Just engaged? Now what? First things first, the search is officially on to find your perfect wedding venue. If you don’t have a specific space in mind for your ceremony or reception, the volume and variety of venues available can seem a little daunting. Remember, this isn’t a race and you don’t need to book on your first viewing. Go to see a few different options to find what’s ultimately right for you. And don’t forget to take these important factors into consideration…
What Is Your Budget?
Your allocated budget will be the defining factor when it comes to choosing your wedding venue. Don’t put a downer on the proceedings by swooning over a property that’s totally unattainable (I know, we all want what we can’t have!). By sticking in and around your main price point, you won’t overspend in one area resulting in heightened stress levels further along in your planning journey.
How Big Is Your Guest List?
This one is a no-brainer. If you have a large family and wide circle of friends, obviously an intimate venue with limited seating won’t be able to cater to your 180+ guest list.
When Is Your Wedding Date?
You will more than likely have a certain time of the year in mind when it comes to tying the knot. Maybe you have always dreamed of being a June bride or maybe a magical Christmas wedding is at the top of your wish list. Don’t be disheartened if your preferred date isn’t available at your venue of choice. Keep in mind that Saturdays and bank holiday weekends tend to fill up fast. There’s no rule book saying you can’t opt for a midweek celebration, so ask your venue about alternative dates. You may even score a better value package by avoiding peak times.
Location, Location, Location
Think very carefully about your choice of location and how far you are willing to travel on your big day. For instance, it’s totally unrealistic to book a venue that’s over 90 minutes away from your parish church. Not only will this be an awkward trek for your guests, but who wants to spend a huge chunk of their wedding day stuck in a car!? The day itself will pass by in a flash and you will want to savor every moment with your loved ones.
Are You Having A Church Wedding Or Civil Ceremony?
Civil and humanist ceremonies are becoming hugely popular with wedding couples. Not only will you enjoy the convenience of hosting your whole day in one location, you can also add your own personal stamp on the proceedings to reflect who you are as a couple. If you and your partner are hoping to take this route, it is important to check if your venue features a suitable setting. Will the space cater to your full guest list, or will you need to reduce your numbers solely for this part of the day? Is there an extra charge for the suite hire and what details are covered in your package?
Can You Have An Outdoor Ceremony?
Is the setting of the venue particularly wow-factor? You might wish to take advantage of the stunning scenery with an Al Fresco ceremony. Many venues now offer this option during the warmer summer months – just make sure there’s a back-up plan in place if it rains!
What Type Of Venue Are You Actually Looking For?
Fairytale castle, rustic barn, five-star luxury or a family-friendly local hotel? Identify exactly what you are looking for so you can focus on the main contenders.
Is The Venue Compatible With Your Wedding Theme & Colour Palette?
If you are a girly-girl and have set your heart on a pink colour scheme with lots of sparkle, then a gothic style medieval castle is going to contradict your overall theme. You get our drift…
Is The Setting A High Priority For You?
Are breath-taking waterside views a must-have for your summer wedding? Or do you require extensive landscaped gardens and lush grounds as a backdrop for your photos? Maybe these requirements are mere fluff and the setting isn’t a priority for you at all.
Factor In Other Preferred Suppliers
Is there a photographer you seriously fan-girl over on Instagram that you just have to hire to shoot your wedding? Or maybe the band you saw at your pal’s wedding was epic and had the dance floor lit all night long. Either way, you need to be prepared for the fact that they might be pre-booked on your date. Evaluate your priorities and compromise on which element of your day is more important to you as a couple.
Does The Venue Have A Good Reputation?
Reputation means everything in the world of weddings sweetie. Research the venue’s online reviews and testimonials from past wedding couples. Here, you will get a good idea of what the venue is renowned for and what it is lacking in.
Pay Special Attention To Your First Meeting With The Wedding Coordinator
This first meeting is so, so important – we cannot stress this enough. A natural spark and good rapport from the off is essential. Nothing should be too much trouble on the most important day of your lives, and the venue’s wedding team should be selling this to you from the get-go. If the coordinator is super busy, going through the motions or just plain uninterested during your first meeting, this will generally set the tone for your future dealings with them.
Do They Hold A One-Wedding-Per-Day Policy?
If you forget everything else, please ask this one teeny question! You would be surprised how many couples don’t realize that some larger venues cater to two and even three weddings in one day. We have heard horror stories of guests flitting between receptions to take advantage of the free food and drink on offer. Just no.
Is There Guest Accommodation On-Site Or Nearby?
If your reception is at a country house venue, chances are it will only accommodate up to 25 people. Be sure to check out any suitable accommodation options nearby and if there are late-night transport facilities in place for your guests.
Does The Hotel Offer A Special Rate For Your Guests?
This will be a nice perk to offer your loved ones seeing as they have traveled to celebrate with you and given a generous wedding present.
Is The Venue Child-Friendly?
