Ask Jenny – How far is too far…?

Hi Jenny,

I’m having a big wobble about reception venues, and how far it is acceptable to ask guests to travel, and I’m hoping you might be able to offer some advice..

The background – my fiancé’s family will be coming from Ireland, and most of my family will be coming from up north (Lancashire way). In addition, we will also have guests coming from America (we hope!) and Switzerland. So a lot of people already coming a long way to be at our wedding.

The wedding – the Church we want to get married in is the Parish Church where I grew up, and where my parents still attend, in Amersham, Buckinghamshire. It means an awful lot to me, and my parents, that this is where we’ve decided to get married.

And now for the ‘but’ – all of the reception venue’s I’ve seen that I’ve fallen in love with are all about 30-45 minutes drive (or more) from the Church. I’ve always dreamed of getting married in a barn, or possibly a marquee decked out to look like a barn (!!), and I haven’t found any which are closer to Amersham that’s not ridiculously out of our budget (like, double than what we can afford!)

So this has thrown up a real question for me – how far is acceptable to ask guests to travel between wedding and reception? I’ve thought about putting on transport from the Church to the reception, such as a coach or bus, but then how do guests get back to their cars afterwards? (and there’s nowhere for them to leave their cars at the Church) Plus there’s then the added issue that many barns don’t have accommodation on site – so I’d be asking guests to travel again from the reception to their rooms for the night, although I’m hoping that might be solved by persuading them to all stay in the same hotel and then providing taxis/mini-buses at the end of the night!

Please help me, Jenny, can you suggest what you think is acceptable? For me, it will be having all of our family and friends at our big day that will make the perfect day, over the ‘perfect’ reception, but I’m still struggling to make that compromise!

Thanks for your help!!

Julia Kirkup

Dear Lovely Venue Wobbly Julia,

You sound as though you are in such a pickle, why do we do it to ourselves?!

First off, let me offer you some reassurance. I drove an hour from a Cathedral wedding to the reception venue for a very close friends wedding, which was also in a different village to that of the hotel I was staying in for the night, and it wasn’t an issue for me. It was a case of having to be organised. Oh, and it took me almost three hours to get to the Cathedral in the first place from where I lived too. And I had to get into my dress in the passenger seat of the car (this was very poor time management on my part! We got stuck on the motorway in traffic).

So from the ceremony itself we drove an hour to the Hotel to check in, drop our bags off and freshen up, then had a taxi pre booked to drive us to the reception venue. It honestly wasn’t any hassle at all, when we arrived at the venue everyone else arrived at pretty much the same time, and we had some champagne and canapés to relax, quench our thirst, and catch up with old friends. The bride and groom planned the timing perfectly, and it was one of the best weddings I have ever been to. They did it exactly as they wanted.

When you splurge such a huge amount of money on a wedding, and invest so much time into planning, isn’t it best to remain true to your dreams and have the day you really want to have? Why compromise, unless you really really have to?

I’m going to open this up to our community because you won’t be alone in feeling a bit stressed about this, it was something that was important to me in my planning too, but I shouldn’t have wasted my energy worrying, your loved ones will be there come hell or highwater!

Has this helped at all?

Love,

Jenny x

Author: Jenny

37 thoughts on “Ask Jenny – How far is too far…?

  1. Dear Julia
    I was worrying of the exact same problem, We are getting married in my fiancee’s family church and then travelling the best part of an hour to my dream wedding venue South Farm (it too is a barn in a working farm with a gorgeous yellow house and beautiful gardens – Sorry off track a bit gushing about the venue! lol) The point is thinking as highly as we did on our choice of reception venue and after walking into the church realising we had no option but to marry there as it just felt right to us. We too realised we had a logistic problem. Most of my dad’s side live in london and the rest live very local apart from the few that live in lanzarote, so again like you I was worried since some are travelling far already, but I’m sure you had this feeling when looking at your first choice venue. You walk round it and can almost see your day and nowhere else compares to it, yet everywhere you go you find yourself referring back to it. I realised exactly what Jenny said to you, why comprimise. Julia this is the one day you should be given permission to be selfish and have everything you and your fiancee desire. The people who are invited to this day are your nearset and dearest – they will travel for you.

