How to find your dream wedding venue
Once you’ve said ‘yes!’ there is nothing more exciting than diving into your wedding planning adventure and the first step that usually gets those excited butterflies dancing is choosing your wedding venue. Whether you picture an exclusive stately home for an epic wedding weekend in the English countryside or a light-filled orangery close to the centre of London, the venue is your stage for the big day, so it is important to get it right. With endless options to choose from it can be a daunting process, but today I’m going to share my expertise as a Surrey based UK wedding planner to guide you through the process and help you find the perfect place.
Whether you envision an intimate affair or a sizable celebration it is important to know your numbers.
It may not be the most glamorous part of planning, but you need to work out your wedding budget before you start your search. Discuss your total budget, as well as approximately what your overall design will cost to achieve (or chat to a wedding planner for support). With this information you can work out the estimated percentage of your budget that is allocated to your venue. From there, consider how many guests you plan to invite and make sure you check the capacity of possible venues.
Next, consider your non-negotiables.
Sit down with your partner and list what you absolutely ‘must have’, for example, if you know you want to dance until dawn you will need to check if prospective venues have sound restrictions and what time they will ask you to depart. Have your heart set on fireworks at midnight? Again, check this is allowed at your venue. Your non-negotiables may also include requirements such as the proximity to your home, accommodation for your guests, the option to have a legal outdoor ceremony or the choice to bring in your own caterers rather than use the in-house catering service. When you start your search, it is always worth asking the venue what is not permitted, as there are often some restrictions.
Having a list of non-negotiables means you will be able to narrow down your choice of venues quickly and effectively, helping you to find the perfect match for you as a couple.
Now for the fun part...
It’s time to think about the style of wedding you desire and check the venue aligns with your vision. Go ahead, peruse your Pinterest boards and check if a theme is emerging. If your pinned images are all luxe, black-tie formal then you may want to consider a castle, mansion, or iconic London venue. If a relaxed English garden wedding is more your vibe, then you will seek venues with stunning outside spaces. The venue will play a huge role in the style and ambiance you wish to create and can influence your choice of décor, dress and even the photography style!
At this point in your planning journey, it is a good idea to start your desk research. There are a number of online wedding directories that you can search through, but just remember that not all venues are listed on each directory and some will only market on their own websites. As a wedding planner, I have a little black book of wedding venues (including hidden gems), which I use to make tailored recommendations to my full planning clients.
A few points to consider…
- Is the venue located at a convenient place for guests and how will they get there? If your guests are travelling, you will need to check if there is suitable accommodation on site or located nearby.
- Check what is included in the price. Some venues have in house-catering and furniture included whereas others are a blank canvas, so you will need to arrange all the suppliers and equipment yourself. It’s a good idea to ask if the venue requires you to choose from a list of specific supplies and then check if you are happy with the choices.
- Ask about the flow of the day. Are there separate areas for the ceremony, reception and cocktail hour? This is important to find out as if the ceremony and reception are in the same room you will need to consider the turnaround time and where your guest will be whilst suppliers are setting up.
Once you have this information, compile a shortlist of your favourite choices, and get in touch, asking for their brochure and checking availability.
Finally, ask a few more questions and then schedule visits to your top three choices – happy hunting!
This should give you a good overview of how to start your search, but if you have any questions or need some support finding the perfect venue click here and book in a discovery call and find out how I can help you.