Your wedding venue is probably the first big decision you’ll make when planning a wedding. There’s a lot to think about, so this can be a tough decision. Here’s how to find and choose the perfect one.
Types of Wedding Venue
The most traditional wedding venue is a house of worship, such as a church or mosque. These are usually available for the wedding only, but some also offer reception space. Hotel weddings are also popular, as you can usually have the whole day in one place. For large weddings, banquet halls work well. Looking for a rustic venue? Choose a barn. You could also get married at a vineyard, winery, garden, country house, restaurant, city hall, or even at home. No one type of wedding venue is better than another. It all depends on your tastes and needs for your wedding venue.
What To Look For When Choosing A Wedding Venue
When you start looking, dozens of venues are bound to come up. Narrowing down which ones are worth visiting can be tough. Start by considering some important factors.
- Budget. What is your budget? If you’re on a tighter budget, look for packages, as these are often cheaper. Many venues don’t list their prices on the website, so you may have to call to enquire. Don’t look at a venue that you can’t afford, or you’re sure to feel disappointed when you can’t book it.
- Location. Where do you want to get married? Is the venue easy to travel to? Is there enough parking for those who will drive? What public transport is available to those who won’t? Are there enough hotels nearby for all your guests/
- Space. How many people will the venue hold? It’s no good falling for a huge country manor for 500 guests if you only want 50, and it’s equally troublesome to view an intimate public garden with room for 50 if you want 500.
- Personality. Does the venue suit your style? If you’re a modern couple, is that church really for you? If you’ve always dreamed of a classic white wedding, is a funky downtown restaurant the best pick?
When Is The Right Time Book A Venue?
Popular wedding venues often book up well in advance, so most people book their venue at least a year in advance of their wedding. From first-hand experience with managing Davenport House, a large country house wedding venue in Shropshire, this is when most of our couples tend to book the venue.
If you want to get married on a weekday or a less popular time of year, then you might be able to leave it a little longer, but booking too close to your preferred date is generally not a good idea. Sometimes, if you book really far in advance, you may be able to get a bit of a discount too.
Where Do You Find Wedding Venues?
Google is the place where most couples start when they start looking for their wedding venue. Search for ‘wedding venues near me’ or search for wedding venues in the area you want to get married. You should find plenty of options this way and will find both venues’ own websites and listing sites.
Wedding fairs can also be a good place to find a venue. Many venues hold their own wedding fairs, so you can see how the venue might look when dressed for a wedding, look around the venue and find some local wedding vendors at the same time.
Wedding Venues On A Budget
If you’re on a budget, don’t worry. There are some great options for wedding venues.
- Family property. Does a family member have a large, beautiful garden? Maybe you could get married there? Garden weddings at home are very popular and can make for beautiful, relaxed ceremonies, with no money spent.
- Small venues. Small restaurants, local bars, and town halls often have space for weddings that will be much cheaper than larger venues. If you’re planning a smaller wedding, one of these could be ideal.
- Book early. Many venues offer deals for those willing to book well in advance.
- Choose an unpopular time. Most people want to get married in the Spring or Summer, on a Saturday. These make those days much more expensive, thanks to the increased demand. If you don’t mind when you get married, you can save a lot by choosing a weekday, or getting married in the Winter or Fall.
- Book a package. Lots of venues offer package deals, where you get venue, food, and items like flowers all included. These can often be cheaper and mean you know exactly what everything will cost from very early on, so you know how much you need to save.
Questions To Ask A Wedding Venue Rep
When you go to look at a wedding venue, you should ask the person who shows you round lots of questions, so you can find out as much as you can to help you make the right choice. When you’re looking, it can be hard to remember all those questions, so it might be useful to write them down before you go. You could also email over all your questions before the appointment, so your rep can find out the answers to anything they’re not sure about before you arrive.
Start with the basics to make sure the venue has everything you need. Ask questions about the space, and the practicalities, like setting up for the ceremony, and how the reception will work. If you need something specific, like wheelchair access, a quiet space for people to get away, or unisex toilets, your viewing is the time to ask.
- Is the venue available on the date that you need it?
- How many guests can the venue accommodate?
- What are their wedding packages and what is included in those packages?
- Will there be other events at the same time as your wedding, or will the venue be yours exclusively?
- Is there somewhere that you can get ready at the venue?
- Can you bring in outside food if you don’t want to use their catering?
- How long can you have the room for? Can you drop things off the day before, set up the night before, and leave things to collect the next day if you need to?
- Who will decorate the venue? When will you be able to get in to decorate if the venues don’t set up themselves?
- Is there a smoking area?
- Is the venue accessible to wheelchair users?
- Is there a cloakroom?
- Is there a bar? What sort of bar?
