Other than deciding to get married, this may well be the second most important decision you make about your wedding day! Faced with so many wonderful venues to choose from it can be a daunting task, and it’s very easy to be dazzled by looks alone. Just like any lasting relationship though, it’s not just about beauty!
We’ve compiled this handy ‘checklist’ to use from start to finish, to help you refine your choices until ‘the one’ stands out like a beacon from all the rest.
Before you start:
|Question||Consider this||Your shortlist|
|Where?||Which county or area in the UK will best suit you, your families and friends? If everyone’s spread around the country, perhaps look for good motorway access, and consider somewhere central to everyone. If you have key guests from overseas, consider proximity to the airports they’ll fly into.
Which country might work best for a destination wedding – consider travel times, likely costs and time needed off work for your guests before you decide.
|When?||Time of year is important for the look and feel of your wedding – a hot summer day in glorious grounds, or a cosy winter barn with a wonderland feel?
Day of week as well as time of year will also affect the budget significantly.
|What?||What type of venue? Many brides grow up with a mind’s eye view of their surroundings on their wedding day –and if that’s a sweeping staircase in a country house, or a beautiful barn in a rural setting, we say we say that should be the guiding light. For those of you with no fixed idea, try to narrow down the type of venue by leafing through online wedding directories sorted by Venue Type. Don’t over-think it, go with your emotional response.
What type of hire? There’s quite a difference between exclusive hire venues that offer a private event for you and your guests only, or a hotel or public venue with other users.
|Why?||An odd question on the face of it, but understanding your reasons to get married and how you see your day is an important one. Of course the answer for all couples will be ‘because we love each other’, but to narrow it down:
Is the ceremony itself with close family the most important thing to you – or is it having a big party with all your friends and family to celebrate with you? If a church wedding’s a must, what venues are near your church? If you want a civil ceremony at the venue, do they have a separate ceremony room, or licenced outdoor area?A big difference in your shared vision may also be whether your wedding day is the start of your life journey together, or a celebration of the wonderful years you’ve already shared.
Starting the selection process – venue information
Now’s the time to start requesting information from the venues’ web sites to help narrow things down to a viewing list. Their responses can provide useful insight into what the venue team will be like to deal with throughout your journey from first viewing to the day itself.
|How fast?||A fast response to your enquiry will indicate professionalism, and an understanding that you’re very keen to receive what you’ve asked for! Some successful venues have systems that will send you the information automatically within minutes 24/7, followed up by a friendly team member once you’ve had time to review what’s been sent.
A slow response could indicate a small and overworked team.
|How useful?||Is the information enough for you to get a clear idea of how your day might run, what flexibility you have at the venue, the menus, food and drink prices, and any FAQs to answer lots of other questions before you spend your time going to visit?
If you still need to contact the venue to get answers to a raft of questions, it might indicate they’re not as ‘customer focused’ as you’d want them to be.
|How many?||Absolutely no harm in getting in lots of information from lots of venues – but don’t get overwhelmed! Double check your choices against your original shortlist answers to see if you can rule any out before you start clicking.|
|How much?||Budget is of course key, so make a careful comparison of the venue’s costs, and be sure you compare ‘like for like’. Be sure to read any supplementary information, to include special things you really want to include for your day. Once done, you can relax and enjoy your venue viewings with confidence in your budget.|
Questions to Ask at your Venue Viewings
So, you’ve spent hours looking at venue web sites online, then whittled them down after poring over their information, and set your budget. And now you’re ready to view the fabulous venues you’ve shortlisted!
Most of the questions you’ll ask at your viewing will be specific to ideas for your day – can you have a double decker bus coming down the main drive, can the bride arrive on horseback – that kind of thing! The person viewing with you should be able to answer all your questions, to listen to your requirements and tailor to your choices, eg summer or winter wedding, large or small, special catering requirements. They will make useful suggestions based on their experience that will bring things to life and help you imagine how your day will unfold. Flexibility of how you use the venue is important so that your wedding is unique to you, so don’t be afraid to ask – there’s no such thing as a stupid question!
To compare all the venues you view, you might draw up your own prioritised list of questions to see how many ‘boxes’ are ticked for each one. List ‘must haves’ first, followed by those you could live without if you had to.
How to decide?
Having taken such an organised and logical approach so far, this is often the easiest and shortest part of the process – because, ultimately, it comes down to an emotional choice! Just like finding your true partner, or the house of your dreams, you need to fall in love with your venue! A strong emotional response during your viewing (even including some unexpected tears) will be sure to tell you when you’ve found ‘the one’….!!
The Heritage Venues Team