    Kind Regards
    Laura Clarke

  2. Our reception venue was about 25 – 35 minute from our church (depending on how fast the driver was and if they knew the short way!), and as far as I’m aware, no one found it to be a problem.

    It also gave me and my husband the chance to take a few moments together, just us two, which was so lovely.

    I also loved the fact that as our guests drove past there was a lot of horn beeping, waving and so many smiley faces – it was such a nice feeling!!

    As for people travelling – we were married in Yorkshire, and had people travel from so many places, they wanted to be there for our big day so a bit of driving didn’t put them off. We just made sure we had good directions enclosed with our invitations!

    Go with your gut feel – you will make the right choice.

    xoxo

  3. Here Here! I totally agree with Jenny, and Laura.

    I have moved a few times since School, and then again after Uni (and all my friends did the same) so I have some logistically challenged friendships!!! But I wouldn’t dream of not being there for their big days, the same as I know I can ask them to travel for mine, whether it be the distance to get there, or on the day itself.

    The Furthest I’ve travelled between ceremony and reception is 1 1/2 hours (though it only took everyone else an hour – map reading is not my strong point!!) and I didn’t even notice the time, I was just looking forward to the rest of the day. Friends and family will want to be part of your big day wherever you have your ceremony/reception!!

    Ellie

  4. Can people park at your reception venue?

    If so then I don’t think people mind driving between church and reception – most people are used to it.

    As long as they can leave their cars overnight at the reception venue I think that’s fine.

    If you were feeling especially generous you could get a coach to drop people off at the end of the night – or maybe the next morning to pick people up to collect their cars.

    Katie – where in yorkshire did you get married? We’re just looking at venues there now…

    xx

  5. I think that most people at your wedding will be there full of goodwill and wanting to be make your day happy and to be happy themselves. They won’t be looking to criticise but to enjoy the day and celebrate with you. I doubt it will even occur to them.

    And most people are very happy to be organised as long as they don’t have to think too much about it anyway!

    Have the day you dreamed of and enjoy every minute!

  6. I am going to a wedding in May where there is a 30-40 minute drive between the church an reception venue. What the bride and groom are doing is requesting that people park at the reception venue, then a lovely vintage bus is picking them up and bringing them to the church. Then after the ceremony the bus will return everyone to the reception venue.
    I do not think this is a service they had to provide, everyone loves them so much that they would be more than happy to travel :-) However, it put the bride and groom’s minds at rest about the distance.

    xXx

  7. Lizzie – our reception was at Oulton Hall, but we must have looked at dozens of venues in Yorkshire. Can give you a whole heap of recommendations if you wanted lovely – just let me know xx

  8. I live in cheshire and am asking all my family and friends to come to cornwall for my wedding :-) xxx
    I wouldn’t mind travelling for a wedding its your day so go for it xxx

  9. I honestley would advise that any close friends and family will always make the journey to the venue and the drive between venues for someone they love. I have done something very similar for a friends wedding and didn’t mind at all – all added to the excitement of the day!

  10. I had exactly the same wobble when we found our dream venue, as it is a good 40 minute drive from the Church (where my Mum and Dad were also married!). I think it’s perfectly acceptable to ask guests to travel this far between your ceremony and venue, they are all there to support you and celebrate with you! You should go with you heart – it’s your big day! :) x

  11. Do what you want, but consider any non-drivers. I don’t drive, and have had huge problems getting from A to B at weddings before now. If I was in your shoes I’d either look again for a venue, or lay on transport. Personally I have chosen venues walking distance apart as I don’t want people driving to my wedding.

