There’s certainly plenty of things to think about when planning your wedding, there’s the date, you guestlist, the dress and lots of big decisions like who will make up your wedding party, such as your bridesmaids and best men.

However, one decision that you absolutely should not underestimate is picking your wedding venue. The location you decide upon is one of the most instrumental parts of your wedding, the base for your day, the backdrop for your wedding photographs and the place in which memories of a lifetime will be created.  So, how do you make sure that you get this important decision right?

What To Look For in a Wedding Venue

To help you, we have put together our guide to choosing a wedding venue, a helpful tool to make sure that you pick the perfect place for both you and your fiancée.

A quick tip before you begin, take your time. As with any decision, the more research and time you can dedicate, the more rewarding the outcome, searching for your ideal wedding venue with no time restraints will be easier and a lot more exciting!

The details you need to start your venue search

It’s no good looking for a venue when you don’t fully know your requirements, address these areas at the start of your search and you’re on to find a winner;

Budget

One thing that every couple should do before embarking on their epic wedding planning challenge, is to figure out a realistic budget. A budget may not sound like the most exciting consideration, but without it your off to a more complex process falling into the trap of many planning pitfalls and mistakes.

Start by dictating what you want your final wedding spend to be (plus a 5% contingency) and then begin to split up your budget into different areas alongside researching each element such as your venue, food and drink, photographer, dress, cake, flowers and many more.

Must have | Free Wedding Budget Spreadsheet

The Guestlist

To choose your ideal wedding venue, you need to have an idea on the number of guests you want to invite to establish whether you are searching for a venue with a capacity for 50-75, over 100 or a dedicated small intimate venue suitable for Micro Weddings.

If you have your heart set on a wedding for say 50 guests, ensure this is feasible by beginning to write down who you would like to invite. Many brides have told us their envisioned guestlist number was not achievable when they began writing down names, as the number left no invites for vital guests or would simply divide family members. This initial number of 50 can quickly escalate to 100 or be dropped down to 25, completely changing your venue search.

There’s certainly no hard fast rules on who you should or shouldn’t invite, our biggest advice is to think about who you truly want there on your big day regardless of their relationship to you, ie: friend, relative, colleague, neighbour.

The area

The location of your wedding is entirely up to you as a couple, be it your local area, miles from home or in a completely different country but you need to narrow down areas before deciding on which venue is right for you.

Considering a destination wedding? | The Best Places to get Married Abroad

Know your style

Your venue needs to match how you envisage your wedding. If a fairytale style comes to mind you could consider a castle, villa or country house whereas if you want an ultra modern celebration an industrial space may be more your style.

If you dream of a rustic wedding, then a venue right in the heart of the country is a perfect option however if you feel like somewhat of a city slicker, then there are plenty of city-based venues in which you can say ‘I Do’. You can even find a wedding venue by the sea, at the top of a mountain, on a yacht or in the middle of a desert!

To get you on the right track when it comes to wedding styles, look at a selection of recent Real Weddings, you may surprise yourself with the theme that evolves when you understand the weddings that appeal to you most.

Get Inspired | Venue styles

List the things that are a must have

Whilst the majority of venues have the same kind of offerings, there are some that have different rules and regulations that you will need to keep in mind. It is a good idea to sit down and draw up a list of all the things that you are going to want from your wedding venue, that are absolutely 100% non-negotiable. Let’s take a look at some of the main must have considerations that could make their way onto your list.

Accomodation– Venues featuring onsite accommodation can be seen as a necessity especially when hosting a wedding with a majority of guests not local to the area. A high number of venues offer excellent options for guests from boutique styled rooms to trendy glamping.

Exclusive Hire– If you want to host your wedding in a venue with complete privacy featuring just you and your guests then you need to opt for a venue offering exclusive hire.

Licensed– When it comes to hosting your wedding ceremony for it to be legally recognised the venue will need a marriage license. Some venues have several areas in which you can choose to legally marry whereas others offer only a symbolic ceremony.

Weekend Hire– A modern take on wedding celebrations is to enjoy a whole weekend of it, a vast number of venues now offer weekend hire to ensure you can really make the most of this special occasion.

Pet Friendly– If having your beloved dog, cat or even horse present at your wedding is your thing then you are in luck as there are some excellent choices when it comes to pet friendly wedding venues.

Eco Friendly– If your life revolves around being eco-friendly, there’s no reason why your wedding can’t, with many venues adapting to eco-friendly ways.

Catering – Would you prefer your venue to include catering as a part of their service or do you want to bring in your own specialist caterers? This mainly comes to down to the preferred cuisine you want on the day, if you’re a real foodie then the type of catering is certainly going to feature as one your must haves.

