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Top things to consider when choosing your wedding venue

When picking a wedding venue, it can be a very daunting experience. Your venue will set the entire tone for the wedding and it's a huge commitment in terms of costs. The best thing to do is research, research, research!

Here are a few helpful things to bear in mind when making one of the biggest decisions when planning a wedding.

Is there any type of restrictions in terms of time that your wedding venue has? What time can your evening reception run until? Will the music need to be turned down at a certain time? If you are planning a big party with family and friends, you might not want to go for a place that shuts you down at 10.30pm.

When you are close to picking your venue, and booking a date, it's important to speak to your local registrars first. Check availability and cost with the registrar before you sign anything with a venue and it is recommended to book the registry office before you book your venue.

Find out exactly what is included in any package you purchase – you won’t want there to be any surprises hiding in the small print. Be sure to ask about any extra costs! There may be extra costs on hiring a separate caterer or extra costs for music systems and so on.

Maximum capacities and access. There is not much point in falling in love with a small, cosy venue if you want a huge wedding for 300 people. Look for places that represent you as a couple, but can also accommodate a large party. Also, keep in mind your guests. Any elderly relatives with limited mobility will need easy access to the venue via ramps or lifts.

If you are looking for an outdoor wedding venue in the summer, remember to ask about any shelter. If there is a chance of rain, a marquee or gazebos will be needed, and even if the weather is set to be hot and dry, your guests will welcome a place to stand in the shade. Why not get some charming lace wedding umbrellas too, so rain or shine, you and your guests have some portable shelter too?

Don’t go ahead and book anything without seeing the venue first. Pictures can look a lot different to the real deal and a good wedding coordinator will not pressure you to put down a deposit without a face-to-face meeting first.

Do you like the staff? You will be working closely with your wedding coordinator at the venue for several months and the overall feel of the place will play a huge part in your enjoyment on the day. If you are torn between two venues, why not book a meal at both and compare your experiences? Trust your gut instinct with this one!

Go and see as many different venues as possible. Chances are that you will find they all offer similar things in terms of packages and prices, but seeing all your options will give you a clearer idea of what you want - and what you don't want.

If you are flexible on your date, look into midweek and off-season discounts as this can cut down the cost of your wedding considerably. Bear in mind that popular dates such as Valentine's Day and New Year's Eve will be a lot more expensive.

Ask about fun extras that will personalise your day, for example having signature his ‘n’ her cocktails at the bar. Chances are that the venue will be excited to try something new.

Accommodation is an important one to think about too. If your venue is a hotel, are they able to offer a group discount for some of your wedding guests? Is the bridal suite included in the package? Make sure you ask to see it as well. If your venue is not a hotel, look into nearby accommodation and check out the prices.

Finally, make sure you factor transport into your budget if your wedding is taking place in more than one location, or in a remote out-of-the-way place. Do you need to hire a bus or arrange several taxis, in order to get all your guests from the ceremony to the reception or will they be making their own way there? In either case, inform guests on their invitation or when they arrive on the day

Image by David Higgs

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