Finding your perfect venue
Congratulations, you’re engaged and officially ready to plan your big day, starting with finding the perfect space to host your ceremony and reception.
Deciding where to get married can feel like a huge decision, and it’s particularly difficult if you don’t immediately know whereabouts you want to get married and exactly what you need from a venue. It’s likely you’ve never done this before, so it’s totally fine not to have all the answers straight away! Don’t feel the need to rush this crucial part of the planning process, follow my step-by-step guide and you’ll soon be confirming the venue (and the date!) for your wedding day..
Nail the budget & guest list
As mentioned in my last post, it’s vital to start with a clear idea of the budget you can realistically allocate to your venue, and the amount of people you want to invite. After all, it’s pretty important that your dream venue can actually fit the number of guests you’ll be inviting…I know this sounds SO obvious but I definitely fell into the trap of visiting gorgeous venues that were just too small for the number of people we wanted at our wedding. Avoid the sinking feeling and rule out any venues that don’t have the capacity for your guest list!
Narrow down locations
This part can be tricky if you’re not naturally linked to a certain location. Whereas couples used to tie the knot in the hometown of the bride to be, these days couples really do have the world at their feet. That’s why it’s important to sit down with your other half and decide what your vision is for your day. Consider:
Do you have a specific style of venue in mind?
- A country house, a rustic barn, an urban warehouse? Think about what floats your boat and that decision might just help to narrow down the ‘where’. Don’t worry if you can’t pin this down straight away, that’s what viewings are for!
- Would you prefer to create your own venue? Lots of couples choose to utilise a marquee in an outdoor space – this provides the ultimate blank canvas venue but remember it does mean organising your event from scratch, which can prove pretty pricey!
How far are you willing to travel?
- Remember you’ll likely need to visit the venue a few times before your wedding, so think about how far you’re happy to travel and set a radius based on that distance.
- Do you need to bear in mind any ‘must-have’ guests and their ability to travel? This one is particularly relevant for the grandparents!
- If you fancy getting married abroad, how far is too far and might you need additional support to plan from a distance?
What kind of ceremony would you like to have?
- If you’re tied to a specific place of worship for the ceremony, you may want to limit the travel time between there and your reception venue. Nobody wants a bus full of hungry, tired guests!
- Do you want to have the ceremony and the reception in one place? Remember the venue will need to be fully licensed for civil ceremonies and have the right spaces available, or a very quick turnaround time from ceremony to reception.
- Is your dream to get married outside? The venue will need to have a specific licence for outdoor civil ceremonies, this will help to narrow down your search.
Once you have answered the key questions about what you’re after, you should be left with a good idea of the type of venue you’re looking for, and whereabouts to start your search.
Decide on your priorities
Just before you officially begin the hunt, take some time to determine your ‘must-haves’ from the venue. To give you an idea, here’s a few factors that could act as deal-breakers when you’re weighing up venues:
Exclusivity: Some bigger venues may host more than one wedding a day during peak season. If you want to make sure yours is the only wedding (or event in general) taking place that day, add exclusivity to your list of deal-breakers.
Corkage: Be aware that some venues will want to charge you a corkage fee for bringing in your own alcohol. If this is something you’d rather avoid, limit your search to venues with no corkage.
Supplier restrictions: If it’s super important to you to be able to hand-pick your suppliers, double-check with venues beforehand if there are any preferred suppliers which might limit those you can choose yourself.
Accommodation: More and more venues are now offering on-site accommodation for couples and their guests. If you value this over staying elsewhere, make it one of your key priorities.
Day of the week: If you’re able to be flexible with the day you get married, this can make a fairly substantial difference to the cost. Venues will provide you with costs based on day of the week, ‘high season’ and ‘low season’. If you’re set on getting married on the Saturday of a bank holiday weekend in the height of summer, be aware that availability will be harder to come by, but it’s absolutely possible!
Start the search
By this stage you should have a much clearer picture of where you want to start looking for venues and which elements are important to you – HOORAY, that makes things so much easier!
Now it’s time to put your preparations to good use and properly start the hunt. Utilise a range of resources to give you plenty of options and take your time looking into the venues that immediately pique your interest. There are some amazing ready-made and searchable venue lists available online – try Coco Wedding Venues or the Rock My Wedding list as a starting point, look through wedding magazines and use Instagram as a tool. If you’ve fallen in love with a photographer or florist for instance, check out which venues they’re often tagging – you’d be amazed how many brilliant suppliers you can come across by doing a little detective work on insta.
If the idea of carrying out the venue search fills you with dread, or you just don’t have the time to commit to searching and narrowing down, feel free to drop me a message and I’d be happy to chat to you about how I can help. The Little Things consultancy service is a fab option if you want someone to take the stress out of finding and refining the venue options, leaving you to pick out of a small selection of amazing venues, designed to suit your wedding vision.
Enjoy the venue visits
When you’ve done all the hard work, you should be left with a shortlist of all your favourite options and it’s time to start visiting! Contact the venues, let them know when you’re hoping to get married (even if you’ve only narrowed it down to ‘summer next year’) and ask if you can book in for a tour around the venue. Some venues will be happy to book you in during a weekend that suits you but expect that they may want you to visit fairly early if they have a wedding that day. Personally, I think visiting on a day when they have a wedding is really useful as you often get to see some of the set up in action. If you’re planning a year or longer in advance, I’d always recommend trying to see the venue at the same time of year as when you hope to get married – that way you can see any gardens/flowers/plants as they’re likely to look on your wedding day.
Take plenty of photos during the visit so you can remind yourself of the spaces available and make sure to go armed with questions. Use your priority list as a starting point (covering exclusivity, preferred suppliers, corkage, accommodation) and make sure to check some of the finer details, including costs, any restrictions and access timings.
Most importantly, make the most of this exciting time of your planning process and enjoy all the lovely congratulations you’ll no doubt receive from the potential venues.
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Imagery © Anneli Marinovich