Picking a venue is the first step for any newly engaged bride. It sounds charming – spending afternoons with your fiancé, hand in hand strolling around beautiful venues discussing your wedding day together. Um, yes I suppose it’s a little like this…for the first venue anyway! Then your heads will be working in wedding overdrive.
I meet with couples every week for viewing appointments and it’s genuinely one of my favourite parts of my job. Meeting with new couples who are at the very beginning of such a memorable journey! One of my viewing traits, is that I’m overly honest and myself – which I feel is super important.
Make sure you find out who is responsible for your planning and who will be corresponding back and forth with you regards your queries. It’s important to only have one direct contact with your venue – one person to call, one person to email. Usually this will be the person carrying out your viewing, however not aways. It’s important to meet with your wedding planner, as you need to click together, ensure they understand your needs, expectation and wedding goals and just being on the same page as each other really.
Unfortunately I don’t believe that there is a wedding venue out there which will tick every single little box – but that’s OK! Here are a few of my tips –
How many venues do you view?
Don’t view too many venues, otherwise your bridal melt down will begin before the date is even booked – I advise 5 venues is the absolute maximum, and try different styles from barns to hotels, so you know exactly what you want. This will automatically eliminate certain venues, as you will just know it’s not that you imagined. Photographers Instagram accounts are a great way to find venue to view – this gives you an insight into previous real weddings and the potential a venue has.
Create your ‘Essential List’ & ‘Dream List’
The Essential List
Essentials are the important things for you both, the things which have to be there and just have to happen. These are the major elements such as;
Pricing – Your venue choice has to match your budget. Otherwise your planning journey will not be enjoyable, as you will continuously be watching the pounds add up and will genuinely just have the fear, even on your wedding day you will be overthinking the price of the bubbles you are currently sipping on. Ask for an estimated invoice to be sent to you after the viewing.
(TIP – Create a couple email address, yes it may sound cringe but it makes things a lot easier for everyone. You won’t have to forward emails onto your other half, we wont have to make sure we are cc’ing you both in & it’s handy if you want to gather up your RSVP’s online)
Location – this only really applies if the ceremony is offsite, aka a traditional church wedding. Travel time from ceremony to the arrival drinks reception eats up a lot of time – and how Northern Irish people think it’s totally acceptable to stop at McDonald’s on the journey from A to B. My typing is currently getting louder and faster! YES – this annoys me and every other wedding planner out there! If it’s reaching 2 hours, rethink it. If your ceremony is at the venue – who cares how far away it is? The important guests will make the effort to attend, no matter how far.
Accommodation – Is there accommodation on site for your guests? Do they get a special discounted wedding rate? Ask for a list of recommended local accommodation – this means you can offer an alternative to guests if needed.
Every brides essential list will be slightly different, however pricing, location & accommodation should apply to all. What else is important to you? Perhaps venue exclusivity – ensuring your wedding will be the only wedding that day. Photo opportunities are also an important part, you want to make sure your venue will meet all of your photo expectations – (I blame Instagram for this!)
The Dream List
The dream list is all of your ideas which you would really really like to happen on your wedding day. Basically these are all of the ideas you have found on Pinterest/Instagram – which are completely achievable and I encourage them all, however maybe not a deal-breaker for choosing your venue.
Can your venue accommodation that quirky ice cream tricycle you saw?
What about sparklers? Can you set up cute festoon lighting outside for those cute evening sparkler photos you dreamt off? Oh, and what about fireworks?
You thought about having dinner set banquet style, can you get rid of the circle tables and set up this way?
The venue which covers the essentials, yet ticks off the most of your dreams wins!
Viewings can be overwhelming, especially after your third appointment. There is so much important to take in. I literally feel like I just blubber out wedding chat for over an hour and I’m usually loosing my voice towards the end of the day. There is just so much to cover! Make sure to take a notepad, the wedding planner should follow-up with an emailing suing up everything discussed, but it’s always handy to have. To finish up, a bride who doesn’t ask questions, worries me! Asking questions means you will leave the viewing with a full understanding of their offering. If you are struggling for questions, I’ve whipped up a quick list below covering the bare basics.
Questions to ask at your viewing
- Is there a minimum guest number policy?
- How long can you hold a provisional date for? (there should never be a fee for this!)
- What is the initial deposit to confirm?
- When is final payment?
- Can you set up a payment plan?
- Are you contracted to any specific suppliers? (room decor/cake/florist etc)
- Is table linen, crockery, cutlery, napkins, cake stand/knife inclusive?
- Can you provide your own alcohol – corkage fees?
- Are you allowed to bring in your own food – perhaps cupcakes on arrival, cheeseboard for the evening supper?
- Are you allowed to bring in vendors such as an ice cream cart, chocolate fountain etc?
- Are the prices discussed valid for your wedding year? (especially for 2020 onwards – just because you booked this year, doesn’t always mean 2018 prices will be held)
- If you are having a civil ceremony at the venue, ensure you enquire about the procedure you need to follow to get this arranged.
Happy venue hunting!
Love, JA / XO