Planning a wedding means that you have plenty of things to think about and plan for. There is your date, your guest list, your wedding dress and how will make up your wedding party, such as your bridesmaids and best man.

However, one decision that you absolutely should not underestimate is picking your wedding venue. Your wedding venue is one of the most important parts of your wedding, it is the base for the day, the backdrop for your wedding photos and the location for your memories. So, how do you make sure that you get this important decision right?

What To Look For in a 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 you and for your soon to be husband or wife, to say those all-important vows to one another.

There is absolutely no point in rushing this huge decision, in fact, the longer that you can give yourself to find a venue, then the better. Of course, there are some couples or circumstances that mean that the decision needs to be rushed somewhat, however, if you have the luxury of time, then enjoy it, because this will make the entire process that little bit easier.

Setting your budget

One thing that every couple should do before they embark on the epic planning challenge that is a wedding, is to figure out how much of a budget they can realistically have. A budget may not sound like the most exciting consideration out there, but it is something that will really be helpful. Not only will it give you something to aim for when you are looking for all those important purchases, such as the venue, but it will also help you to save, or to make sure that you don’t end up in huge amounts of debt just so that you can get married.

Set an overall wedding budget and then split if for the difference things that you need to think about, a wedding venue budget, food and drink, photographer, dress, cake, flowers etc.

Think about a rough guest list

Another thing that is important to consider before choosing a wedding venue, is the type of capacity that you are likely to want. You don’t need to have firm numbers, or even know who exactly is going to be on the guest list, but you do need to give some careful thought around the people that you are likely to want to invite. This will help you to filter down the venues that are open to you, as, you will definitely be limited by the capacity that they can offer.

The number of guests also allow you to target specific venues, such as small intimate venues for close friends and family, or larger venues for over 100 people.

Picture how you want your wedding to look

You are going to want to find a venue that is going to match with how you picture your wedding. If you are the type of people that like the thought of something intimate, then you are going to want to choose a venue that can fulfil this ideal, similarly, if you are the type of couple who like the idea of living their own fairy-tale, and don’t mind being in a large venue, then you could consider a venue such as a castle or a large country house.

Choose an area that you want to get married in

There is a good chance that you are going to want to have your wedding day in your own local area, however, there are exceptions to this. One big decision should always be where you are going to want to hold your big day. If you have a number of guests who are not local and that will have to travel, then you will want to try and hold your venue somewhere that is easy to access, it is also worthwhile thinking about the accommodation choices in the local area too, as this will have a huge impact on some of the guests.

Know your own style and theme

Your wedding day is all about you as a couple and the things that you both like. Which means that your venue should definitely fit the bill. If you dream of a rustic wedding, then a venue right in the heart of the country might be the perfect place for you to go. However, if you feel like somewhat of a city slicker, then there are plenty of city-based venues that you can say I do in. You can even find a wedding venue if you want to be by the sea, or even if you want to get hitched up the top of a mountain.

Think about whether or not you are happy to have everything under one roof

The typical approach to a wedding is to have the ceremony at a church, followed up by the wedding breakfast and reception at a separate venue. However, this doesn’t mean that this is the only option that is open to you. There are some venues that offer up an all in one approach to your wedding day, acting as the ceremony venue and the wedding breakfast/reception too. Some have separate areas for both of these important parts of your wedding day, whilst some have everything all in one room. It is vital that you think about how you think that your wedding day would pan out and whether you are concerned about having it in one place.

Choosing the Perfect Wedding Venue

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 should make their way onto the list.

Catering – some venues include catering as a part of their service, if you are happy to use their catering options then this may not be a problem, but you may have certain ideas on what you want your catering to be, which means that a venue with a set caterer could be a problem for you.

Suppliers – similarly to the caterer, some venues also have a set list of suppliers that they request that you use during your wedding day. This could include florists or a DJ, which means that if you have set ideas on who you want to offer up those all-important parts of your wedding day, then you need to look for another venue.

Live Music – for some couples the idea of live music, such as a band or acoustic performer is a must have. However, there are some venues that do not allow live music to perform within their setting. If this is definitely going to be a choice that you make, then you will need to continue your hunt.

Fireworks – another popular addition to a wedding day is to have fireworks to celebrate the union of two people in love. However, fireworks aren’t something that is allowed in all venues.

Visit venues when holding a wedding fayre as well as when they are not

It is a great idea to visit a wedding venue when it is empty as it is a blank canvas that you will be able to envisage just as you want it to look. However, this can be a hard ask. Therefore, it makes sense to take the opportunity to visit the venue when it is holding a wedding fayre. Whilst it may not be decorated just as it would be for you, it is a great way to get a sense of how it looks when it is in wedding mode, rather than just everyday mode.

When you go to view venues take a checklist so you can compare venues, also think about questions to ask, what you need to know and things to consider.

Always ask about the 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.

How many wedding venues should I view?

There is no magic number, but you cannot view them all, so it is about creating a shortlist and viewing those. Pictures of a venue can show how it could look on your day, but visiting a venue gives you an idea for how it feels to you, a better idea of scale and space, and a chance to speak to the people who will be their helping set it all up and running your special day.

You may have a particular venue in mind when it comes to your wedding day, however, it really does pay to take the time to visit a few different venues. Otherwise, how can you know that it is 100% the right place for you.

When you see a venue in the flesh, then you can really get a sense of whether or not it is the right venue for you as a couple. You may even be surprised by the vibes that you get from a venue that you may not have always thought about before you viewed it.

Download our Checklist

Download our Checklist

Our free wedding venue checklist PDF allows you to print off copies to take with you on your wedding venue road trip.

When viewing venues make sure to take notes, jot down questions to ask. Doing this makes it easier to compare venues and also remind yourself of key things to ask, download out checklist above and take this with you.

Look at real-life videos or photos of the venue

Whilst you would like to be the first couple to ever get married at your chosen wedding venue, there are going to be other couples who got there first. It is worthwhile using this as a chance to see how your chosen wedding venue looks when an actual couple are getting married there. Take a look at the portfolio of photographers that have worked with couples at the venue before, as this will give you a great chance to see how it looks in the real world, rather than the set-up photos that will feature in their brochures and websites.

Check availability for your chosen date

Once you have a venue in mind that you want to hold your wedding at, then comes the time when you need to see if it is free on the date that you plan to get married. Of course, unless your wedding date is absolutely set in stone, then there should be a touch of wiggle room for the date, however, if this is something that you simply cannot move then this could have an impact on the venue that you end up choosing.

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.

It really does pay to give some careful thought to your wedding venue, especially since it is one of the most important decisions that you are both going to make as a couple planning a wedding. However, the problem is that it isn’t always as straightforward or easy as you may hope that it is going to be.

That said, as you can see, there are plenty of ways that you can try to make the process of finding and booking your wedding venue that little bit easier. In fact, we are sure in the long run, that you will find the ideal place for you to create some happy memories for your future and you can focus on all the other important aspects of planning a wedding as well as lose yourself in all the excitement (and sometimes stress) that comes with putting together your dream wedding day.

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, who do you feel will go that extra mile to make sure your wedding day is perfect.

Go with your gut, if there is one you keep going back to and feel you know is the one, then go with your gut and follow your heart.