Different couples will have different ideas for where they want to get married. They will also have varying budgets which will impact on the eventual location. Wedding venues are perhaps the key component of making your wedding day special and memorable so you need to put a lot of thought into this decision.  To ensure your perfect wedding venue is available you need to book early. Most of the best wedding venues are booked at least one year in advance or more if you want particular times of year, such as Valentine’s day. If you are more flexible on dates and can even get married on a week day then you will have less trouble.

The crucial factors to be determined before you start looking at different venues for weddings are your budget, how many guests you are planning to invite and what part of the day the wedding will cover, for example day and afternoon or evening as well.

You then need to see which locations are available in your area – traditional choices would include churches, hotels and stately homes but there are also more unusual wedding venues such as castles and museums. If you are more of the outdoors type you may prefer one of the many outdoor wedding venues such as a beach, a park or botanical gardens. Either have a drive around and see which ones take your fancy or search on the internet and visit the relevant websites to gather your first impressions. You could also attend a local bridal fair as all of the local venues will most likely be exhibiting.

Now that you have a short list of venues to consider you will need to visit each one and gather a raft of information to help you make your final selection. Pick up their weddings brochure so you can understand exactly what they offer, for what price and what restrictions they impose. Also take your camera with you and take some pictures of the reception rooms and bedrooms as after you have visited a few places they will all merge into one.

Here are some important wedding venue questions to answer for each venue so that you can compare them against each other later:

Dates available

You will probably have a rough date in mind for your big day but it is worth checking whether the wedding reception venue is available not only on that day but also a week or so either side. You may find your perfect venue is very expensive on the weekend you had planned but is less so on a week day. As such you may want to compromise on the day to secure the venue of your dreams.

Wedding Photography By Jon Day.

First impressions

Consider how you were treated at each location and during your initial phone call if you made one. Were the staff unattentive or uninterested in you and all of your questions? If so, things are unlikely to improve over the course of planning the wedding and the big day itself.

Guest capacity

There are many small wedding venues that offer intimate surrounds for a gathering of close friends and family. If however, your wedding party is on the large side, your venue needs to be able to cope with the number of guests you are inviting. You want to ensure that the capacity is also not too big though or your reception will feel swamped. Often larger hotels can screen off parts of larger function rooms for smaller wedding parties but it is best to check during the planning stage.

Licensed for wedding ceremonies

You can get married at many wedding reception venues and if this is what you are planning you need to ensure that the venue is licensed for carrying out wedding ceremonies. It can make it a lot easier for both the bridal party and the guests to combine the ceremonial and reception venues as there is no driving between locations and refreshments are available for guests both pre and post ceremony.


The variation in wedding venue prices will be immense. As well as being dependent upon the stature of the venue it will vary with what is actually included in a package price. You need to go over any estimates in great detail to ensure you are comfortable with what is included and more importantly what is not. An unexpected bill at the end of the day will not be a nice wedding present.

Most hotels package their venue price with other extras that they arrange such as the ceremony, reception food and decoration, toastmaster, evening disco and many other wedding supplies. If you want to leave some of the preparations with someone else to worry about, some hotels will offer a complete service where they take care of everything. If you want more control you can just rent the venue and chairs and tables and organise everything else yourself down to table linen, catering and waiting staff.

Try and obtain estimates for the various different packages that the venue has to offer along with an extras price list so that you can add or remove items to fit in with your budget. Ask about the discounts available for large wedding parties and try and find out what number of guests would constitute a small wedding that would not take up the venue’s largest function room. Make sure you are advised of what typical additional charges are made to other wedding bookings and whether or not taxes are included in the figures you have been quoted. Determine whether the cost would change significantly if the date was moved a week forwards or backwards or if a week day was chosen instead. Finally you need to know how much of a deposit is needed, payment terms for this and the final bill and what the cancellation terms are.

Bridal suite

Unless you are planning on jetting off on honeymoon straight after your wedding reception, you will want to check out the bridal suite. Is it beautiful, how much does it cost and is it included in the price you have been quoted?

Photo by CarlosMendozaPhoto.

Accommodation for guests

If you have many friends and family who live out of the area, the chances are they will need accommodation for the wedding night as well as the night before perhaps. The ideal location for them to stay would be the wedding venue if the price and accommodation is suitable. When you visit the location be sure to view the rooms that would be allocated, ensure they have sufficient availability for the nights required and attempt to negotiate a discounted rate for your guests.

Location of ceremony

If you will be married at the wedding venue, you want to ensure there is sufficient room at the alter for all those you envisage needing to be there, including the minister, the bridesmaids, photographer, pageboys etc. You also need to make sure that there are good backdrops for your wedding photos.

If you are planning a wedding outdoors in the gardens of the venue, check with the event organiser that they have a contingency plan in case of rain. They need to be able to accommodate the ceremony and reception indoors if need be. It is also worth looking around inside the venue for some beautiful locations should the need to take indoor photos arise.

Reception & evening party

Drinks and accommodation should be available for guests while the wedding photo session is going on. Check out what the menu choices are for the wedding breakfast and how the overall price will change depending on the food chosen. Ensure the caterers can cope with vegetarian and other dietary requirements. Find out whether you are able to have a band or disco at the evening party or whether there are restrictions on playing loud music. The closing time of the venue is another important consideration to be confirmed up front.

Most wedding venues have their own list of preferred wedding suppliers, so they will have a florist, DJ and decorator that they are used to hiring. If you want to arrange your own suppliers, you need to ensure there are no restrictions to doing this stipulated by the venue or any limitation on what your suppliers can do.

Other facilities

If you have children coming to the wedding and reception, it is worth asking whether the venue can arrange fully insured and regulated babysitting services.

Take a look at the car parking facilities. Will there be enough spaces for all of your guests and is the parking complementary?

If you are having an evening dance, is the dance floor large enough?

Special requests

Have a think about those weddings that you have attended. Did any aspects of the wedding venues grab your attention that you would like to replicate? You could also ask family and friends for their ideas.

Wedding venue staff members

Another key consideration when choosing a venue is how you feel about the wedding co-ordinator or member of staff who will be dealing with the planning of your wedding. If the venue is perfect but you do not feel comfortable or confident in the manager you are dealing with, you may be better off picking another venue. This is your big day and you need to ensure that those helping you make it special are on your wave length. Communication problems are easy to come across. Jot down important information that you glean from any conversations and e-mail the venue to confirm your understanding of all the details. It will be too late on the day to argue the toss.

Final selection

When you have checked through all of the above thoughts for a few weddings venues and have a few estimates, you are able to compare prices on the front runners to see what different value you are getting from each location. It is now advisable to visit your favourite venues on the day of a wedding so you can see exactly how it looks with all the wedding decorations, marquees, gazebos etc. There is nothing like seeing the venue in all its glory (or lack of) to visualise your big day.

You should now be in a position to choose your perfect wedding venue. Overall trust your instincts as your first impressions will probably not be far off.

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