give includes plates, cutlery etc and check who is responsible for laying the tables.
When choosing your venue, don’t assume everything you see in the brochure images is included. While most venues will provide chairs and tables, but extra costs may be involved when it comes to dancefloors, chair covers, cutlery and glasses as well as table decorations and linen. And not all venues will provide these things, so be sure to ask what is included and what you must source yourself. If you have a particular theme and the venue doesn’t have table linen in your chosen colours, ask them if you can supply your own. Not all venues allow this.
Wedding venues often have a list of preferred suppliers who they like to work with. There are two sides to this. Firstly, it can be reassuring to book, for example, a Wedding videographer from a venue suppliers list. It usually means the videographer knows the venue and event staff well meaning they will know the best locations to capture the most compelling footage.
However, sometimes, the venue may have a vested interest in suggesting a supplier as they’ll be given a commission for the referral. It’s worth checking this out. Some venues, especially listed buildings or museums, will insist you only book suppliers from their allowed supplier list. This is often due to the need for suppliers working in this type of venue having to hold a particular type of insurance or being risk assessed.
If you know you want to use a specific supplier of your own choosing, it’s worth asking your preferred venue about any rules they have, before you hand over your deposit.
Are you struggling with venue selection? We are happy to give our personal experiences of venues we have carried out wedding videography at. Leave your questions in the comments below – we will be in touch!
All the best,