Think like a wedding planner by following this ultimate guide to booking a wedding venue. When researching and booking your wedding venue you need to think deeper than the aesthetics and price of the place. Most couples will not consider these points until later on in the wedding planning process. Being thorough from the offset will save you time, money and provide you with clear expectations from the start.
Wedding Venue Research
Naturally the first thing you will look for is the style of the wedding venue and whether it fits in with your theme. If you want a beach wedding, you are going to want to look into wedding venues by the sea. Pictures of the wedding venue on their website or social media will help you get an idea of the place and whether it meets your criteria.
At this stage you should already know the minimum and maximum number of guests you are going to invite. This must also include your evening guests. You will want to work out whether the venue can accommodate for the size of the party and what rooms they will be able to offer.
Some venues put the ceremony, wedding breakfast and evening reception all in one room. Other venues might want to split your wedding across multiple rooms. Think about the flow of your guests in and out of the different rooms and decide what option you would prefer. There are pros and cons to both so it’s worth bearing them in mind.
Layout relates closely to capacity. However with room capacity in mind, you will want to think about the type of floor layout you want. If you have 100 guests and you want a U-shape layout and the wedding venue states they have capacity for 100 banquet style, your layout will not work.
Can you have your ceremony onsite? Is it licensed or just a blessing? Do you have the option to move inside or outside? This might make or break your choice to select a venue. If they aren’t licensed then you might need to travel to a registry office or Church to get married and that comes with further logistically questions to think about.
It’s not as important as other aspects discussed, but if your wedding venue has accommodation onsite this can be a plus. It means the bridal and / or groom party can get ready onsite without having to travel. It also means you don’t have to go far following the end of the night. This is the same for your guests.
Accommodation onsite is also a great way to extend celebrations the night before and the day after. Weddings are becoming more than just the day. It’s the build up to and the hangover brunches after.
If the venue looks right, you will want to check if your preferred date is available. There is no point visiting the venue if your date is taken. Being flexible on your date will give you more choice, and even cost savings, as weddings venues usually offer different rates for different times of the year.
Probably the obvious one, but you will want to know how much the venue is selling its space for. You can get an idea of the starting price on most wedding venue websites. If your budget cannot allow for the starting price then this wedding venue is not for you. And don’t forget to include any VAT in your budgeting.
Wedding Venue Visit
Access to the Venue
You have your visit booked and your on the way to your venue. When you’re approaching your wedding venue what do you realise? Does the sat-nav take you straight to the entrance, or does it take you somewhere completely different? What type of roads do you get on before you arrive? Are there places for you guests to exclusively park? Knowing your access will help you understand what information you need to share with your guests and what to pre-plan for.
Accessibility also refers to disability access and supplier access. Does the venue have an easy route in and out? Are the grounds even and safe? What access does the venue have for your suppliers to offload and move equipment inside? Your venue and suppliers should be able to advise you on his but if not, think about the size of the equipment and predicted routes they will need to take.
Observe the cleanliness of the venue. If the venue isn’t clean it can make you wonder whether the staffs attention to detail will be there for you on your wedding day. It will also have an effect on your guests comfort and experience. Plus, dirty glasses and plates left around will look untidy and not great in photos.
Food and Drink
Food and Drink Tasting
Before letting your prospective venue known you are interested in booking, treat yourself to dinner and drinks in their restaurant without them knowing you are coming. This way you can get an honest account of what the food and service could be like on your wedding day.
Wedding venues will showcase their best products and service during food and drink tastings as they know they need to win you over. In these instances, they will only have two people to cater for so it wouldn’t be hard for them to go all out to impress you.
Ask about the food and drink options to suit different dietary requirements. Vegetarians, vegans and other dietary requirements often feel shoehorned into having the same style of meal, see if your venue can offer something fresh and exciting. It will make their day to know you thought about them.
