Choosing a wedding venue is probably the most important planning decision you’ll make when organising your wedding.
Your wedding venue choice will dictate other details of your special day, so deciding where to hold it has to take priority in the planning process.
The first thing to remember is there will probably be two parts to your wedding – the ceremony and the reception. You may choose to have these at separate venues if you marry in church or at a register office. Or you may opt to have everything in one place.
If you go down the ‘everything in one place’ route, there are limits to where you can get married. For example, unless you live in Scotland, you can’t get married in your back garden. A venue must be licensed for civil weddings and generally only register offices, stately homes, hotels and other historic buildings hold this license. A quick search on your local council’s website or at the register office will tell you which venues hold the license.
The average wedding guest list is about 100 people but don’t guess at your numbers, make a list. This list may be divided into three – those you want to invite to the ceremony, those you want to invite to the post-ceremony reception and those you will invite to the evening reception.
Once you have an idea of a date and how big a venue you need, you can begin to search.
Questions to ask when choosing your wedding venue:
- Is your chosen date available? Most weddings are held from May to September, and in December. Being flexible with dates allows for a lot more choice and since you can’t always guarantee sunshine in August, quieter months may be a good option – plus think of the savings on your honeymoon outside of school holidays
- Is there an in-house wedding coordinator who will help coordinate the day and deal with any problems?
- Will yours be the only wedding at that venue on your chosen date?
- Are confetti, candles, fireworks, balloons etc allowed? Some venues don’t allow certain items so ask about restrictions
- What is supplied with the venue hire? Lighting, flowers, tableware, cutlery, place cards, cake stand and knife?
- Is there a curfew time at the venue? Ie. What time does the band or DJ have to stop playing?
- Do they suggest timings for the reception? You will need to know this to coordinate the time of the ceremony
- Is there space for a drinks reception and where would it be held?
- Can they erect a marquee? Marquees can be made suitable for winter weddings as well as summer but check toilet and cloakroom arrangements. Are they near, what if it’s raining or icy?
- Do they offer discounts of any sort? Special room rates, cheaper hire on certain days (sometimes Saturdays are more expensive)?
- What are the car parking arrangements? Is there adequate parking? Can guests leave their cars overnight and collect the following day?
- Is there a smoking area?
- If a winter wedding or it is raining, where are photographs taken?
- Is there room for a coach? Some people choose to hire a coach to take guests from the ceremony to the reception
- Is it possible to block book rooms in advance? If the venue is a hotel, many guests may want to stay the night
- Does the venue offer any extras? For example flowers, a complementary bottle of champagne, or a room for the bride to get ready in.
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