Choosing your wedding venue will undoubtedly be one of the biggest decisions you’ll make as an engaged couple, so it’s good to start considering your options right away. If you’re not sure where to hold your wedding, I’ve put together this guide to help you decide.
The venue you pick will determine the amount of guests you can invite, the location of your wedding and, of course, the theme and styling, too. You need to allocate a good proportion of your wedding planning time and budget to finding your dream venue because there are so many different options to consider and look at. From manor houses to stand-alone tipis, and everything in between, it’s just a matter of making your own decision.
Think about whether the venue works with and even enhances your wedding aesthetic. If you want glamorous, an impressive country house or a stunning mansion like the Buhl Mansion Guesthouse & Spa might work for you. Do you want modern? In which case a warehouse or art gallery could be perfect. Do you and your partner love the outdoors? Think about a garden marquee, or castles with large grounds, or a venue connected to something you both love.
One important thing that every couple should do before embarking on their epic wedding planning challenge, is to figure out a realistic budget. A budget may not sound like the most exciting consideration, but without it you’re off to a more complex process falling into the trap of many planning pitfalls and mistakes.
Start by dictating what you want your final wedding spend to be (plus a 5% contingency) and then begin to split up your budget into different areas alongside researching each element such as your venue, food and drink, photographer, dress, cake, flowers and so on.
The price of a wedding venue isn’t just related to the upfront cost of the space. It will also go up depending on the number of people you invite. What’s more, if you want to decorate a venue, the price of decorations will usually scale with the size of the site. Because of this, meticulous budget planning should form a core part of your planning process. You want to find a wedding venue that checks all your boxes without leaving you in financial ruins afterward.
Every event venue has a maximum occupancy limit. You need to know what this limit is especially if you expect a large turnout. It’s helpful to know the number of guests that’s most suitable for the type of space you’re renting. In other words, if the venue has a maximum occupancy of 500, and you expect 480 guests, that’s cutting close to the limit. That means the facility might be a little too small. Likewise, if you and your fiancé want a private ceremony with a close circle of say, 30 guests, then there is no need for a facility designed to hold 500 people.
Even if you’re flexible about the exact date of your wedding, you need to set boundaries. For instance, if you’ve planned your entire event around a summer theme and the venue of your choice is booked solid throughout the season, you’ll need to consider other options. Alternatively, you can be flexible about your theme and look for your dream venue first. Once you have the venue booked for your wedding date, you can start planning the theme and the food.
One of the most important decisions you’ll make is where to position your wedding. You’re likely to have family and friends across the country (or maybe even from across the world!), so choosing a location will be key to making sure everyone can attend. Consider your elderly relatives who may not be able to travel very far or walk up stairs, and it might be worth looking somewhere with great transport connections if everyone is coming from far and wide!
Schedule a Tour
Another important part of how to you choose a wedding venue is actually visiting a few select locations in person. At these in-person visits, you’ll be able to tour the space and decide if it’s the right fit for your big day. Venues may look one way in photos, but entirely different in person so while visiting event spaces might cut into your schedule, they’re super important. You’ll also be able to meet with the venue coordinator, ask any additional questions, and see if you click with the staff.
When you’ve made your choice, request a contract from the venue. Go over every line of the agreement and review it with your wedding planner, if you have one. Watch out for additional costs like set-up or delivery fees that weren’t discussed previously, review the cancellation and refund policy, and ensure you understand exactly what you’re signing.
Remember: Your date is not reserved until the contract is signed, even if you request a soft hold. When you return the contract to the venue coordinator’s hands— then it’s official.
Determining which venue is right for your wedding day is a big decision. Before you begin searching, have the basics in mind. Settle on a style, estimate your guest count, and determine what type of venue works best with your budget. This process helps narrow down the list of prospective venue options and helps you formulate a list of questions to ask the venue. These seven factors can help serve as a checklist for making sure the venue’s right for you.
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