Advice for booking a wedding venue…
So the big day has been set, the budget is planned and now all you need to do is find that fairy-tale venue to bring the dream alive! A place to say I do in style and remember your first dance forever. Choosing a venue to celebrate your nuptials is a vital ingredient for any couple. This is your moment, so embrace it, cherish it and make sure you choose a venue with some va-va-voom!
Whether you are looking for city chic or a rural retreat, there really is something for everyone. I always advise every couple I meet, to choose a space with character, that really represents your unique relationship and personalities. Now for some, this can be quite extreme. Getting hitched down a coal mine or on the wings of an aeroplane is certainly not everyone’s cup of tea, but it certainly is unique! For most of us though, the day itself is about cementing a union between two people and the venue of choice should represent that union. Wow, I am getting quite teary already!
Ok, so, let’s get down to business. Where do we start? Well, generally the geographical location is the best place to kick-off and once this has been decided upon, you can work with the venues located in that area. Even if you have an ideal place in mind, I always advise couples to view at least 5 other spaces to spark ideas and inspire you both. The amount of people that have a preferred venue and then choose another is incredible, so make sure you don’t limit the possibilities. Be adventurous and check out everything from the local village hall to a river boat!
For the first viewing, make sure you go as a couple to ‘feel the space’ and probe the wedding coordinator for all the info you require including: menu options, wedding packages available, plus on and off-site accommodation for your guests to choose from. It’s important to try and cater for all budgets when it comes to guest accommodation and having ample parking facilities for that matter. On top of that lot, find out if the honeymoon suite is thrown into the mix for good measure, or an additional cost for you to consider? Get a break-down of everything included in the package, so you can consider costs for any extras. A venue that can be flexible in it’s approach and happy to barter a bit of a deal is always desired! Don’t be afraid to ask.
Some wedding venues will push you to use services from their preferred supplier list, so if you have others in mind, check that this is allowed and not going to cause you any problems later down the line. Will the venue/hotel be exclusively yours for the day/eve (most couples prefer this)? And if you desire, does the venue offer an extended license or is willing to apply for one? Ensure you explore all table-layout options/spaces available and check everything is covered to cope with unexpected weather conditions. Most importantly, read the small print of the contract. I always recommend wedding day insurance anyhow, but it is important to check what the deal is, in terms of a cancellation by either party. A payment schedule leading up to the big day is also essential. No venue would expect all the cash upfront.
Try to get a real feel as to how the day itself will unfold. Make a list of questions to ask beforehand and as I say, do not be afraid to probe. It is the coordinators job to make your day a reality. If you are concerned about the costs involved or being able to stretch your budget efficiently, tell them and see what other options they can offer. Summer bbq’s or sharing foods, such as home-made pizzas with all the Italian themed trimmings, are all the rage at the moment and can often be much lighter on the budget over a traditional evening buffet. And remember, it is very difficult to negotiate a better rate on a Saturday because this is the most popular day of the week to get married and gets booked up quickly – often up to 12 months in advance, so bear this in mind when starting your search and setting dates. If a mid-week wedding is at all possible you will definitely get a lot more for your money. A great coordinator generally has a solution, but of course you must be realistic!
Selecting a wedding venue is a bit like buying a house for the day. Trust your gut feeling. Sometimes it just feels right. And if you are not sure, book a menu tasting session in the restaurant to firm up your decision. Some venues offer this as a complementary service once booked, but don’t take it as red – some don’t and very few offer for free so you can try out. On that note, don’t forget to check corkage costs if you are wanting to source your own wine, as it can sometimes work out to be just as expensive if not more, than choosing from their own wine menu. Canapes can also be a pricey addition. I always suggest ditching these for something a little lighter on the budget if looking to cut costs. Serving popcorn for example, is a great alternative and much fun if themed into the overall wedding styling (think classic American-retro popcorn making machine with all the accompanying regalia for example). I feel a fairground concept coming on… one of my personal favourites!
If you want input from others or need some re-assurance, then feel free to take key family members or friends on a second venue visit. Once the final decision has been made, make sure you put some thought into the actual day itself. Don’t just let the wedding coordinator put together a generic day for you. Ensure you add all those memorable little touches and have some fun, to make your big day stand out from the crowd. Maybe you want to create your very own his n hers cocktail to serve instead of champagne or prosecco before the wedding breakfast? Again this is much fun and often a lot lighter on the budget front if a minimal amount of alcohol content is used. Remember, it’s only the first drink and your guests have the whole day ahead of them, so a fruity refreshing punch often goes down really well. A welcome drink to greet your guests with post ceremony, is a real must in my book and really helps set’s the tone for your day ahead. Perhaps you could also invent a pudding in honour of your new surname, or choreograph an entertaining first dance opening for the evening do?! The World is your oyster, but whatever you do, remember my three p’s personalise, personalise and personalise some more… it’s the fun times that people remember over the colour scheme and pew-ends! Oh and of course, enjoy every second – let’s party people!
Photography by Great Fosters – as featured on The Wedding Fairy Website.