  12. Hi Katie – would LOVE LOVE recommendations please, venues and any other North Yorkshire suppliers would be amazing! I live in London but parents in North Yorkshire so tricky to know where to start!

    xxx

  13. We’re geting married in early June (getting close now..!)and had all the same questions as you when we were planning last year.

    We live in London, and have friends and family coming from New York, France and Germany as well as all over the UK.

    The church is local to my parents in Lancashire. We hunted for ages for a reception venue that was close to the church, or where people could stay the night as we were worried about them travelling again given the all had to travel so far to get there in the first place. But, there just simply weren’t any venues that even halfway met what we wanted.

    The place we’ve found is great, flexible, friendly and stunning, the only downside (and I mean only) was that it is 35 minutes drive away from the church in the Lancashire countryside and 20 minutes from the nearest hotel. We thought it might put some people off, but everyone we really want to be there is coming. We’ve also organised a bus to take people from church to venue, but to be honest, from the replies we’ve got so far about whether people want a place on the bus or will be driving, we could probably have done without it and just organised car sharing for those people stuck without transport.

    One of our ushers is in charge of organising how many people will be needing taxis to which hotel at the end of the night, so we don’t have to worry about that.

    So I say, go for what you want, people will remember the day, not the relatively short drive, and as long as you give people plenty of warning (and pay no attention to the US blogs which tell you to send out details 6 weeks before, try 6 months before if they need to book a flight..) then everything will be just fine.

    Katie – that’s great to hear – i’m really looking forward to the drive to the reception with my new husband, it will give us chance to reflect on the ceremony and look forward to the rest of the day

  14. I agree with Anne think of the people that can’t drive if you maybe set up a sort of car share. So that people don’t have to worry about how they will get there and I can’t imagine a 45min cab ride comes cheep.

    The church and my reception venue are a 10min walk from each other. So I had just assumed that people would walk or drive themselves but my mum was insistent that I should put on a bus incase it rains, so much so that she went and organised it herself. I kind of agree with her now though, it’s a dirt road up to the Tea House and because it’s near the Loch it gets pretty windy and cold. Made the walk, in the rain, last week it was pretty muddy and i don’t think I would expect people to walk it in their finest.

    I didn’t want anyone to feel put out because as much as it’s my day, I’m aware that not everyone cares about it as much as I do.

  15. Why not comprise by making sure that those people without transport can get help organizing it? I don’t think its a problem having to travel between venues but it can be hard for some people. You could set up a webpage through one of the online wedding page companies like http://www.gettingmarried.com (I’m sure there are others but I’ve seen that this one offers what I’m on about). When you set up a wedding webpage, it gives you the option of setting up a liftshare section. People with spare spaces can offer them up, and people without transport can find them – simple! I don’t think anyone minds traveling as long as the organization is relatively simple and no one gets left behind. Don’t compromise if you love the venue – you’ll find a way round it! Good luck!

  16. I had exactly the same conundrum in the early days of planning our wedding. Our local church is a good 45 minute drive from our reception venue (I too fell in love with a barn!). After a lot of wobbles and anguish we decided to get married in a church local to the reception venue.
    Although initially a bit dubious, we now make the journey to attend the new church every other Sunday and I now feel every bit as home there as I do in my local church. They have been very welcoming and made us feel part of that community.
    I’m not saying you should do the same as we have – several other factors came into place (ie. the M25 is between us and the reception venue so there was a potential for traffic disasters and I was also worried it would cut into the day) which influenced our decision. But I would say to investigate other alternatives before you make your decision.
    I think people would happily travel though, so if you really have your heart set on it, go for it!
    Hope that helps! Good luck with all the planning xx

  17. We had a wobble about this too. We got round it by making it clear right from the start about the time involved (30-40 mins drive) and putting on a coach for 50 people from the reception – there was a small hotel nearby and everyone else organised themselves with taxis. That left another 40 people needing to drive. It all worked out, family organised car pooling between them, there was apparently a massive party atmosphere on the coach which people loved, and no-one complained (to our faces).

