For the majority of couples, the first big decision they make about their wedding is their venue. Your venue sets the scene for your day, it can influence your wedding style and dictate how much of your budget is left for everything else! So, choosing your perfect venue is a hugely important step on your wedding planning journey. If you’re starting your search, then these are my top tips for finding your dream wedding venue.
Start with the basics
There are literally thousands of venues out there and they come in all styles and sizes and in every location. So, before you even begin researching and creating your shortlist, you need to start with the basics.
What style of wedding do you want? Roughly how many guests do you want to invite? How much can you afford and where do you want to get married? Is onsite or nearby accommodation essential? Does your venue need to have a licence for ceremonies or a church nearby?
You don’t need precise information here, just rough parameters that will help you narrow down your options when you start researching.
Now’s the time to get out there and see just what’s available. Armed with basics, use a wedding venue website such as Coco Wedding Venues to search by location, style, capacity etc. Via Coco you can also contact venues directly and create your own shortlist, so it really is a fabulous wedding planning tool. Alternatively, an internet search using keywords that include the style of venue and location will help you find even more locations to check out.
Some couples create a spreadsheet so that they can easily compare all the venues they find, others use Pinterest or an app and some just go with an old-fashioned notebook. Whatever option works for you is just fine but don’t ignore the importance of keeping notes and records when you’re planning your wedding.
Visit your shortlisted venues
Make appointments to see your shortlisted venues and do a little prep work before you go. Write down a list of things you want to know or questions you need to ask. Do you want to check their availability for certain dates? Do you need to know about catering options, accommodation or payment schedules? You’ll find plenty of tips online for making the most of your venue visits.
Know what you’re looking for
What’s important to you in your wedding venue? Do you want open fires, quirky details, impressive interiors or luxury accommodation? Are you really keen to have a live band, fireworks, fine food or gorgeous outdoor spaces? Think about what you really want and then see what each venue can offer. Are you prepared to compromise or is everything on your list a must-have? Only you can answer this!
Make sure you see everything
Most venues are really great at showing you all the important areas when you visit but if there’s something you specifically want to see, don’t leave until you’ve seen it. It might be that you want to check out the baby changing facilities, the disabled toilets, the guest accommodation or the chairs for the wedding breakfast! This is your time to gather as much information as possible to make the most of your visit.
Don’t be afraid to go back!
There’s no need to feel under pressure to book when you visit venues. It’s a huge decision and it’s not one to be made lightly. Don’t ever be afraid to make a second or even third appointment. You need to be absolutely sure that you love your venue before you book.
Check the paperwork
Once you’ve decided to go ahead and book your dream venue, always check the paperwork. Make sure that all the details contained in the booking reflect any conversations that you’ve had with the venue staff – if they’ve told you that something’s allowed or available without an extra charge, you should see this somewhere in your terms and conditions or at least in a covering note. Be sure you’re aware of all the payment dates, check the venue’s policy on damage deposits, arrival/departure times, minimum numbers and ask for clarification on anything you’re not sure on. Finally, sign on the dotted line, return everything to the venue and give yourself a big pat on the back – you’ve booked your wedding venue and the planning can now start in earnest!