Essential questions to kick start your venue search

Your venue is the backdrop to every step of your celebration, but whatever your style the starting point to finding perfection is here...

Leeds Castle, Kent
Leeds Castle, Kent

A wedding is like painting a picture, with you as the artist, waving a brush to bring it all to life

But every picture needs a canvas and that canvas is your venue. Without it, you can’t choose your theme, colour palette, flowers or even finalise your numbers. These six basic questions will help kick-start your search for the perfect wedding venue…

1. Home or away?

A wedding abroad can save you serious money. According to Kuoni, a destination wedding costs around a quarter of the average spend on a UK celebration. This is largely down to the guest list – the average party size is just 15! But if you can’t face saying ‘I do’ without a crowd, a UK celebration is probably better for you.

2. One venue or two?

With a religious ceremony, you’ll need a second venue for the reception. The same goes for civil weddings at a register office. However, the majority of couples choose a civil ceremony at a venue registered for marriages that doubles as a party location. 

3. Where?

This is usually shaped by where you live or where one of you grew up. If you have a particular place in mind, remember to Google surrounding counties, too, your dream venue might be just a few miles away. 

4. What season/month/day?

Pick a season – they all have their charms, and there’s no weather guarantee in the UK – but also think about your day. Thursday is the new Saturday in wedding world, and will often bag you a date in high season when weekends have been long booked up. And a weekday wedding could save you money too with suppliers less likely to be busy.

5. How many guests?

You probably have a rough idea of numbers so avoid venues that are too small. Or too big. It’s easy to fall in love with a huge venue that needs 200 people to stop the rooms from echoing, but if you’re only thinking 100 guests don’t fall into the trap of adding on random people just to make up the numbers. 

6. What’s our style?

This is tricky because you might be totally sold on the idea of a marquee on a farm until… you come across a stately home with a funfair… or a city hotel with a stunning roof deck, and then you start to waver.

Euridge House and Orangery, Wiltshire
Euridge House & Orangery, Wiltshire

5 top viewing tips

Visit enough possibles to help you decide what you don’t want as much as what you do want – the right place is out there! 

1. Look at each venue with 360-degree vision. The sweeping driveway might take your breath away, but you and your guests will only get the wow effect once – when you arrive. Make sure the rest lives up to its early splendour.

2. Take notes and plenty of pictures on your phone as you walk around. The event co-ordinator will be rattling off lots of information as you view the venue and it’s easy to forget, especially if you’re seeing a number of places. 

3. Don’t be rushed. Your venue will eat up a large part of your budget so take your time to see everything – the grounds, the bedrooms, car parks, even the loos – not just the dining room and the space for dancing. 

4. If you can, go back a second time in the evening, especially for autumn or winter dates, to see what it looks and feels like in the dark. Check out where the lamps/floodlights are for the entrance and car parks, etc.

5. Get a feel for the people who will make your day happen. Planning can take 12-18 months, so you and your wedding team need to have a good working relationship and be striving towards the same agreed goals. 

Luton Hoo Hotel Golf & Spa, Bedfordshire
Luton Hoo Hotel Golf & Spa, Bedfordshire

What to ask potential venues

You’re bound to have hundreds of questions – try these for starters…

1. What disabled facilities do you have?

2. Are there any restrictions – late-night music, fireworks, tealights, moving furniture?

3. Do we have to use your recommended suppliers, or can we bring in our own?

4. Would we be the only wedding on the day and can we have exclusive use?

5. Is accommodation available? And do we have to book all (or a set number) of the rooms as part of the deal?

6. When could we have access to decorate the rooms? 

7. Can we bring our own alcohol and is there a corkage fee?

8. What are the payment terms (deposit, balance) and cancellation policy, if need be? 

Another Place, Cumbria
Another Place, Cumbria

What about a marquee?

Some venues have permanent or semi-permanent pavilion-style marquees in their grounds to cater for numbers larger than they can fit in their function rooms. In these cases, the logistics are mostly sorted for you. If, however, you fancy hiring an Indian Raj tent, a tipi, or maybe a traditional Mongolian yurt to use at home or in a field, the planning can be a bit more involved. Your marquee company should be able to answer these questions…

How long does it take to put up/take down?

Do we need an overspill tent for cooking/serving?

What will it do to the lawn? (This is your parents’ question if it’s their house!)

Will we need any additional lighting, heating, flooring?

Do you have insurance if anything goes wrong?

Do we need artificial pathways and lighting between the main building and marquee?

Do we need permission from the local authority?

How will we get a power supply?

Do we need/can we have portable loos?

 

Recommended suppliers…

Crescent Moon

Papakata