    I don’t really like it when people say, it’s your day, be selfish. If that was the case then why invite anyone else to it? Yes, you’re getting married so do what makes the two of you happy, that’s very important when contemplating conflicting advice and opinions, but if you want everyone else there then you have to consider their feelings too, it’s just considerate and you’d appreciate it if it was someone else you know getting married.

    The only other thing I will say is that it did really eat into the timing of the day, which was a shame. But as long as you factor that into your schedule then it should be fine – we hopped into the car with our wedding photographers, stopped off for some photos, and arrived just after our guests through a shower of rose petals. Perfect :)

  18. I would agree with Debi with putting on a bus from the reception to the church and back. It will be fun for the guests too on both routes.

    Also I have seen on the wedding websites people have, that you can arrange car sharing if the bus there and back doesn’t suit your budget.

    You should go with the venue for the ceremony and the reception you think is best (within budget!) otherwise you could regret it.

    Good luck!

  19. I wouldn’t worry about the distance, id the venue is what you really want. Your guests love you and will do and go wherever you want them to. And as Katie says, the car ride between church and reception as newly-weds will be wonderful!

    That said, I did compromise my ideal venue for a hotel, as it was an easier option. I counted that, collectively, guests travelled 120,000 miles for us – from Australia, Bermuda, Egypt, Majorca, Holland, France, Aberdeen… Almost everyone required accomodation, and I decided travelling from church to reception to hotels would be too disjointed. In the end having everyone stay under one roof in a lovely village hotel for the whole weekend made it v special and relaxed and gave us more time to see people – so also worth thinking about. Good luck x

  20. Oh my goodness!!!

    Thank you so much for all your support, I feel quite overwhlemed, but very supported and loved :) Thank you all (including Jenny of course!!) for your advice, and I feel so relieved that you feel that asking guests to travel around a bit is actually ok… In hindsight, we’ve been to weddings before that have been a logistical challenge, but we’ve persevered through.. I guess I just had my niggling worries that others might not do the same for us!! So I feel greatly reassured :)

    Inbal, that’s great about the lift share website will definitely be checking that out, thanks for the link. I’ve also been thinking about putting on a bus or other transport, so maybe will research that a little bit more too… Perhaps with the ‘save the date’ cards, I could ask guests whether they’ll need transport of will provide their own? Or is that too much of an unusual thing to do???

    Much love and thanks to you all

    Julia xxxx

  21. Hi Julia,

    As soon as I read your letter, it reminded me of one of my favourite RMW weddings EVER – Claire and Nick. Their ceremony and reception were 60 miles apart, and they had a Londn bus to transport guests: http://www.rockmywedding.co.uk/a-reflection-of-us-part-2/

    The only thing I wondered when I read it was how the people got their cars back, so can understand your concern. Depending on the reception venue, you could ask guests to be there for a certain time, and then they hop on a bus to the church, and you all go back together after the ceremony. Or you hire a bus to take them back the next morning if they’re staying?

    The other option would be to put out a plea to anyone leaving in Amersham/Chesham etc who a) has a field for marquee b) knows someone with a field for a marquee c) Owns a field with a barn in it that you can decorate!!

    And remeber, guests WILL travel. My uncle is in NY, and his daughter/her hubby are in Dubai. Despite all the logistics and cost of them getting here, they all keep sending messages to say how excited they are, so DON’T WORRY!!

    Good luck :) xx

  22. On our invites we had a blurb about transport as its a 30 min drive between the two for us. We asked people to let us know if they’d be driving and if they’d have room to offer a lift to those folks without cars. It seems that there’ll be enough car seats for everyone, and nobody has complained that they’ll have a bit of a drive!

