If you're newly engaged then finding the perfect wedding venue to celebrate your impending nuptials is most likely topping your priority list. Sure, getting that ring on your finger is the first step to making it all feel real, but nothing says this is happening like signing the deal on your dream venue! The question is, where to start?
Picking your venue can be one of the most overwhelming aspects of planning your big day. There are so many variables to consider and questions to ask when narrowing down your location choice. Ultimately, your venue will influence everything from vendor selection to budget and décor and even attire. To help, we've rounded up our top tips for a stress-free path to choosing the perfect wedding venue and don't forget to visit our supplier page to give you inspiration.
1/ Wedding Date
While knowing your wedding date might not seem necessary to choosing your wedding venue, it does play a significant role. If you are flexible and don't mind getting married off-season or mid-week, or even mid-week and off-season, then you’ll often be able to secure the venue of your dreams at a lower rate. Time of year, the day of the week, and your engagement length will all impact your negotiating leverage with vendors. If you are sure of your date, and hence the lead in time you are working with, you will be able to use this information as leverage when negotiating with your chosen venue. Need help setting the date? Fear not as you can find our advice for picking the perfect date here:
Setting a budget is one thing, sticking to it is another. Your budget should be a rock-solid figure that you are willing to spend, and ideally, you should not go over this amount. The set spend, along with your guest list, will profoundly affect your wedding choices. If you blow all your budget on a venue, then other aspects of the day will be an uphill battle. Break down your budget by category and decide how much you are willing to spend on each item. Make sure to include everything, as there are often many costs that couples overlook. Once you have firmed this up, then you can look at the expense of your venue and, if you want, juggle things around to make the figures work. Putting in the work now will mean less stress on a future date.
3/ Guest List
Finalising your guest list can seem to be nigh on impossible. There is always a cousin that has been forgotten or an old friend you think you should invite; someone extra, and their plus one, you feel they should or expect to be celebrating with you on your big day.
Stressful as this is, and it can often be a sore point between couples (it is never nice to tell your other half that their dear cousin Anne can't come), this is one of the most important aspects of your big day and should be one of the first you finalise. If you choose a venue that is too small for your guest list and more guests RSVP 'yes' than you can fit in the space, you might be in a tough situation. Let's not forget that the more people you invite, the greater the cost will be and so venue choice will be impacted by the numbers you invite and the budget you have. To avoid headaches and heartbreaks make sure to have that conversation early and know what number you're working with.
4/ Talk to a Planner
Ok, the big question is, do you want to do all of the planning yourself? If not, then you should make talking to a planner one of the first things you do after finalising your guest list and setting your budget. Many planners will have a good idea about venues and available spaces. They will easily match your vision to your budget and make some great suggestions.
Naturally, engaging a planner comes at an extra cost, so you will need to decide if it is within the realms of possibility and if it fits in with your budget.
If you are on the fence, we've worked through all the questions you need to ask yourself before taking the leap. Click here for more on this.
5/ Don't lose sight of your vision
When choosing a venue, you should keep in mind the aesthetic you are want to achieve. There is no point going for a city-centre loft if you want old-school glamour. Choose a venue that fits in with (and enhances) your theme, and this will enable your wedding to feel more connected to the space. Indeed, the season will also play a role when choosing your venue; if a garden wedding has always been your dream, but you are getting married off-season, then your venue may not be blooming oasis you have dreamt of. Conversely, if you are dreaming of a suave city-centre celebration, but have chosen a venue in the suburbs, then you may not be happy. Keep true to yourself and know what you want.
6/ Included Extras
Some venues, as part of their price per head, include many extras such as chair covers, linens, table centrepieces to the cake and more. All of these have a value, and although a venue that supplies all of this may appear to be more expensive up front, renting the items or providing the cake yourself can often end up being more expensive. Work both costings out fully as this will give you a better idea of the value for money that your venue is giving and so may influence your final venue choice.
Also, some venues will have an on-site wedding planner to help you organise your big day. An in-situ planner will be best able to advise you on local suppliers and will have an eye for their venue, giving you ideas on ways to use the space that you otherwise might have overlooked. We already know that engaging a wedding planner can relieve a lot of stress, but costs, so to have this help, without the need for additional budget, is a significant bonus.
Lastly, don't forget to consider the hidden extras, such as corkage and tips, amongst others. Ask for the costs of these in advance and include them in your final figure. Don't allow any room for a last-minute financial shock!
Lastly, if all of the above gives you cold feet, you could always elope. Sure, what could be more romantic?
-- Danielle Farrell