Style of Menu
The cost of food and drink also need to be taken into account. The more guests you have, the more costly the bill. Look into the choices they offer; buffet, BBQ’s, food vans, three course sit down meals, canapés. Each type presents itself with extra logistical questions so take time to understand what you want and build this into your wedding plans.
Wedding Venue Questions to Ask
You will want to know whether you are having to share your date with another wedding. This is usually the case for hotels or larger venues. Although you might not cross paths or be directly affected by the other wedding, it is always worth noting in case exclusivity is important to you. It is not just another wedding to look out for, but also whether the venue is open to the public. Often this is the case again for hotels, national heritage, trust sites or leisure facilities.
You will not know exactly what equipment you will need until closer to the wedding date, but you can assume that a wedding venue will be able to supply the necessities such as cake table, round tables, chairs, top table, catering tables etc. A village hall on the other hand might only have 10 trestle tables stored in a cupboard. Get a rough idea of what equipment you and your suppliers will need and take a quick run through with your venue coordinator to ensure everything is covered.
It’s happened to me before. You turn up at the venue on the day and building works are being done while an event is taking place. Unlikely to be the case with weekend weddings, but might be worth asking. Planned building works can disturb your wedding, and it can dramatically changes the appearance of the venue that you originally booked.
This is one of the most overlooked points when deciding a wedding venue. Mainly because at this point, you won’t know what you want at your wedding. It’s worth asking for all eventualities so you are not left disappointed further down the line. Wedding venue’s don’t always make it obvious what the restrictions are from the offset. I’ve noted a few key points below:
- Time restrictions – When you are allowed on site and when you have to be off site. If you expect to run over, be mindful you might get charged additionally for this by the hour without you knowing.
- Noise restrictions – This relates to how long guests can be outside for, as well as sound levels for musicians and DJ’s.
- Fireworks – If you have farms nearby you can bank on this being a no-go.
- Candles – Health and safety is extremely important nowadays. Anything that poses a fire risk could easily be banned by the venue. For some wedding venues it might just be that they set the fire alarms off.
- Drone footage – Private land nearby could cause this to be a restriction at some venues. Or at least create limitations with regards to where you can and can’t fly.
- Confetti – It’s not a bad thing but confetti can cause environmental damage, so often wedding venues recommend other types of confetti that are more biodegradable or easy to remove following the wedding day.
- Decorations – Where you can put decorations up and with what means. Cello tape and blue tack is most commonly banned as it ruins the paint work at the venue. It’s not a cost the wedding venue will want to pay out for every wedding they host.
- Lawn – Keeping a lawn in pristine condition is hard at the best of times. Having a wedding every weekend will be even harder with the number of guests walking on it. Restrictions on the use of the venue grounds is something to consider if you plan on putting out lawn games, marquees or bouncy castles.
- Supplier requirements – Some venues will have recommended suppliers which you will have to use. Check if you are able to select your own suppliers in case the suppliers they offer don’t meet your requirements
Be really clear on what is and what isn’t included in the price. It can become apparent further down the line that things like linen or cutlery are in fact an extra cost which you won’t want to pay out for. You will also want to know the payment schedule, cancellation policy, and terms and conditions to ensure this works with you.
Finally and equally as important, make sure you know who you will be liaising with throughout the wedding planning process. You might be dealing with one person at first and have a different person on the day of your wedding. Not to say it’s an issue, but if you have specific requests for the day, at least it will give you the opportunity to pass this onto the right person.
It’s also good to communicate with your venue coordinator to gage their level of service. You don’t want to work with someone who is going to be difficult and rude the whole step of the way. They need to be responsive, knowledgeable, clear and efficient with any questions you might have.
Not confident in Your Venue Coordinator? Consider a Wedding Planner…
Not confident in your venue coordinator? Consider a wedding planner to help you every step of the way. I take great pride in listening to your needs and sharing my knowledge and advice in a clear and understandable manager. I can also bridge the gap between your vendors, so you only have one person to liaise with. Get in touch today.