It’s vital to keep the little ones happy throughout the day (and by this we really mean their parents who deserve a well-earned break!). Does the venue have adequate baby-changing facilities to make life easy for mom? Is there a babysitting service offered at the property or an evening kids club to keep them entertained for a few hours?
Compare The Ballroom Size With Your Numbers
If the ballroom is MASSIVE and your numbers don’t add up, the room could look very empty on the day. This will have a direct impact on its atmosphere and coziness. If this is a concern, speak with the wedding team who can advise on your table plan and cleverly arrange the seating to give the space a fuller look.
Is There A Reasonable Car Park?
Your guests will have to park somewhere!
Is The Venue Wheelchair Accessible & Does It Have Disabled Facilities?
Do you have older relatives with mobility issues or are you inviting any guests with a disability? Take note of wheelchair ramps, elevators, the size of the disabled bathrooms and if your venue offers bedrooms on the ground floor.
Are There Adequate Amenities For A Longer Stay?
Particularly useful if you are planning a whole weekend celebration. Maybe you would like a relaxing spa day with your main ladies prior to the big day, or for convenience you may wish to nurse your hangover whilst hosting your day-after party in the same venue.
Is The Room Warm?
This will apply particularly to barn and marquee wedding venues. If your date is early spring or mid-late autumn, you’ll want to ensure the warmth and comfort of your guests. Is there a proper heating system in place to combat cold weather?
Can The Kitchen Accommodate Guests With A Food Intolerance?
Most menus will have a vegetarian alternative for both the starter and main course. But these days, many people are also following a gluten free diet. Is this something the Head Chef will cater for when planning your wedding dishes?
What Time Does The Bar Close & Can You Book An Extension?
Irish wedding guests love to party, so this is a pretty major element to any wedding.
Can You Bring Your Own Decor?
An essential query for DIY brides and grooms looking to put their own stamp on the venue. Will you be given free reign with table decor and wedding props? Do you need to designate a family member to set these up on the morning of your big day?
Is There A Corkage Charge & Can You Bring Your Own Wine?
Different charges apply at different venues, and this is one hidden cost that can add up quickly. If purchasing your wine wholesale is an option, be sure to ask how much corkage your potential venue charges in this instance. Explore thoroughly and do your sums before committing to this option. And don’t be afraid to haggle on price!
Keep An Open Mind
Use your imagination whilst enjoying a show around of a potential venue. The most understated ballroom with minimal decor and neutral tones can be totally transformed to complement your wedding theme. If you are a DIY bride, versatility will be key when creating your vision.
What Happens Between The Meal & Band Setting Up?
You know that awkward lull that everyone hates? Find out what the hotel’s standard practice is for this segment of the day. For example, will your guests be moved to a separate space for drinks and mingling while the band sets up? Some venues move the table settings to clear the dance floor while guests are still in the room, and this may not be to your taste.
Understand Exactly What Is Included In Your Package & What Charges Are Extra
If you are unsure of any terms in your contract or package, ask for these to be outlined clearly to you. This way, last minute costs won’t rear their ugly head closer to the big day and you can budget accordingly.
What Is The Venue’s Policy On Hiring Off-Site Food Vendors?
This restriction often leaves many couples disappointed! Due to health and safety, some venues will not allow outside suppliers to provide food to guests. This can include hired fish ‘n’ chips stands, food trucks and dessert tables. If you are hoping to have some quirky additions at your drinks reception or evening buffet, always ask first as this may not be possible.
Is There Adequate Lighting Inside The Venue?
A dark, dreary room with no windows can be very uninviting and lacking in atmosphere. Take pictures on your phone and make note of the brightness in the suite itself. If there are no windows, ask if you can view the room with its up-lighting turned on.
Does The Venue Boast Pleasant Interiors & Stand-Out Features?
It’s pretty much a given that you will need a contingency plan in the event of bad weather. Make sure you are happy with the aesthetics of the venue as a potential backdrop for your wedding photos. Your photographer may need to put their expertise to good use on the day if there is no other option but to shoot indoors.
Can Your Photographer Use The Venue’s Projector Facilities?
Lots of professional wedding photographers now offer a video collage service to couples, even dedicating time to edit together a quick snap-shot of your day to share with guests after your evening meal. If this is included in your photography package, ask your wedding coordinator if use of their projector in the ballroom is a possibility.
Will A Noise Restriction Affect Your Evening Entertainment?
If your venue is not exclusive-use, you need to be aware that other customers will be staying on-site throughout your wedding weekend. It’s wise to ask if there is a noise restriction or cut-off point on your evening entertainment. After dropping a few thousand on a wedding band, you will want to get your monies worth and ensure your guests enjoy the performance.
Question The Cancellation Policy
It’s unlikely, but if you have special circumstances surrounding your wedding date, flag the cancellation policy before signing on the dotted line. Explain these concerns to your wedding coordinator. Query how much of your deposit will have to be forfeited in the event of a cancellation and if there’s an option of re-scheduling your date.