- Is there a secure area to store gifts?
Ask some questions about how the venue is set up for weddings. Usually, you have to view venues empty (although you may be lucky and be able to see it set up for someone else’s wedding if the venue is ready in advance). If you can’t see your venue dressed for a wedding, these questions can help you to picture what it will look like.
- How is the room usually laid out for a wedding? What layout options are there?
- Do they have photos of past weddings at the venue?
- Can you see it dressed for a wedding?
- Who will be the contact on the day of the wedding?
- What will you need to bring yourself? Ask about things like stands for signage, cake stands, a cake knife, and any other practical and decorative items that you aren’t sure who will provide.
Ask about decorations. Some venues have some basic decorations that they will put up for you, while others expect you to bring in everything. Some will have rules about things like lit candles or confetti, so ask first.
- When can you start decorating?
- Are there any restrictions on decorations that you can bring in?
- Can you have candles?
- Can guests throw confetti?
- What decorations does the venue provide?
- How many people can sit at each table?
- Will they provide items like menus or place cards?
- Are there high chairs available for children?
Ask plenty of questions about the food, especially if you have dietary requirements.
- What are the different ways that the venue can serve food, such as buffet, family, or silver service?
- Do they have in-house catering or preferred caterers?
- Can you arrange a menu tasting? Is there a cost for this?
- Are any drinks provided with the meal or for the toast?
- Can they accommodate dietary needs?
- How many menu choices can you offer your guests?
If you plan to serve alcohol, either via the venue’s bar or by bringing in your own, you should ask a few questions about this.
- Does the venue have a liquor license/
- Does the venue provide the alcohol and the bar service?
- Are any drinks included in the price of your bookings, such as a welcome drink, wine with the meal, and a drink for toasting during the speeches?
- Is there a cash or an open bar?
- Is there a charge per bartender, or will the venue hire them?
- What happens to any unopened bottles after the reception has finished? Will you be charged for these?
- Can you bring in your own alcohol? Is there a corkage fee for this?
- Are there any restrictions on their alcohol service?
For your reception, ask plenty of questions about music, dancing, or any other entertainment that you think you might like to have.
- Does the venue have their own band or DJ? Do they have ones they recommend? Can you bring in your own?
- What kind of sound system do they have? If you need microphones for speeches, do they have those?
- When can the band, DJ, or other entertainers set up?
- What time do they allow you to play music until?
- Can you bring in things like a photo booth? What are the rules for this?
- Are there any photography or video restrictions?
Don’t forget to ask about the money too. Even if you know the overall cost or cost per head, you may have more questions.
- Can you set up a payment plan?
- What deposit is required, and when by?
- When must the balance be paid?
- What payment options are available?
- What is the cancellation policy?
If you’re getting married outdoors, you should plan for the weather turning out badly for you. Nobody likes to think about it, but you should make sure that your venue has a back-up option available, just in case.
- Are there any covered areas outdoors in case of rain?
- Is there an indoor space you could move to?
- Is there a generator for power outages?
Don’t forget to talk about some of the practical points that your guests will need to know too.
- Is there overnight accommodation at the venue? Do they have deals with local hotels? Is there anywhere that they recommend?
- What are the room rates for overnight stays for guests?
- Is there a discount available for a block of rooms or rooms for guests?
- Is there parking at the venue? How many spots? Where else can guests park if there aren’t enough?
- Is there a valet service?
- Is there a cost to park?
- Is there anything else going on nearby on the same date that may make it hard for guests to find somewhere to park?
- Is there a local taxi firm that they partner with to offer discounted rides to guests staying elsewhere?
It can feel like you’re asking endless questions, but it’s important to get all the information you need. As well as being beautiful, you want to make sure that your venue can cater for all your needs, whether that’s plenty of parking for all your guests, a safe, nut-free menu for your cousin with allergies, rooms for out-of-town guests, or a payment plan to spread out the costs. Much of this information can often be found on the venue’s websites or in their wedding brochures, so spend some time looking through these. Make notes, and don’t be afraid to make notes during your viewing to help you remember everything.
Start your research early, so you have plenty of time to find your dream venue, at the right price and with everything that you might need.
And if you need wedding dresses, bridesmaid dresses, bridal accessories and more, check out Best for Bride website.
Author Bio – Lizzie Adams
Lizzie Adams is the owner of the wedding business Davenport House which is a luxurious wedding venue located in the heart of Shropshire. Lizzie’s background as an international wedding planner and the stunning weddings created at Davenport means that couples get access to the very best wedding planning at the gorgeous Stately home and estate. From progressive, modern weddings to the more traditional country house affairs, Lizzie has seen it and planned it all. Lizzie is active on Facebook and Instagram and she’s happy to answer all of your wedding-related questions.