The beginning stages of wedding planning are both exciting and daunting, on the one hand you have hours of browsing gorgeous bridal imagery and on the other important decisions need to be skillfully navigated.

One of the first priorities during your wedding planning journey should be finding the right place to say ‘I Do’. Not only is this one of the biggest decisions you’ll make, but it’s also the most important, since it will dictate the overall theme and running of your special day.

Wedding Venue search preparation

It’s worth giving plenty of due diligence to researching your wedding venue but before doing so there’s some preparation you should undertake, here’s nine important questions every couple should ask themselves, to help the planning journey run smoothly;

1. Religious or non-religious when it comes to the ceremony?

It’s possible that you will know the answer to this straight away, however it’s important to be clear on your plans from the get-go. If you’re planning a religious ceremony, you may be limited to certain areas in relation to your church, or you might need to be in close proximity to attend pre-marriage classes or the reading of banns.

If you decide to opt for a non-religious ceremony its worth deciphering at this point your views on the ceremony legalities. For example many couples during destination or UK weddings partake in a blessing ceremony and complete marriage formalities prior, due to location legal requirements. If you want to be legally married at the point you announce ‘I Do’  your venue search will need to be specific to licensed venues and to be held within a country that recognises marriage as legal in the UK.

Read more | Church Wedding vs Civil Wedding Ceremony

2. How many are on our guestlist?

The size of your wedding party is going to play an important part in your big day and will depict the type of wedding venue you can hire. Larger parties have the benefit of bigger locations, while smaller parties can enjoy more intimate retreats. Firstly, get together and write a list of all the people you really want present on your big day, those that are a possibility and any guests who you would like to join for evening celebrations.

Along with the 2020 restrictions came the increased popularity of micro weddings and even tougher decisions on guest list choices. Whether you have your heart set on a wedding with 20 guests or 220, you need to firm up your estimated numbers before you begin searching for a venue to ensure its suitability.

3. Where do we want to get married, location wise?

Every couple has a place that is sentimental to them. This might be a priority for your wedding venue, or it might be a ‘nice to have’. Think about who you plan to invite and consider the travel arrangements involved. Weddings with lots of international guests tend to benefit from central wedding venues that have better transport links. This may also influence whether you find a venue that offers on-site accommodation too.

Search by location | Wedding Venue Finder

4. What’s our wedding budget?

It’s important to remember that you as a couple are the ones that dictate the final cost of your wedding, be it £2,000 or £200,000 you need to distinguish what your wedding budget is.

Before you contemplate seriously looking for your wedding venue you need to have officially spoken about wedding finances together and agreed the final number you both have in mind and the means in which this will be accounted for, be it savings, contributions or loans (yes, this is your big day but before borrowing remember this is one celebration before the start of married life, where you won’t want to find yourself in struggling debt).

Many wedding venues include pricing structures on their websites providing handy resources when completing your wedding budget. Your venue is likely take the largest chunk of your budget but the key is to not blow it all in this area, there’s still other wedding essentials such as photography and outfits.

Must have | Free Wedding Budget Spreadsheet

5. Do we want to go big, medium or small?

Give some thought to whether you want an extravagant grand wedding or classic more relaxed occasion? Your wedding reception venue should reflect your wedding vision. This extends to whether you want bridesmaids, ushers, groom’s men on the big day, as well as your thoughts for  a stag and hen night. Once you have an idea of the scale of your wedding, you’ll be able to plan with confidence.

6. Do we have a theme or venue in mind?

From barn to beach, country house to castle; is there a wedding venue or theme important to your wedding day? For instance, Christmas weddings are often inspired by winter themes, and beach weddings tend to be more modern casual affairs. If you can agree your wedding style in advance, it will help whittle down wedding venues from the many thousands available.

Search | Exciting Wedding Venue Collections & Themes

7. What’s at the top of our priority list?

One of the most important questions to ask yourself at the beginning of your wedding planning journey has to be, what is the greatest priority for your wedding? This could be walking down the aisle in designer couture, indulging in a secluded retreat or arriving on a festival styled double decker bus. However crazy it may sound, this is your day.

A useful technique is to go through all the elements that make up your big day and categorise them by importance. Crucial to this – what are the areas you’re not willing to compromise on? What are the factors you would happily compromise on, and what is low on your priority list that you could leave out if required? This will help you understand what’s important to you both as a couple during wedding planning.

Once you begin searching for venues with these priorities in place you may find yourself looking for pet friendly venues, exclusive use venues or options which incorporate accommodation onsite.

8. What time of year do you want to get married?

The season in which you choose to get married has a huge impact not only on the day itself but also your wedding budget. In the UK, peak wedding season tends to be between May and October, with weekends costing more than week days. If you’re planning to go abroad, seasonal timings do differ depending on location.

Give consideration to your preference. You may find that if you’re open to all options and willing to compromise, you can find the best solution for you and your budget.

Week day weddings are certainly becoming more of the norm and out of season does not mean your day will be enjoyed any less. We’ve seen many incredible styled Autumnal weddings!

Keep in mind the most desirable June, July and August weekend dates will get booked at venues at least 18 months in advance.

9. What experience do we want our guests to have?

As a final thought, it’s useful to think about what sort of day you want your guests to have. Some couples focus on the ‘guest experience’ at every stage, others take more interest in the backdrop for photos, or its flexibility around the weather. 

Think about what is important to you as a couple and how the right wedding venue can deliver this. Do you imagine alfresco dining amongst vineyards and olive groves, a glamping celebration in rustic woodland or world famous sea views as the backdrop to saying your vows?

Next steps…

Once you’ve gone through all these questions, the next exciting step is to discover your unique place to say ‘I Do’ and we certainly know a thing or two about exciting wedding venues.

Armed with your clear list of requirements, our trusted and comprehensive platform is packed full of all the venue info you need. Start by getting inspired or use our ultimate Wedding Venue Finder. Using filters for location, capacity, type and budget, you can effortlessly find the wedding venue of your dreams, freeing up your time to focus on other things, like wedding cake tasting and dress shopping – we’ll drink to that!