If you’ve ever been invited to a wedding before (chances are you have), you’ll know the first thing you ask is where it’s going to be. If it’s finally your turn to be the bride, be prepared to be faced with an onslaught of these questions as your guests try to work out if they’re going to need to book a cab – yes, even 6 months in advance! It might seem superfluous, but much of the time, your guests will also be simply curious about the venue. After all, you could argue that the location of the wedding can say a lot about the couple at hand. But as the bride, and the one who is paying for it, the venue is of even bigger importance to you.
Typically, they are the most pricey part of the wedding day. In fact, studies suggest that the average American couple can spend nearly $15,000 on their venue alone! With this jaw-dropping figure in mind, it is clearly important that you get the venue right. No one likes putting $15,000 down the drain for nothing. But what should you look for when booking your dream venue? It can be super tempting to look at your first fairy tale castle and think ‘that’s the one’, and book it straight away. But this kind of snap decision making can often get you in a lot of trouble, as various issues and extra costs come to light. Before putting any deposit down, make sure you are clued up on exactly what you’ll need for your big day. That way, you will end up with a venue that’s beyond your wildest dreams!
Pick your visiting time wisely
You might visit a stunning stately home at dusk, after a busy day of viewing various wedding venues. The light is low, there are fairy lights adorning the grounds and the architecture is traditionally magical. You are blown away by its charm and put a deposit down there and then. But when you return a few days later in the morning to work out where you are going to seat your guests, you get a very different impression of the place. The grounds are overgrown and don’t look quite as quaint without the twinkling lights, and the house is just well….old. All the charm has disappeared in (quite literally) the cold light of day, and you are filled with regret that you booked it on a whim.
Of course, if you are getting married in the dead of night, it could still be a great option! But, as studies show, most couples get married during the day at the weekend – mainly on Saturdays. If you are sticking to the status quo and are doing the same, it is highly advised to visit your venue at the day and time you will be getting married yourself. This way, you will get a true impression of how everything will look on your big day. For example, you could have found your dream ceremony room. But once viewing it you find that midday sun streams through the large windows, making it impossible to see anything. Here you have a few options. You can ask all your guests to wear sunglasses (!), change the venue or change the wedding time. It might seem minor, but something like this can make or break your venue, and your day as a whole.
Find out what exactly is included in the price
If you have booked your dream venue and the price seems too good to be true, chances are it is. Many novice couples forget to find out what exactly is included in the cost of their wedding venue. Often, it will be an all-inclusive package. In these instances, it will include food and drink, furniture, linens, flowers – the lot. But sometimes, you may book a venue that literally only offers the space, and you are required to provide everything else. On rare occasions, you may book a venue that only provides the room, but they give you a list of specific vendors they want you to work with. So, this may mean that you only have a few specific options for catering, decor, and furniture. If you were hoping to personalize your wedding, this isn’t the ideal situation, so make sure you check everything with the venue first.
Of course, you may find it easier to have an all-inclusive wedding, but be aware that not everything may be to your taste. There’s nothing worse than booking a stunning room, only to turn up the day before to find table linens straight out of 1970 and some feeble bouquets. Having a ‘blank canvas’ of sorts is the best way to create a wedding that is truly unique to you, so booking simply space could be the way to go. However, be prepared to tick things off a very long checklist! Your guests will need somewhere to sit, so consider getting some chiavari chairs. They are great for matching to your color scheme as they come in a variety of shades. If you want a really personal touch to your day, why not make your own quirky table place settings? Print out old pictures and get your guests to find their photo so they know where to sit. It’s a lot of fun and nostalgia among your guests adds a great touch to your day.
Work out the logistics
As previously mentioned, your guests are always keen to know where the wedding is as they want to know how they are going to get there. If you’ve found your dream venue but it’s miles out of town, be sure to consider the logistics of your wedding. Are you planning to provide transport for your guests there and back, or do you expect them to drive themselves? If it is a long way away, asking them to provide their own transport is a big ask, and you may end up with quite a few drop outs. Make sure you let them know the location early enough if you find yourself in this situation. That way, at least they can book overnight accommodation.
The two other main things to consider is the weather and space. Outdoor weddings are super popular and they can look stunning in pictures. Plus, on a hot summer’s day, there is just something extra special about a wedding outside in nature. But, as much as we’d like to be able to, the weather is impossible to control. Even if your location has been in a 6 month drought, it is advisable to have an indoor back-up just in case the heavens open. Speak to your venue about whether this would be an option for you, and if so, ask to check out the room available. If your whole wedding is indoor from the start, space will be the biggest factor you need to consider.
Obviously, it is hard to know how many guests you’re going to have from the get-go, and you’re always likely to have a couple of late RSVPs. With that in mind, it’s always better to book a bigger space than you need, rather than having guests spilling out the door. Having a rough idea of numbers when it comes to your guests also enables you to narrow down your venue search from day one. Most venues have capacity size listed on their websites or in their brochures, so you’ll easily be able to see where is worth visiting and where isn’t.