Choosing a wedding venue is one of the biggest decisions you will make in planning a wedding, and will impact all your other choices. Get the venue right and the rest will follow. Here are some things to think about when choosing a wedding venue.
When to book your wedding venue
Ideally, you want to look at making a booking around twelve to eighteen months before your special day. It’s quite normal to look for a wedding reception venue around two years before you walk down the aisle. You have to be fast in order to book your dream wedding reception venue, as the most popular ones get booked long in advance, especially if you are getting married in the high wedding season or on a Saturday.
Some couples want a short engagement and get great last minute deals on wedding venues, but generally this means taking what is available rather than getting your dream venue.
There are a few decisions to make prior to you start finding a wedding reception venue. Some couples wish to set a date and then find an available venue, while others look for the venue first and then pick a date based on its availability. Either way you need to decide on the geographic location of the wedding, whether you want to have the ceremony and reception at the same place or at different venues, and roughly the amount of guests you wish to invite.
Finding your perfect venue
Think about what you want from a wedding venue. Do you just want a plain function centre where you hire the room and have to supply everything else yourself, or do you wish for a venue that will take care of everything from the wedding cake to rooms for you?
When you get a good idea what kind of venue you are looking for, come up with a list of possibilities in the area and organise to visit them. Ensure you see all the rooms that will be utilised for your reception, as well as any extra rooms such as the bridal suite, ceremony room, and dressing rooms if needed. If you are organising an outside reception, check that the venue has an indoors alternative in case of bad weather. Take a wish list for the special day, as well as a list of questions to ask and make notes at each location so you don’t mix them up or forget any crucial information.
Quite a few reception venues will require you to utilise their catering facilities, which might have a real impact on your selection. Find out whether you have to purchase wine and other beverages from the venue or whether you are able to bring your own and simply pay corkage, and ensure you see sample menus – arranging a tasting if possible.
If the venue is commonly used for weddings they might have links with local florists, musicians and decorators and you might be able to negotiate a great package deal. Another facility to keep in mind is a babysitting service, or children’s playroom if you are thinking about inviting children to the wedding. Venues might also have special rates with local taxi businesses and hotels to provide accommodation transport and rooms for your guests.
Questions to ask the reception venue
- Is the venue available on our chosen date?
- Are any other weddings or functions taking place on that date?
- Do you provide wedding packages, and can these be customised?
- Do you provide an in-house wedding co-ordinator?
- When will we be able to access the reception rooms in order to decorate?
- Can we get a live band or are there any noise restrictions?
- Is it possible to organise firework displays, confetti, rose petals, or the lighting of candles?
- What time will the evening reception have to end? Can we have a late bar?
- Are there disabled facilities?
- Can you cater to the specific dietary requirements of our guests?
- Are we able to bring in our own wine? If so, what is the corkage?
- Do you have accommodation, and if not do you have discount offers with local hotels?
- Do we need to use your preferred suppliers or can we utilise our own choice of florist, caterer etc?
- Are there any restrictions on where pictures can be taken?
- Do you have facilities for children like entertainment or a babysitting service?
- How much is the deposit and when do we need to book?
Here are 10 things to think about when booking that dream wedding venue.
Deciding on where you want to have your wedding is the first thing to plan, it may be that you have chosen somewhere that is local to you or you may want to go further afield to a location that is special to you both or that you just love the look of. Once you have chosen your location, make a list of the venues you like the look of and then pay them a visit and go with a list of questions to ask, don’t be afraid to ask a number of questions, this venue needs to be perfect for you both.
Parking is something that you need to just bare in mind when it comes to choosing your venue, just think about the area of parking and the number of cars that potentially might be using it. It is hard to know how many people will be driving but it avoids problems on the night. You could also put onto the invites about parking options if the venue you do feel in love with hasn’t got a huge amount of parking on-site, for example where the best place to park will be, or if budget allows you, you could put on a bus/coach to help reduce the issues with parking.
Capacity and Minimums
You will need to find out what the capacity of the venue for your day guests, sit down meal and then for your evening numbers to ensure your guest list is correct and that you do not go over your capacity. Some venues may also have a minimum number of guests for certain wedding packages or food options so this is something to just take into account too.
Services and Amenities
Look at what services and amenities the venue have for your wedding. Things to consider would be, does it have a kitchen? Can you use the kitchen if you are providing your own catering? Or does the venue provide the catering for you? Does the venue provide tables and chairs or is this something you will need to hire and then take that into account on your budget. Do they provide linen for the tables, if so is there an extra charge for this, if they do not provide the linen can they source this for you or is this something you will need to do. Do they have a clean-up/set up crew for your wedding day? For decorating the rooms, table decorations, table set up etc – this is something that is important to find out as this is the last thing you want to be worrying about on your wedding day.
Think about the room’s layout and how you can make full use of the space that is being provided. You will need to take in consideration where you would like the dance floor and then where you would like the tables, how many tables you will need, size and shape of the tables – you may find that long tables work better the circular or vice versa. Do you want to reduce the number of tables for the evening reception to enable more space? Where will the cake table go and the gifts and card table? Ensure that there is plenty of space and walkways so people can make their way safely and if you need to have need pushchair or wheelchair access.
Look at the venues décor, furniture and fixtures and fitting within the room to decide whether it will work for your style of wedding. It is important that you get the ambience you are looking for and that you are happy with everything in the room. You can add your own decorations to create YOUR dream wedding but the feel of the room is still important, there is no point choosing a barn wedding venue with beams and a rustic ambience if your wedding is a stylish black tie theme.
Every venue will have their own public liability insurance, but some places may require that you have your own wedding insurance. This is something to look into and as a couple can decide if you feel that you need this insurance, but please do just bare in mind that if your dream venue requires you to have insurance then you will need to get it, and it is there for your protection so it’s not a bad thing to add to your To Do wedding list.
You may need to take into account the access into the venue especially if you have guests in wheelchairs, buggies or people that are unable to walk up steps. If you cannot initially see suitable access that ask the venue about it, as there might be an alternative entry into the building that they can use for you which is not visible.
Each function room will have its own acoustics, some rooms offer better acoustics than others, so just something to consider when looking around at venue options. It will all depend too on what type of evening entertainment you’re having, if it’s just a DJ then it’s something not to worry about too much however if you’re having a band it might be good to look more into it, you can always ask advice from your band if you are unsure what you are looking for.
Cost and Flexibility on Wedding Date
The important stuff to consider is your wedding date and cost, if you have decided on that dream wedding venue then if you can go with a couple of dates and be flexible, it may help with your reducing your venue costs. We all know that getting married at a weekend will increase the venue price hugely whilst if you do have flexibility and can consider a weekday then you will be sure to see a difference on the cost to your overly wedding.
These 10 tips are here to help you with finding that perfect wedding venue which can be a huge decision. But with a bit of patience and guidance, you will be sure to find that ideal wedding venue in your chosen location.
Happy venue hunting!
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