wedding planner blog

How to Pick the Ideal Wedding Venue

wedding venue

Your wedding venue plays an important role in your big day, taking up a large proportion of your overall budget, and is the place where you’ll say “I do” and afterwards party the night away with your nearest and dearest.  There are countless wedding venues situated throughout the UK and with so much to choose from picking a venue that gives you the perfect setting to turn your big day dreams into a reality can be difficult.

As a luxury boutique wedding planner, I work with wedding venues of all shapes, sizes and styles across London and Hertfordshire, and have first-hand experience regarding exactly what you should consider before making those important decisions about where your ceremony and reception should be held.  Read on to discover my top tips for picking the perfect wedding venue.

Are you having a civil or religious ceremony?

Deciding whether you are having a civil or religious ceremony is a great place to begin, and will help to cut down your long list of potential ceremony venues significantly.  There are a large number of options, from the simple and economical to the truly extravagant.  A civil marriage ceremony is permitted to take place in a registry office or any other building that has been licensed for civil ceremonies.  Civil ceremonies are strictly non-religious, however for those wishing to have a religious ceremony, a church, chapel or other place of religious worship will provide a more suitable setting.  Again, these venues must be formally registered for marriage ceremonies.  Depending on the type of religious ceremony you wish to have, the preparatory procedures will differ. For example, to get married in a Roman Catholic or Christian church, you may be required to undertake a Marriage Preparation Course in the weeks or months before your big day.  Please take a look at my blog on Marriages and Civil Partnerships in the UK which describes in great detail the legalities of actually getting married.

For convenience or to make full use of a truly beautiful venue you may wish to have your ceremony and reception in one location, and there are many venues that make this possible.

What Type Of Wedding Location Do you Want?

The type of wedding you want is a major consideration when it comes to picking both your ceremony and reception venues.  There are a wide range of venues that provide indoor and outdoor facilities for weddings, including marquees, whilst stately homes, country houses and hotels offer a selection of excellent options for individuals wishing to tie the knot.  For those searching for a quirkier location to say their vows in and/or spend their first hours as a married couple, there are numerous venues that ensure a unique event – think museums, barns, art galleries, botanical gardens or even your favourite sports venue.  Exclusivity may be available at your chosen venue, however, extra fees may apply if you want the venue all to yourself.

Your guest numbers for the day and evening will also help to make your shortlist even shorter.  Whilst final guest numbers are unlikely to be confirmed until the weeks before your special day, having an idea of how many guests you’ll be hosting is important and can quickly rule out some venues and push others to the top of the pile.  Do be aware that many popular venues get booked up many months, or even years, in advance so make sure picking a wedding venue is one of the first things you tick off your to-do list.

How much can you realistically afford?

As touched upon earlier, your wedding venue will be responsible for taking ownership of a large chunk of your budget.  For couples who opt for separate ceremony and reception venues, a recent survey by Brides revealed that the average cost to hire both venues equated to more than a quarter (26%) of their overall wedding budget.

Many venues build tailor-made packages for couples to ensure their budget can go further, with many including the hire price along with the cost of food, drink and service.  Your wedding planner will have an insight into the full cost of hiring a venue and can advise you on which venue not only satisfies your budget, but also has the capacity to deliver the type of wedding you are hoping for.

There are various routes you can take to ensure you hire a venue that works with, not against, your budget.  For example, getting married mid-week or out of season can cut costs considerably, whilst avoiding venues that charge corkage if you’ve decided to supply your own alcohol can also save a lot of money.

Does your venue provide food to your liking?

Many wedding venues have a list of recommended suppliers, including those used to provide catering, but if the menu offered by their preferred supplier isn’t to your liking or you already have an alternative in mind to complement your overall theme, can you choose to use outside caterers?  In the majority of circumstances, the answer is ‘yes’.  For some couples the convenience of a full service venue may be a godsend, removing the responsibility that comes with booking all of the vendors yourself, but for others shopping around for outside suppliers is all a part of creating a unique event.

Before you sign on the dotted line to book your venue, make sure you enquire about whether you have to use required vendors as part of the service, it may just make up your mind for you!

Have you considered all the logistics?

Ensuring that your chosen wedding venue is accessible to the majority, if not all, of your guests is vital, after all you don’t want to send out your invitations and find that most of your guests don’t have the means to join you.  With all the emotion and excitement that comes with the wedding planning experience, it is easy to get lost and forget about the realities of your big day, realities that your wedding planner will be quick to remind you of.  

Considering the distance between your ceremony and reception venue, if applicable, is the first step to making sure your logistics are on point ahead of your wedding day.  If your chosen reception venue is close to a hotel or has on-site accommodation then that could earn you extra brownie points if your guests have a long way to travel.  Whilst the style, cost and capacity of your venue should be oh-so-you, choosing a venue in a fitting location is all about bearing in mind what is best for your guests.  If you have decided to select a venue in an area that holds a special place in your heart but is a little further away from the homes of attending family members and friends, then spare a thought for how your guests will travel there and possibly provide them with transport from a more convenient nearby location.

In addition to confirming what time your event must end, enquiring whether you can get early access on the day or even the day before to set up will also ensure preparations go ahead smoothly.
When it comes to the search for your perfect venue hiring an experienced wedding planner to lead the way is always helpful, and my venue search service offers many benefits for couples looking to tie the knot.  For more information please contact me, without obligation.

+44 (0) 7956 427 027
+44 (0) 1727 828 488

1 Spinney Row, Napsbury Park, St Albans, Hertfordshire, AL2 1GQ