When people ask me where to start with wedding planning, my first suggestion is always to secure the venue first. Everything else will follow. The venue is undoubtly one of the most important choices you will make as so much of your wedding will depend on it: the general vibe and atmosphere. Because of this, choosing your venue can also be the hardest step. In this blog post, I have tried to come up with a series of tips to guide you in the process. To make it more helpful, I have also asked a few wedding suppliers for their input.
I cannot stress this enough, budget is always the starting point when considering every single aspect of your wedding. To have a clear idea of your budget for every section of your day means to be able to find the right suppliers for you quickly and efficiently and avoid disappointment. In this specific case, venues may vary enormouslyin price here in the UK, also according to the month and day of the week of your choice.
A low budget does not mean your wedding will not look good though, it only means you have to be very efficient with what you have and intentional in your choices. Some of the most amazing weddings I have photographed were on a low budget and they looked and felt absolutely stunning, because of all the personal touches and the joy you could feel everywhere.
Know what your budget is before you start looking…. No point falling in love with a venue if you then either end up either culling half your guest list or you end up feeling disappointed that you couldn’t afford it.
Can you envision your wedding there?
Does this venue have the vibe that your are looking for?
‘Ask yourself whether the style and feeling of the venue suits who you are as a couple. It’s no good getting married in a grand hotel if you’re a festival loving free spirit, for example. Your wedding day should be a reflection of all the things you love, so seek somewhere that allows you to show that‘. – Beth, the Barn at Avington
Will the venue easily convert your ideas in reality or will, instead, need a lot of changes and additions?
‘I have so many couples who already booked a venue by the time I start helping them and when all the rentals they need add up it goes over budget. This means we need to cut out or compromise on elements which is always tough.‘ – Katrien, South Event Specialists.
Do you feel comfortable there? Can you see your friends and family there and not feel out of place. When we found our venue it was love at first sight, it was everything we wanted but we felt at home. It’s the biggest and best day of your lives and it should make your heart sing when you’re there.
One venue or two?
Do you want both the ceremony and the reception to be held in the same place? If you decide to go for two separate venues, make always sure you consider the busy traffic as your guests might have to drive or get a cab. This is especially important for London weddings, when traffic is something unavoidable.
Will it be the only ceremony?
This is a crucial point and something to pay attention to. Some venues are big enough to hold multiple ceremonies on the same day. Is that something you’re ok with or would you rather have exclusive use of the venue?
Does the venue have guest accomodation?
Will you have guests who travel from far and need a place to stay after the wedding? Or maybe they just want to chilled out after a fun night of dancing and drinking? Guest accomodation is definitely something to keep in mind when looking at venues.
For us it was whether the venue had accommodation or not. A lot of our family and friends like a drink and wanted to be able to enjoy themselves without worrying on having to get home. Also we wanted an outdoor ceremony so a beautiful space outside was on the checklist. The venue we chose only booked one wedding per day so we could still use the indoor space if it rained.
Plan B in case of rain
If the whole of your ceremony or just a part of it is supposed to happen outdoors, does the venue have a good plan B in case of rain?
Something I had to think about when planning my own wedding. We were blessed with a sunny day, but I found that even many gorgeous venues did not have a great plan B in case of rain.
Back up plans. It’s lovely to have an outdoor wedding, or multiple event spaces but if it’s too far between areas you risk sodden guests if it rains, and we’re in England, so pretty likely! What can the venue do to help make sure your day runs seamlessly in case it rains? Do they have umbrellas, only short distances between event spaces, good back up options if you can’t be outside etc. Trust me, it poured on our wedding day and the venue nailed it!
All the little things nobody ever thinks of… A few pro tips
- THE LIGHT: As a photographer, I would also recommend considering the light of the venue you choose. If you are after bright and airy photographs and your wedding venue is dark with no windows, it will be signfiicantly harder for the photographer you choose to recreate that style.
- THE DETAILS: Don’t forget the details: what’s included and what’s not? What chairs are going to be there? What tablecloths? Ultimately, how much do you need to do yourself? ‘How much do you need to do yourself, and will you have time? ‘We looked at an amazing Manor House but we would have needed to set up and decorate the night before and take it all down the day after. It was a lot of work with a two years old child too. In the end, we went for a venue that did all of that for us – slightly more money but less stress. And the right choice in the end, bearing in mind I had proper flu all week of the wedding and went to bed early dosed up on paracetamol the night before. It would never have been decorated if left to me!‘ – Clare, Betty Bee Bakes
- TRANSITION: This a real pro tip from Lauren who works at Lillibrooke Manor. ‘How will your venue move from ceremony to party? I was at a wedding recently where all the guests were put into a holding area outside (!), so the ceremony space could change to dinner…‘ Do you like the solution your venue of choice has to offer?
- KIDS SAFETY & ACCESSIBILITY: If you are having a wedding that includes kids, please do consider the venue’s safety before booking. I personally had to cross out a beautiful venue from my list because of that. ‘Proper accessibility, not a disabled room up a step, or without grab rails or wheelchair space in the disabled loo. The couple may not need it but there’s bound to be someone in the family who’s life might be made considerably easier if it’s considered! ‘ – Claire Bemister
- AVOID AN EMPTY DANCE FLOOR: ‘I got married a LONG time ago, but after being a waitress at a wedding venue one thing I knew I had to have was the bar & dance floor in the same room. I’d seen too many weddings where there was no one on the dance floor as they were all propping up the bar!‘ – Loren Stone
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