5 Top tips to consider when choosing your perfect wedding venue
My name is Zoë and I run a company called The Venue Expert.
I have worked in wedding venues for the past eight years, and now I work with lots of venues to help them and their staff improve to make sure that your wedding journey is absolutely the best that it can be.
With that in mind, I come to you today to help you begin to navigate that journey with the first thing you usually have to tick off your list - finding the right venue for you.
It can be so overwhelming when starting to look for a wedding venue. Where do you even start?! There are no standard packages to compare and every single one operates in a slightly different way.
Here are my top tips on where to start and how you will know when you have found the right venue for you.
1. What is important?
After the excitement of the engagement, start to jot down your perfect wedding day ideas. Then, split them into “non negotiables” and “nice to haves”. Maybe it is that your thing is live music so having a band is a must. Maybe you spend your time visiting Michelin starred restaurants so the food that is served is paramount. Or you work at a brewery, so you need to be able to provide your own alcohol.
These non negotiables will come back later on in the journey. Once you have decided on what you simply must have on your wedding day, discuss the things that would be a nice bonus, but wouldn’t make you discard a venue at first sight. Examples might be separate ceremony and reception rooms, or accommodation on site for your guests or the month in which you would like to get married.
2. Where on earth?
Home or abroad? Once you have made that decision the search can begin. Venue directories are a great place to start, but aren’t the only place to look as many venues aren’t even placed on those lists. Ask friends and family where they have been to weddings. If you are feeling overwhelmed by sheer choice, try to narrow down the type of venue you want to look for. Terms such as “barn”, “city centre” or “hotel” are great to narrow down the many places you can get married in the 21st century.
In order to get a real feel for the weddings that take place at the venues, head to social media and search for “venue name + wedding” and find suppliers that have worked at weddings there to give you insight into what a wedding at that venue will look like.
Most venues have an option to enquire via the internet, so if you aren’t a fan of the phone you will be able to contact them via email. I would always recommend having everything in writing as a matter of course as it can be such a confusing process comparing different venues, at least if you have it in writing you are able to quickly see what was discussed. It is at this point that you may discount certain venues due to availability, style and price. My advice would be, if you can, visit venues that might not fit all of your criteria as sometimes the people you meet end up changing your mind about what is important.
4. Question, question, question
A good wedding venue will tick all of your boxes but a great wedding venue will be chosen despite not ticking them all. The reason that they are chosen is because they absolutely wow you. If you are an anxious or nervous person I would advise to choose a venue with an in house coordinator who is there to waylay any of your concerns instantly.
If you choose a dry hire venue (where you have to bring in all suppliers from the bar to catering to toilets even!) I would recommend your first supplier booking to be a wedding planner for whom you are the number one priority. It also means that you have one point of contact for everything, halving the stress and problems that may come your way.
5. Things to watch out for
When you have chosen a venue and decided that it is the only one for you, make sure you fulling understand the constraints that are put on you by the venue. Common restrictions include sound limiters for bands, using certain suppliers and having certain areas designated for photographs. None of these restrictions are catastrophic, for instance if you don’t want live music then a sound limiter really isn’t an issue, likewise using certain suppliers can actually help to cut out the noise from the many many suppliers in your area.
It’s super important before you sign on the dotted line and hand over any money to understand what you can and can’t do. Leading back to point one, make sure your non-negotiables are able to happen. And know that no venue is saintly, all have restrictions - it is the way they present and deal with them that is important.
Sometimes I think that getting married and planning a wedding are two completely different entities, and I hope that these tips will help you as you navigate your journey. Feel free to ask any questions via the comment box here, or drop me a message over any of my social platforms. Enjoy the journey, don’t let it consume you; as Amy touched on in her first post, limit the opinions around you as it is absolutely your day to plan as you wish.