Your wedding venue is probably the biggest decision you will make as an engaged couple. After your engagement, it’s probably the first thing you will book. Here are some great tips on How To Choose a Wedding Venue.
Sit down with your partner and discuss the type of wedding you both want. Like any major life decision you both need to be on board with what you decide. It is important you share your ideas so you can reach a compromise if you have different ideas for the perfect wedding! Obviously, your budget, the number of guests, and whether you are having a church ceremony or civil ceremony will influence the venues that are suitable.
Set A Budget (And Stick To It!)
Like house hunting, it’s easy to get carried away and overspend. Most couples budget 50% of the wedding budget on the venue, food and drinks. You don’t want to rush in and have to cut corners everywhere else. The budget will help you to shortlist potential venues. If you are flexible with your date and are happy to tie the knot in autumn or winter you can save a lot of money and so the more prestigious venues can now be part of that shortlist.
As part of your enquiry to any venue, it’s definitely worth asking the venue wedding coordinator if there are any deals they can offer you for choosing their venue. This is especially true during out of season dates. They may offer you the bridal suite or some rooms for the guests. They might also offer you deals on welcome drinks and canapés. Some recommended suppliers that work repeatedly with the venue might also offer a discount if you book through the venue too.
Set A Date
Some couples might have an important date, for example when the proposal took place, a parents or grandparents anniversary or when they first met. You might just like a particular time of year and are flexible with the day. If you are flexible with the date you might be surprised at the price differences outside the summer months! Being flexible with your date will ensure you have a wider choice of venues to choose from.
The location of your venue will be determined by a number of things. If you are having a church wedding it is advisable to have the reception at most 30 minutes drive from the church. If you are having the ceremony and reception at the venue you need to consider how easy is it for your most important guests to get to. Has the venue got enough rooms for guests or are there nearby hotels? If you have elderly or disabled guests is it easy to get around for them?
You don’t want to find out your elderly Gran won’t be able to get outside for the group shot on the wedding day. You must also consider guests travelling to your wedding. If you are concerned about taxi or hotel costs for them or the cost of putting on a coach for you, it might be a good idea to choose a venue that is close to where most of your guests live.
Look At Photographer And Wedding Blog Websites
Once you have the shortlist you can view what the venue really looks like on a wedding day by viewing featured weddings on photographers websites or wedding blogs. You might get some ideas too! Most photographers and blogs will list the vendors involved in the day, so if you see something you like the contact details are just a click away!
Here are some good wedding blogs:
Check Available Dates Before You Visit Venues
If you are having a church wedding its best to check the available dates for both venues before you arrange any visits. If you are having the ceremony at the venue it is still good practice to check availability before you visit. You don’t want to waste your time and a few tears if you fall in love with a venue on your visit and then discover your date is gone!
Choose Your Theme After The Venue
You don’t want a colour and style mismatch if you have chosen silver and red and the venue has gold chairs. Also the venue will dictate what themes you can use. If you have chosen a rustic barn wedding, you are more likely to choose a tea party or country-style theme for example.
If you have chosen a wedding venue for the opportunity to have an outside ceremony you must be happy with the contingency plan if it rains. You might not like the rooms used in the event of bad weather.
The Venue Lighting
If photography is important to you (I hope so!) then the lighting of the venue is very important for good photographs. Big windows in the ceremony room are a big plus and will make your photographs really pop. In general, dark, badly lit venues will not get the best from your photographs. Venues with lots of natural light will help your photographer get the best images
Arrange A Visit When The Venue Is Set Up For A Wedding
Try to arrange a visit when the venue is set up for a wedding. That way you will can asses what the venue looks like with the tables down, how much room is on the dance floor, and where the band will go etc.
Have A Set Of Questions
You need to make a list of all of your questions and meet somebody who can answer all of them. Your list of questions needs to be answered on the initial phone call. When you visit the venue you can ask the same questions again. You might get different answers the second time around. Don’t be afraid to enquire about every last detail. It’s your special day and you have the right to be a little annoying! (Although you might not want to take it to the point where they stop answering your calls!)
Walk away instantly from any pushy or bossy venues. Some venues become a little too big for their boots when they become sought after and the customer service suffers. Make sure you know what is included in the venue hire. Are the tables and chairs part of the package or do you need to hire them from outside? Are there any restrictions in place? If you like to party into the small hours, you don’t want a venue who expects you in bed with your hot chocolate by 12!
You will probably see a lot of venues and it’s hard to take it all in and remember all of the small details. Take photographs of all of the main rooms and things you like or dislike. You can then review each venue at your leisure.
Visit The Venue A Few Times
Once you think you have found the ‘one’ visit the venue at different parts of the day. Try to speak to as many of the management as possible, a bad vibe should set off your alarm bells.
Ask For Referrals
Most good venues will be happy to pass on details of previous satisfied clients who are happy to share their experiences with you. How was the food? Was there any difficult staff? Did everything go reasonably smoothly?
Recap Email After Visit
Send a polite email to the venue after the meeting to thank them and also to recap everything that was discussed. That way you can keep track of everything.
Most venues give you exclusive use of the venue, but it’s worth checking just in case. It won’t feel good to listen to the thumping bass of another wedding party when you are sitting down for your meal. Make sure if there are other events on the day there is plenty of space between the two parties.
Taste The Food
Organise a tasting session a few months before the big day if the food is in-house. (Most good venues will do this as standard). Maybe take a friend or parents with you for a second opinion. You need to make the venue aware of any dietary requirements or if any guests have any allergies. It might be an idea to taste some of the wines if you plan to serve wine at the wedding breakfast.
When To Book
Like in-demand photographers and videographers, you need to be booking at least 12-18 months before the wedding date. This will also give you plenty of time to plan your perfect day. The big wedding venues are booked up a long time before during the peak season summer months so it’s wise to book as soon as you have found the perfect venue for you. If you are planning a wedding in just a few months there are a lot of last-minute bargains to be had! Most venues will heavily discount cancelled dates so you might get lucky and get your dream venue for a song!
Don’t Sign Up Until You Have Viewed All Of Your Venue Shortlist
It’s easy to get caught up in the moment and get carried away! You might think the venue is everything you are looking for, (it might well be) but you need to see the other venues for some objectivity. Don’t succumb to any pressure to sign up on the first meeting. You need to assess each venue and most importantly your budget with a cool detached head. That way you can make sure your budgeting is right if you give yourself a few days to think it over.
The Venue Is Not Booked Until A Deposit Is Paid.
Until the contract is signed and the booking fee is paid your date will not be secure. It might help if you ask the venue to let you know if anybody else is interested in your date. This will hopefully help you avoid a big disappointment.
I hope this guide has been useful in your search for your dream wedding venue! If you are getting married in Liverpool check out my post Top Wedding Venues in Liverpool. Good luck in your search and I hope you find the venue that suits you best.
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If you are still searching for a wedding photographer feel free to view my portfiolio or see more featured weddings below!