Choosing your wedding venue is one of the first, and most important decisions you need to make during your wedding planning! With more and more wedding reception venues popping up, it can be difficult to know where to start. Local wedding planner and venue finding expert Claire Clarke from Claire Clarke weddings is going to be helping guide you through the process with her top tips. Have you already found your perfect venue? Let us know in the comments below!
When it comes to choosing a wedding reception venue there are of course a lot of factors which need to be taken into consideration making the venue finding process very overwhelming and most couples I speak to, simply don’t know where to start. So here are my top 7 tips to get you started with your venue search.
1. Sit with your partner and make a list
The best place to start is for you and your fiancé to sit down and work out what type of reception venue you are drawn to. Are you interested in historical properties such as a manor house, castle, period hotel or stately home? Or, maybe you’d prefer a barn style venue or even a marquee. When a couples books my services to help with this element of their planning, the first thing I do is write a list with my couple stating all the important factors such as ‘wooden beams, high ceilings, natural light, outside space’. By starting at this point you can easily eliminate the types of venues which don’t appeal to you both and in turn, this will instantly make the venue finding process easier and a lot less time consuming.
2. Plan your guest list.
Now you need to plan your guest list. Knowing how many guests are attending your wedding reception will help whittle down the venues that are too small or even too large for your needs. Having this number in mind also helps the venues quote your day, along with being able to receive pictures of past weddings held there with similar numbers, giving you a better idea of how it will work.
3. Look at a map
I recommend you print out a map of the area you’ve narrowed your search to then start typing your requirements and towns from that area into a search engine one by one, for example ‘barn wedding civil ceremony Northampton’. By doing this, you’ll be able to see what venues are at within the vicinity of your chosen area including the proximity to road or rail links and hotels for your guests.
If you plan to hold your wedding ceremony at a different location from your wedding reception try to look at venues within a maximum of thirty minutes (drive) from your chosen ceremony location. While people will accept that a certain amount of travel is unavoidable, problems with cars, traffic jams and navigation can take the edge off your guests’ enjoyment.
4. Get in touch with your top 10 venues
Once you’ve narrowed your search down to a list of approximately ten, get in touch with the venues via the contact details on their website. My advice here is to email rather than using the contact page (and add their venue title in the subject line of your email) so you can keep track of all correspondence. When making your first enquiry always give the venue as many details as possible. Here is a guideline of what to include;
- You and your fiancé’s full name
- The number of guests you’re interested in having attend your ceremony and/ or reception
- A date if you have one (if you don’t have one, a rough month and years always helps you receive an accurate quote)
- If you have any specific requirements such as halal/ no alcohol/ Kosher catering
- If you’re looking to have a ceremony on site, ensure you ask the maximum legal civil ceremony numbers that can be accommodated on site
Giving these details will mean the wedding planner at the venue you’re enquiring with can give you a quote as accurate as possible to your requirements and budget.
5. Ask lots of questions
It's important to ask lots of questions about the venue, to ensure it suits your needs. I have written a full list of questions you need to ask in a previous blog post '24 questions you NEED to ask your wedding venue'. Make sure you read the full list, and keep track of the answers you have received from your venues.
You can ask these questions during a show round of the venue, but I’d always advise that you’re mindful to these questions when making your decision. It’s always a good idea to get answers to these questions in writing too along the way, in case staff members at the venue change before your wedding day.
If you’ve got a firm date in mind, do ask the venue to hold this date and always find out if you’re holding on a ‘first option’ or not. Ensure you ask how long this date can be held too which will give you time to look at other venues while you make your decision.
6. Go with your heart
Ultimately, as much as this advice can guide you through the process of finding a venue, choosing the right venue should be a gut reaction. If you therefore fall in love with the venue, ask the questions I’ve outlined to get a full understanding of what’s in store before you book however, there is nothing more important than being excited about your chosen venue so if you get that all important gut reaction… go with it!
7. Check the terms and conditions
Once you’ve found ‘The One’ make sure you look closely at the terms and conditions and don’t just skim over these. All good venues should advise you book wedding insurance as their terms and conditions won’t cover everything. Finally, find out the deposit schedule and how payment needs to be made.
Once you’ve signed on the dotted line, always ensure you receive a countersigned copy of the contract. Make sure you release any other venues you’ve been holding and my final piece of advice- have a glass of something cold and bubbly to celebrate!
If you are struggling to find a venue perfect for the “I do’s!” I’d be more than happy to help. Please take a look at my services page for more information about the services I offer along with my venue sourcing service.
Do you need more inspiration to help you find your perfect wedding venue? Check out our venue pages below.