Choosing A Wedding Venue

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When choosing a wedding venue there will be certain things to decide and look out for before going ahead and booking it starting with the type of venue you want...

Venue Type

You may know for sure that you want say a church wedding followed by a hotel reception, or you may be undecided between having your civil wedding in a barn and a stately home.  Either way, it is recommended that you and your partner visit several different venue types to see which suits your personalities best, and then come up with a shortlist. This way you can compare them and ultimately choose the one which ticks the most boxes. 

Things to consider about each venue:

Ceremony

If you have chosen to get married in a church or at a religious venue then you will have lots of options when choosing your reception venue but will want to find somewhere as close to the church as possible so that it easier for your guests. Often the bride and groom will choose their local church to wed in but due to a change in the law it is now much easier to get married in a church away from where you live. See www.yourchurchwedding.org for further information.

If you are having a civil ceremony you will need to find a licensed venue for the service and you may want to choose a venue where you can have both the ceremony and reception. Lots of hotels now offer civil ceremonies and you may be able to get married inside or outside. Either way, the ceremony should take place in a separate area/room to your reception.

One important thing to do when choosing a venue for both the ceremony and service is to make sure that it has enough room for the amount of guests you wish to invite!

Evening Reception

Type of Food

You will need to check that the menu choice offers the food that you and partner would want to eat on the day. If you want to have a buffet in addition or instead of a sit down meal find out if the venue offers this. You should also be able to sample the food at the venue before going ahead and booking. Although choosing the exact menu will be done just a few months before the wedding day.

If you want to hire your own caterers does the venue allow for this? 

Décor

Although you should be allowed to decorate the ceremony and reception rooms and tables with flowers, favours, confetti and balloons, look carefully at the general décor of the venue as this can't be changed. If it is a red room with red carpet and table cloths and you want your bridesmaids in hot pink is it going to clash with your colour scheme?

Type of Entertainment

If you want a disco does your venue cater for this? If you want to hire a band or singer is that possible? Is there enough room for the amount of guests you want to invite to the evening reception?

Budget

Make sure that you get a full quote for the cost of the wedding from each venue. Ask them to give you a breakdown of the cost too so that you may see how much the food will cost per head.

Accommodation

If you have many guests travelling to your wedding you will need to recommend some accommodation for them. Find out if the venue has available accommodation for guests, the price and when it would need to be booked by. You will also want somewhere to stay yourself on the wedding night. If the venue does not offer accommodation, is there anywhere nearby that does and are there place for guests of varying budgets to stay?

Parking

Is there enough parking for the amount of guests you wish to invite?

Grounds

When looking at venues, think about where your photos would be taking. Does it have picturesque grounds with a private area for taking wedding photos? Is there an inside alternative which you would feel happy using for your wedding pictures should the weather be bad?

Staff

Are the staff friendly and helpful? What are the waiters and waitresses like? Can you meet the DJ to see if he will do the playlist you want? What is the resident officiant like? If you don't feel comfortable in the presence of the staff and they are not flexible and obliging to your (reasonable!) requests then perhaps this isn't the venue for you.

Atmosphere and gut feeling

Tick boxes and checklists aside, go for the venue that you like the most and which has the most pleasant atmosphere; if it has a smaller reception room than the others you've looked at, or less choice on the menu, do these aspects really matter if you can imagine having a super wedding here? Don't underestimate the importance of gut-feeling.

Availability

If you have found your dream wedding venue but it is not available on the date or month you and your partner had in mind, you will have to decide whether it is worth changing the date for and if not, what are your alternatives?

How to choose a wedding venue from your shortlist:

Remember you can always go back for a second (or third!) look if you are undecided between venues but be prepared to compromise when picking a wedding venue with your fiance as you may have different expectations and tastes.