It’s that time of year where wedding venues open their doors to couples looking for a wedding venue. There are so many options from grand manor houses, to fairytale castles, luxury hotels and idyllic country barns, to name a few. Whichever venue you choose to host your wedding, it is likely you will view a number. It is important you know all the important details about your potential wedding venue. Here I am sharing my top questions to ask wedding venues, before you sign on the dotted line….
Before we get started, don’t let venues pressure you into making a decision on the day of your first viewing. Go away and discuss as a couple and with any other involved parties. Take into consideration the location, the available dates and the price, plus all the answers to the below questions!…
There may be different spaces in which you could host different parts of your day. Be sure to know the number of guests that can be accommodated in the different spaces, both for a ceremony, a standing reception and seated. This can help you think about using more than one space for different parts of your day. It can also ensure you don’t let your imagination run wild with the impossible. Make sure you know all the possibilities before you make the commitment.
Linked to the question above but if you have your heart set on an outside ceremony or reception, although your planning will mostly be based on this happening, make sure there is an alternative “Plan B” for inclement weather (think about an unexpected heatwave as well as rain!). For peace of mind, allow for a suitable alternative that you are happy with should you need to decide in the run up to the wedding that the out outdoors option is not going to be possible.
TOP TIP: If you make all your guests comfortable (Think; warm enough, enough shade, seating, enough food and drinks…) they will enjoy your wedding day so much more.
With the recent news in the budget last week, this could be a question of the past with the law opening up to allow weddings in any space. For the moment, the law requires you to get married in a licenced venue. If you want to have your ceremony and your reception in the same venue, make sure you know which areas are licenced. Most venues are only licenced for one or two areas.
Some venues hire out specific rooms, others it’s the building and others it’s the whole venue including the land. Understand what is being hired and make sure you are very clear about this. Every couple is different about what is important to them, but if privacy is a must you may want to consider a venue which is completely exclusive use. Other couples like the idea of other people being around to congratulate them.
There is a wide variety of venue hire types. Ranging from dry-hire where you have to arrange everything from furniture, tableware, caterers and anything else you want at your wedding. To the other end of the scale where it’s all there for you, you just choose the menu and what music you want played. Most venues are somewhere in between. Understand what is included from furniture, to glassware, any coordination help and the catering.
Some venues licence for music and alcohol end at 11, others at midnight others at 1am or later. There might also be a possibility for paying for an extended licence. Think about your timeline of the day and think when you might want your wedding to end.
TOP TIP: Generally, 8 hours is a good length for a wedding reception. This would comprise of a 1 hour drinks reception, 3 hours for the wedding breakfast and speeches, and 4 hours of dancing. Think about the time it will take to get from the ceremony to the reception venue (if at a separate venue) and how long the ceremony will last. This is one of my big focuses so I have a lot more to say on this topic but this is a good place to start.
Some venues provide a suppliers list where you can choose from a shortlist of different suppliers from caterers to florists, others have a suggested list but allow you to choose whichever suppliers you wish. In some instances an in-house caterer must be used but you are allowed to choose other suppliers e.g. florists, band. Make sure you know what your venue requests in regards to suppliers and check them out before you agree to anything.
Have a look at the places suggested for your newly-wed portraits and any group shots you may like. These locations will help you decide if this is the right venue for you. Your photographs are one of the key ways you will remember your wedding day on a daily basis so make sure you like the places for photos.
TOPTIP: Ask the venue to see any photos from past weddings or look online and on social media. This will help you to visualise what your wedding photos may look like.
This is both for the morning before the wedding and after the wedding too. If you’re imagining a big production wedding with lots of floral installations and props but want your wedding to start at midday, you need to make sure there is enough setup time. Same with at the end of the day with derigging.
If some of your guests will be travelling from afar what are their nearest accommodation options? Is there a hotel which the venue has a preferred rate for wedding guests? Where does the bride and groom normally stay after their wedding at the venue?
Some venues request you use their champagne and wine, others charge a corkage fee per bottle consumed (this can vary from a few pounds to the costs of the house bottle) others don’t charge you anything for bringing your own wine and champagne. If this is important to you, make sure you know the way the venue works.
Some venues add a service charge to your total bill, others quote pre-VAT costs and there may be other charges you are not aware of. Make sure you ask this question and be sure you know the full amount you need to pay so you can budget your wedding accordingly.
Possibly not at the top of your list of things to think about but accidents can happen and you want to be safe in the knowledge that if anything does happen the venue has full insurance to cover anything.
For any questions you have about the venue during the planning process and leading up to the day, who will be your point of contact? Do they offer any other services to assist you in the wedding planning? It’s important to know this from the start and be clear how much help you will or won’t be given.
TOPTIP: If your dream venue doesn’t offer as much help as you might like, consider hiring a wedding planner who can help you keep on track, make suggestions based on professional experience and keep on top of any wedmin you might not have time to do in your already busy life!
Understand who will be there on the day and what their role will be. It will make you enjoy your day so much more knowing someone is there overseeing everything. Someone keeping an eye on all your guests, making sure they are all happy, overseeing the reception drinks, dinner service and the set-up of the band.
This is a service I offer as part of my full wedding planning, partial wedding planning and month-of wedding planning. I will always be there on the day to make sure all your hard work goes to plan, and any slight hiccups get dealt with quickly, without anyone noticing.