DECIDE YOUR BUDGET
This is obviously key and will help you rule out some properties in favour of others. When you look at the venues, check if they have a wedding package, what the price is, and if certain elements are optional. If you are keeping costs down you may want to buy some of the food, alcohol or even entertainment yourself – if this is the case it is imperative that you check what the venue’s regulations are.
HOW MANY GUESTS
This is another really important consideration. You may have a venue you always dreamed of, but if it means you can’t fit the groom’s enormous extended family or your gaggle of supportive hens then you might have to think again and make some concessions. Numbers are also key if you are thinking of inviting a smaller group to the wedding and the rest of the party to the reception. Think about optimising space and saving money by not paying for rooms you do not need.
DO YOU WANT A RELIGIOUS OR CIVIL CEREMONY
Traditionally couples opt to have the ceremony in the childhood church of the bride, but nowadays more and more couples are opting to have their wedding in a more civic space. Most venues like hotels and manors have licenses to hold civil ceremonies, but this is something to check with them straight away otherwise you may only be able to have the reception there. If you do have the wedding in a church, talk to the vicar early about securing dates – this has to be the first port of call. Also, consider the setting when you are buying things like the bridal gown and bridesmaid dresses – baring shoulders in a church is often seen as disrespectful.
HOW MUCH ARE YOU PREPARED TO DO YOURSELF
It’s great if you or a close relative has a big outdoor space like a barn to hold the party, but you may need to call in the help of lots of friends and family to help transform the space. Whilst it can save on budget to do it yourself, don’t be afraid to get the professionals in if you want to erect a big marquee in the garden or dress the insides of an outbuilding. These home celebrations do require more handiwork, but the nostalgic connection to the space is important.
If you think you’d rather place your special day in professional hands, hotels and other venues usually have very experienced staff who are on hand at all times to help your day go smoothly and could really take the stress off.
HAVE CONTINGENCY PLANS
A garden reception is all very well, but we have to face the truth of living in England! If you are hosting the reception yourself, make sure the marquee is large enough to accommodate all the guests if the heavens open. If your party is in a hotel, check that they have a room away from the dinner hall that guests can retreat to if showers start.
MAKE A SHORTLIST
Ideally you should have a shortlist of three or four venues to choose from. Once you have visited and found a favourite, be sure to go back and visit it at a different time of day to see what the lighting is like, this is really key to know the best places to put up decorations and to let the photographer know so the pictures are perfect.
Whilst it is an important decision, try to take it on with a methodical approach and do not get too stressed – at the end of the day the joining of two people in love is the main event and that should be kept firmly in mind!