Choice of venue is so important to how smoothly the wedding day goes that it should be one of your first considerations when you’re making plans. Here are a few of the main things to think about:
Decide on Your Budget
Setting your budget before you scout around for your dream venue helps prevent wasting time on places beyond your reach, or those you could improve on.
If the cost of your ideal venue is higher than you’ve budgeted, consider cutting back on something else. Maybe a simpler menu? Alternatively, maybe you could reduce your guest list? You’ll find you need to make compromises throughout the planning process, and it isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Your creativity will take over and you may discover something you like even better.
Consider Guests’ Needs
Guests who don’t live locally may be staying in a hotel. Consider how they’ll get to the venue if you’ve chosen a country location. Making guests travel doesn’t have to be a deal breaker with a venue you love, but the transport and timings need consideration.
Another way your guest list may impact your choice of venue is if you have elderly or special needs guests. Check your chosen location provides facilities such as wheelchair access and changing facilities for guests with babies.
It’s nice touch to provide a map and directions for guests unfamiliar with the area to help them arrive on time. You could also investigate mobile event apps to keep everyone informed and in touch. Some let you include floor plans, which can be a great help if it’s a large venue.
Choosing the Date
Setting the date is a big thing. Do you pick your preferred date first, then search for a venue, or pick your venue first then choose the date depending on its availability? If you’re planning a wedding a year or so away you can pick practically any date you like, but always allow plenty of time. The most popular venues get booked up fast, sometimes years in advance.
If your heart is set on one particular place, the date may be one of the areas open to compromise. Only you can decide whether the calendar day or the venue is most important.
Matching Venue to Theme and Activities
Are you planning a traditional, romantic white wedding, or something more edgy and unique? Where you hold the ceremony and celebrations should provide a complementary backdrop, helping get guests in the mood and set the right tone.
Consider what will happen during the day. Do you need a stage for live entertainment later, or for speeches and announcements? It depends how formal your arrangements are. Many venues that specialise in weddings will provide everything you need, but always check.
When you’re familiar with a venue or building, it’s easy to forget how disoriented first-time visitors can feel. In larger venues, you may need to organise some signage so guests can find the facilities or not get lost between the ceremony and the wedding breakfast.
Check on Included Services
Does the venue offer wedding catering or specialised decor and accessories? Do they have a PA system? Take special care if you want an outdoor wedding or to hire a marquee. If you want a particular style of seating, it may be up to you to provide it. How will you run power outside? Do you have to take responsibility for health and safety? Make sure you discuss everything, leaving nothing to chance. If you need to hire anything, you’ll also have to book this in advance and make sure available dates for equipment and venue match up.
Venue decisions will run alongside those such as transport and photography, and whether you’ll have the reception at the same place as the ceremony. If you’re getting married in church and travelling to the reception, you may also have two different guest lists.
Logistically, it takes some organising. Give yourself plenty of time, make lots of written lists, and rope in a team of helpers who’ll make the planning as fun and exciting as the day itself.