5 Tips on Picking the Perfect Wedding Venue

Wedding venues are often a couple’s biggest expense.  In the UK, the average cost of hiring a ceremony and/or reception space is £4,354. Some couples choose their wedding venue solely based on a feeling when they walk in.  Others have an eye on the budget.  Perhaps you prefer to have a check-list of non-negotiables, allowing you to weed out the unsuitable and the ugly.  If you’re choosing a destination wedding, then the venue might need to be part of a package.

No one said planning nuptials was easy, but it’s worth spending time and effort to find the right place: one that works for you, your partner and your guests.  Fortunately, we’ve had a little think for you and are on hand to offer our top-five tips for securing the wedding venue of your dreams.

Crunch Your Numbers

We’ve always said that wedding planning is a marathon not a sprint. Initially, it’s important to keep an open mind and to plan in broad strokes gaining a general idea of what it is you both might like. That being said, once you’ve read the magazines,  brainstormed themes over coffee, scoured Pinterest for colour schemes, sipped glasses of free prosecco at fairs and open days, and chewed the ear off every newlywed you know, then it’s time to start getting down to the serious business of planning your wedding and that means crunching numbers.

It’s not romantic.  It’s not sexy.  It’s 100% necessary.

Before you shortlist your venues and ABSOLUTELY before you sign a contract with one, then sit down with your partner and have an open and honest conversation about the budget and the guest list. This will save you from falling in love with somewhere only to discover its £5,000 over your budget or that it only seats a third of the number you want to invite.  

Is the venue LGBTQ suitable?

Venues are supposed to be okay with same-sex couples getting married but unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Getting married in a safe and supportive space is fundamental.  You can find a list of gay-friendly wedding venues and vendors on the Pink Wedding Days website.

The wedding industry is still very heteronormative even in 2018. You’re probably going to see a BIG emphasis on Mr & Mrs in a lot of venues. If you’re a gay man, then don’t be surprised if you and your partner spend your wedding night in a bridal suite.  Often it’s not deliberate, it’s just semantics - but it’s annoying and that’s the last thing you want to be on your big day.  Gay or not, you’re spending a lot on your wedding venue – make sure they work for it!

Visit! Visit! Visit!

Visiting a wide range of venues might seem like obvious advice, but it’s important that you cover ALL your bases.  You might not know what you want or need until you see it.  The devil is definitely in the details.  It’s not just about the ceremony space or the breakfast venue, either, but consider toilet facilities, parking, access from the road, access for disabled guests, reduced rates on hotel rooms and catering options.  Review sites are very handy for much of this as are wedding fairs and open days.  One tip that we’d give is to see if you can get into the venue during the set-up of a wedding.  You can get a feel for the staffing and logistics.  If you’re not having exclusive use of a venue, then it’s a good chance, too, to see how the venue segregates guests from members of the public. 

 Talk to the Wedding Planner

The venue’s wedding coordinator or planner will be a huge help.  These are the people employed to keep things running smoothly and to make sure you sign the contract.  Make sure any agreed extras or ‘favours’ are outlined in any document you sign. If there’s something you’d like to include in the ceremony, then this person is your first port-of-call.  They’ll help liaise between you and the venue and they should know what works and what doesn’t based on their experience of helping with other people’s weddings. 

If you know suppliers or vendors who have worked with couples at that venue, then ask them for an honest opinion about the place.  They may even be able to ask previous couples about their experiences as what you see on the open day (when everyone is on their best behaviour and everything is under control) might not be a regular occurrence. 

Find Out About the Venue’s Cancellation Policy

Here’s something else that’s not romantic or sexy: finding out what happens if the wedding is postponed, delayed or cancelled.  Knowing where you stand is hugely important as you’re signing a legally binding contract with the venue.  Weddings are usually planned many months or even years before the big day, and there’s a lot that can go sideways in that time.  Some venues will be more flexible than others. Maybe that might colour where you settle on paying for. Nobody ever thinks it will happen to them but, unfortunately, it sometimes does so know where you stand in advance. If the venue has a strict cancellation policy, then we’d advise that you consider wedding insurance.

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