What venue you choose will effect all of your decisions that follow. It can feel stressful, especially when nothing you've seen online matches up to the vision you have in your head. Where do you start? What's important and how do you choose? Here are 7 top tips for finding your dream wedding venue...
Tip #1 - Gather The Facts
Before you begin your search, you need to decide on a few pre-qualifying factors.
Budget: There's no point In looking for venues when you don't know how much you can afford to spend on one. Deciding on a budget is the very first thing you need to do. From there you can break it down and figure out how much of it you can deligate to the wedding venue and which price bracket you're looking in. Don't waste time looking at venues that aren't within your reach. It will only lead to dissapointment.
Numbers: How many guests do you want to invite? Is it going to be a fairly intimate wedding that only requires a small space, or do you need to find a venue that will allow for 200 friends and family members?
Location: Where you hold your wedding will also have a knock on effect to the rest of your day. Are the mojority of your guests coming from one area? Do you have guests who won't be able to travel very far? Does travelling matter to you? Long before I was born, my parents got married in my mothers quaint little church in Mudford, Sommerset. She had her heart set on being married by her vicar who had christened and confirmed her, but all of their friends lived in Surrey. SO, they decided to have the ceremony in Mudford, toddle across the road for a swift bevvie in the local pub, and then travel the 2 hour journey to Surrey for the reception. Some may find that bonkers, but to them it was magic.
Tip #2 - Know Your Non-negotiables
It's important to sit down with your partner and write a priorities list. More importantly than priorities though, you need to know your non-negotiables. What will you absolutely not compromise on? For example, you might decide you have your heart set on filling the wedding breakfast with candlelight, but many venues don't permit real candles. It might be that the venue absolutely has to be within 30 minutes of your church or home town, in which case it would narrow down the search for you.
Tip #3 - But also... Be Open Minded
You should absolutely know your priorites, but don't be too close-minded. Having a check list is good, but don't expect to find a wedding venue that ticks all of the boxes. Sometimes it's just not realistic and you have to be a bit flexible. As long as the key points are covered, you should be able to bend in other areas. A venue may have carpeted floors instead of wooden ones, and the walls might be cream instead of white, but is it the end of the world? Maybe you were really hoping for a water feature at the entrance of the venue, but is that honestly something your guests will remember after passing it briefly on the way in and stumbling back past it on the way out? My point is, don't sweat the small stuff. Some things really aren't as important as you might think.
Tip #4 - Look At Local Photographer's Images
Once you've chosen your location, you can start to have a look at photographers in the area. Chances are, they'll have done the rounds at all the local wedding venues. You'll get a chance to see pictures of real weddings and how they looked at the different venues. It might also give you an idea of the different ways you could style them. Often photographers will credit other suppliers that were involved, so it's also a good way of finding suppliers that might be worth looking at for your own wedding.
Tip #5 - Have Questions Ready
Before visiting any wedding venues, compile a list of questions. It's likely by the time you've got there and had a look around, you'll have forgotten half of the things you wanted to know, and come home feeling frustrated that you didn't find out if there is a corkage fee or what the curfew is. To save yourself time from emailing back and forth, have all of these questions written down. Once you've got them answered, file them somewhere, or create a spreadsheet where you can enter all of the information. When it comes to comparing venues that you've visited, you'll be able to see exactly which boxes have been ticked.
Tip #6 - Take Photos and Notes When Attending a Site Visit
You might end up visiting a large number of different wedding venues. You're not going to remember everything about all of them. The last thing you want when trying to make a final decision, is to realise you've forgotten what it looks like or what the facts are. ALWAYS take photos or videos as you go. Capture everything and anything that might be a deciding factor for you; the drinks reception area, the wedding breakfast and reception space, THE TOILETS! If it matters, snap away. It's also a good idea to take notes of any information you might forget. Have plenty of material to refer back to when it's crunch time. It will also be useful to have all of this when you come to creating the wedding design.
Tip #7 - Visit More Than Once If You Need To
You might still be unsure how you feel after you've visited a wedding venue, or perhaps you think the first one was your favourite, but you've seen so many since then that you can't actually remember exactly what you thought about it. You are more than entitled to visit a venue twice, even three times if you really need to! Don't be afraid to ask if you can come back. There should be no pressure to sign on the dotted line, and if there is then it probably isn't the venue for you. So go see it again! Be certain of how you feel before you lock it in.
It's a big decision, so take your time. Do the research, get all the facts, look at reviews and make sure, you're sure. There's a wedding venue out there for everyone, so don't feel disheartened if it's taking longer than you thought it would. If you need any help with venue sourcing, then I'm here to help, so drop me an email on firstname.lastname@example.org and let's find your dream venue together.