Choosing the Right Wedding Venue

Theobalds Park wedding venue, near Chesnut by Wedding Photography by Jon Day, on Flickr

Choosing your wedding venue is the most important decision you will make when planning your wedding especially if your ceremony and reception are to be in the same venue. Wedding venues vary considerably in terms of type, size, quality and price. Your budget will determine how much you can spend on your wedding venue – but a number of factors will affect what you will get for your money. Before you start looking at wedding venues, consider the following:

Type of ceremony

If you’re having a civil ceremony, you’ll need to find a wedding venue that is licensed for civil weddings. There are more than 4,000 approved wedding venues to choose from in the UK and unless you marry in a registry office, you can have both the ceremony and reception in the same wedding venue. If you have a church wedding, you’ll need to find a wedding venue nearby for your reception but you’ll have a wider choice of wedding venues because they won’t need a civil licence.

Location

Traditionally the bride got married near to her family home. Whilst this is still an option, couples are increasingly looking further afield for that perfect or unusual wedding venue.. If you have friends and family all over the place, location may not be a restricting factor. Think about your guests when considering the location of a wedding venue. Will your guests have far to travel? Will they be able to drive home at the end of the night or will they have to stay in a hotel? In which case, is there sufficient accommodation to suit every budget?

When to get married

It will take a lot longer to find a wedding venue if you have a specific date in mind. You’ll have more wedding venues to choose from and might be able to save money if you can be flexible as to when you get married, such as:

Time of year – May to September (summer) and December (Christmas) are the peak months for getting married. Wedding venues are considerably cheaper during the other months of the year.

Time frame – if you think you can arrange your wedding quickly, lots of venues offer late availability packages. These deals will usually be for dates available in the next few months. At the other end of the spectrum you might get a good deal for booking 2-3 years in advance.

Day of the week – Saturday is the most popular and most expensive day followed closely by Friday and Sunday. Wedding venue hire is often cheaper mid week. The only issue is whether guests will be able to take the time off work to attend.

Number of guests

You might not have drawn up your final guest list, but you’ll need a rough idea of guest numbers so you can search for wedding venues with the appropriate capacity. Try and split your guests into two lists – definite and nice to invite. That way, if you fall in love with a smaller wedding venue, you’ll be able to quickly establish whether it is big enough for your list of definite guests. Some wedding venues have a minimum number of guests so may charge an additional supplement if your guest list is below the minimum.

Style or theme

Castles, stately homes and large hotels are perfect for a grand and formal affair. The type of wedding venue you choose will depend on the style of wedding you envisage for your big day. Large or luxury wedding venues include castles, stately homes and large hotels. Informal or small wedding venues include barns, small country houses, restaurants and smaller hotels. Unique or unusual wedding venues include museums, zoos or other tourist attractions.

Exclusivity

Some wedding venues such as hotels, stately homes and country houses are large enough to accommodate more than one wedding in a day. You may have to pay extra to guarantee exclusive use if you don’t want to ‘bump into another bride’ or have other hotel guests wondering around on your wedding. Alternatively, find a wedding venue that only has space for one wedding a day.

Food & drink

When comparing the cost of wedding venue hire you should consider the cost of food and drink. Some wedding venues appear to be considerably cheaper for the room hire. On closer inspection, you may find that they insist on the use of in-house caterers and purchase of their wine and champagne. Depending on the number of guests, this could work out more expensive. Try to do some rough calculations so you can compare the cost of wedding venues like-for-like.

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