Live Music -If hiring a band or acoustic performer is high up your priority list make sure your desired venues don’t have a sound limit or simply don’t allow live music.

Fireworks – another popular addition to a wedding day is to watch an epic firework display, some venues do have strict rules against their use, so do your homework to make sure you’re not disappointed.

Select Venue Features that are Important to you | Wedding Venue Finder

Availability for your chosen date

Once you begin shortlisting venues, availability needs to be high on your priority list. Some venues will have their most desired dates booked 2-3 years in advance and as of 2020 postponements and cancellations have increased demand for popular dates.

Be realisitic when it comes to dates, the more flexible you can be, the more options you will have. Narrowing down to a couple of months across a particular year and stating you wish for a Saturday wedding is a good start.

Weekday weddings are certainly becoming more and more popular, and we love the appeal. For one, it saves on your budget and weekends are seen very differently compared to centuries ago with many industries requiring weekend work hours as a norm. If guests really want to come to your wedding then they will regardless of the day of the week.

You may become really lucky but picking an actual date, ie: 7th August without any wiggle room could leave you disappointed and can result in you missing out on venues that are perfect for you. If it comes down to your dream venue or the date you want, only you can decide which is of most importance.

Visiting Venues

Venues digital presence certainly improved during 2020, from virtual tours to personal zoom calls, with more and more video content really allowing you to visualise the space itself but when safety allows visits are definitely worth while. They allow you to take in the atmosphere whilst giving you a better idea of scale and space, plus you have the chance to speak to the people who will be organising and running your special day.

If travel distance allows we recommend viewing venues on two separate occasions, initially as a consultation to visit as a blank canvas and once again during a wedding fair or event. Seeing the space dressed in wedding decor can really help you visualise your day, even if it’s not exactly to your taste seeing the venue set up can help you make your final decision.

Prepare for venue viewings by taking a checklist so you can compare venues, think about relevant questions to ask, what you need to know and things to consider.

How many wedding venues should I view?

There’s no magic number, but you can’t view them all, it comes down to creating a decisive shortlist. Photographs, reviews, videos, email contact and venue descriptions should be enough to allow you to choose a handful of suitable venues.

Sometimes it’s always worth adding a wild card into your viewing list, otherwise how do you know that your favourites online are 100% the right place for you.

Must Have | Free Wedding Venue Checklist

Always ask about deals or offers

Weddings are expensive; however, they are also part of a hugely competitive market, which means if you can try and save yourself some money and the venue are happy to give some kind of a deal, then it is worthwhile trying. Some venues may give you the bridal suite for the night, some venues may provide you with a number of lower cost rooms for your guests to book. You may also be able to secure yourself welcome drinks or canapes, even the smallest of details can have a positive impact on your entire budget.

Look at real wedding photography & videos featuring potential venues

Unless a venue is brand new to weddings, couples will have got married there and it’s really helpful to see how your potential wedding venue looks during an actual wedding day. This can be as simple as searching your venue plus wedding in google or finding photographers that have worked there via social platforms. Real wedding photos give you the expertise on how the space is used in the real world as opposed to styled shoots that will feature in venues brochures and websites.

Choosing between two wedding venues?

If you have narrowed down your shortlist and are torn between two venues then you may want to step back and look at other factors, reviews, attention to detail and ultimately who do you feel would go that extra mile to make sure your wedding day is perfect. Go with your gut, you can’t be more honest then that, go with your gut and follow your heart!

Dream up the ways that you are going to make it your own

So, you have chosen your wedding venue, you know exactly where it is going to be held and you know the date. Well, now comes the fun of thinking of all the ways that you are going to decorate, design and theme the space to ensure that it is reflective of you both as a couple. Of course, the overall ambience, atmosphere and vibe of your big day is going to come from the venue in its basic form, however, there is also likely to be plenty of things that you can do to further make it your own and create the perfect setting for the wedding of your dreams.

Floristry, wedding day stationery, additional lighting, photo booths, artisan mobile catering, neon lights, there’s an abundance of options when it comes to decorating & styling your wedding venue.

Decor & Style Advice | Inspirational Ideas

Find your perfect wedding venue

Being one of the first wedding planning decisions, booking your wedding venue certainly deserves some dedicated time and attention. As you can see, there’s plenty of helpful tips when it comes to choosing the right venue for you but relax, go with your heart and enjoy the exciting options available.

The Wedinspire platform is ready to hold your hand when it comes to finding your venue, with Wedding Planning Guides full of inspiring ideas & real weddings, and a diverse wedding venue portfolio containing the best the world has to offer when it comes to places to say ‘I Do’.

Wedding Venues You Will Love | Inspire Me