  23. Yes we had the same sort of concerns too. Our reception venue is in a wee town but are getting married in a wee country church about 20 minutes drive away…very easy to get lost getting there too.
    After sending out save the dates and speaking to guests we realised that a lot of people are going to stay in the town the night before the wedding too. So we have arranged a bus to pick people up in the town centre, take them to the church and then take them all back to the reception venue. Solved the what do people do with their cars issue as they can all walk back to the local hotels from the reception quite easily.
    On saying that though so many of our guests have told us it was so not necessary, they would have been able to sort themselves out, didn’t want us to go to the expense and all that…but it puts our minds at rest that no one will get lost in the countryside on route or get into a panic. So I have found that people will generally just be delighted to be invited to be part of your big day but a little piece of mind has certainly helped me… but then most of my friends are hopeless map readers lol! xxxx

  24. I have exactly the same worries. I found the perfect church. And then the perfect reception venue. And then realised they were at least 50 minutes apart, round narrow and awkward Devon country lanes. There is no way we could get a bus down the lanes so guests are just going to have to drive, having probably driven 4 1/2 hours the previous day from the Midlands.

    In the end I decided I just couldn’t compromise, and I hope that once the guests see the church and venue they will understand why nothing else would do for us. I think as long as people know about the journey beforehand, and are rewarded at the end with a glass of fizz, they will be happy enough (fingers crossed!)

    xx

  25. I agree with the people who believe that having your guests at your wedding is important to you, so therefore their comfort should also be important to you. I don’t think there is anything wrong with getting married a long way away – you will never be near everyone. But, if you choose to have a big drive in between, then for ease, hospitality, fuel costs and the environment it would be cool to put on transport from one main hotel to church then reception then back to hotel. No hassle, no stress, no-one getting lost, non-drivers catered for, everyone can have as much to drink as they like at any point in the day, etc. Problem solved, and it’s probably a lot cheaper than you thought, and you can charge each person a small contribution if you feel like it.

    We’re putting on a coach to pick all our guests up from their B&Bs straight to the wedding and then back again, and asking £5 a head. That’s door to door service, and the few people we have mentioned it to so far think it’s a fab idea. That said, we are only having 50 guests, so it’s do-able, and we will only have to pay about £40 on top of the contributions, so it works out well financially too.

    I suppose it’s all very well doing everything you want and having the day of your dreams, but how would it really make you feel if you found out three years down the line that people said ‘Oh yes, it was a lovely day, but all that travelling was awful’ instead of ‘Oh yes, it was such a fab wedding, we had such a great time’.

  26. I live where the red cross on the map picture is…up the top of Scotland. nearly always up here the couple lay on buses for guests to travel to a wedding, I have been to weddings where the bus is set to leave at a specific time so all guests attending need to be there before bus leaves.

    two of the wedding ceremonies we went to were 20mins away. one other was longer..maybe 25-30. the 1st two were all in the same hotel so all that was needed was buses to take us there & for night-time back into town. The church wedding that was 25-30 mins out of town, then had reception at a different location, about 10mins by bus from church, so buses took guests to church, reception then home into town at night.

    We were happy to travel to be there on our friends special days. But normally it is all put on by the wedding couple. we do not need transport as our ceremony & meal are all in one location. Nearly everyone invited to the wedding lives in town. but for the evening dance we are putting on a bus from Thurso to wick (25mins travel) for evening guests to get through to join us in the celebrations & then return them at around 2am.

    different strokes for different folks!

  27. I’m sure they will just be happy to be invited to share your special day and if not, you will enjoy it anyway!

    we have offered a coach from the hotel (where we’re having our reception & people are staying) to the church 45 min away & back to help people with parking & tricky directions. we’ve had to book 2 as people wanted to do this!

    so why don’t you organise a coach from a nearby hotel where they could stay to take them to the church & then onto the reception???

    people will be touched you’ve thought of them as they would probably sort this out themselves, just to be with you both!

