Choosing a wedding venue is a huge decision, and can seem overwhelming at first. There are so many decisions to make, all tied up in your choice of venue; decoration, guest list, food, and then there’s finding a suitable date, travel and accommodation… But whether you’re getting married in a church, a hotel, on the beach or under a marquee, follow these guidelines to keep wedding organisation panic at bay!
First of all, you need to consider whether you want to have your ceremony and reception in the same place. (Your ceremony is the actual getting married part, whereas your reception is the after-party!) This may not even be an option if you’re getting married in a church or registry office, so in this case you will need to budget for two separate venues, as well as the cost of travelling between them. You may also find your ‘perfect’ venue doesn’t have a license for weddings, but this can be worked around by getting married elsewhere before moving on to your ideal venue for the big reception.
Use recommendations and the opinions of friends to help you find your venue. Think about what you want from a venue: lots of space, character, all-inclusive service, something unique? Visit your shortlist of venues and get a real feel for each place. Don’t forget to ask lots of questions while you’re there, such as parking, accommodation, when you have to shut down the party, what’s included in the price, whether staff are on hand to help set up/tidy away/serve food, what menus are available or whether you can bring your own food, and how many people you can accommodate.
Your guest list is the next item on your checklist. Once you have your venue in mind and have booked the date, you can start sending out “save the date” cards or invitations. Sometimes a small venue is a very good excuse to keep your wedding party intimate and avoid having to invite tenuously linked family members and friends you’d rather not have there! Try to be diplomatic in choosing your guest list and don’t let it stress you out – it’s your day after all. If you have a really restricted guest list, then you might want to consider having a separate event before or after the wedding where uninvited guests can come to celebrate with you.
Next you’ll need to consider food and drink, dancing and music, decorations and the style of your wedding, photos and accommodation. You may have several rooms available for the meal and/or dancing. Or it may be a case of switching things around once the meal and speeches are over. Your contact at the venue should be able to help you work these things out and help it all run smoothly for you.
The style of your wedding can be a big factor in choosing your wedding venue. A good guide is the style of your wedding dress – a modern style might lead you to a quirky or chic venue, whereas a traditional ballgown wedding dress would look more at home in a more decorative and grand venue. Vintage weddings can look spectacular when placed in an old venue that is full of character. Let your decorations and colour scheme (even your cake!) reflect the style of your wedding dress, your venue and your personality.
Most couples go with their gut feeling when choosing a wedding venue, finding that they instinctively know a particular place is “the one” as soon as they walk in.