  28. Hi,
    I haven’t read through all the replies to this so sorry if I am repeating what has already been said…

    I just wanted to let you know I have come across all sorts of venue ‘issues’ in my job – some receptions even in different cities from the ceremony! I make wedding maps (my website is http://www.hand-drawnmaps.co.uk) and one thing I do know is that there is no right or wrong when it comes to your wedding venues – but I think the key to a successful day is to plan accordingly and make provisions for your guests so that the day runs smoothly. It sounds like you are already doing this by thinking about organising a bus. If the majority of guests are all staying at the same hotel, perhaps you could have the bus pick them up from this location in the morning and drive them to each place throughout the day before dropping them off back at the hotel in the evening? This would give everyone a chance to park their cars and then they wouldn’t have to worry about travel at all!

    of course, if you want to help your guests negotiate the days journeying I’d be happy to help you out with a map ;-) 10% discount for RMW readers!

    Best of luck -x-

  29. Our reception is about a 30 minute drive from the church, but most of our guests will be staying either at the reception site or within walking distance of it. So guests will drive to the church and then to the reception, and then leave cars there. We’ll speak to the few without cars just before the wedding and arrange lift sharing or a minibus. My parents have refused to drive themselves (always helpful!), but are sorting out their own transport!

    Lizzie – I’m also a North Yorks bride and must have researched 50 venues, happy to share anything that will help! We chose The Old Lodge in Malton.

  30. I was worrying about the same thing… we were really set on a specific church, but for ages I couldn’t find a suitable venue that was within a reasonable distance of it AND within our budget. We eventually chose one which is around 15-20 minutes away, but we’re still going to arrange transport from the church for those who want it.

    I wouldn’t mind travelling 45 minutes if I was a guest at a wedding – I’m sure all your loved ones will be happy to do it so that you get your perfect day. I’d suggest just including a little map / directions / an estimation of distance in your invitation inserts so people can make their plans accordingly!

  31. Thanks again everyone for your help :) I’m definitely coming around to the idea of putting on trransport from hotel to church to reception and then back to church – it certainly would make the whole process easier for our guests, and a bit of bonding time too :)

    Thanks Mrs A to be, loved looking through the report for Claire and Nick’s wedding, I think a big red bus might be the answer!! I’ve sent off a few emails to local companies asking for quotes – can anyone recommend a red bus company or similar in the Buckinghamshire area??

    Julia xxxx

  32. Have you tried Stoke Place – its in Bucks – maybe close enough? Plenty of parking and love the idea of people arriving there then getting taken to ceremony and back again. Good Luck x

  33. I agree with Jenny – plan your day timing so that people have time to go from the church to their hotels to check in and then get taxi’s to the reception venue. Make sure your on-the-day event manager (if you have one) has a selection of taxi numbers for the end of the night too, in case people forget to book return trips, or want to wait and see how soon or late they want to go home. As long as there are canapes, drinks and / or a bar for your guests as they arrive at the reception venue to keep everyone happy till all your guests have arrived, it will be fine. You could also mention the timings in your invitations, so your travelling guests know they have time to follow your suggestions, and those not needing to go to the hotel first are prepared for the longer drinks reception. Hope you manage to get all the arrangements sorted out, and have a fantastic day.

  34. Dear Jenny,
    I know it has been quite awhile since this thread but have just been thrown a spanner in my wedding plans!
    I get married in October this year (2013) at Sherwood Forest Nottinghamshire. My partner and I both live in Sheffield which is approx 1/2 hour travelling time from the venue ( the wedding, reseptionist & evening do are at the same venue) . We have research a selection of hotels within a 10 mile radius from the venue and were sending that out to all our guests with the invites. Car parking is available at the venue free of charge all day. My guests are coming from Canada, the south of England , the north of England, Liestershire, and approx 25 guests from varies parts of Sheffield ( my Partners family and a few friends)
    My Sister in Law to be has said that I should be providing them (family that is) with a coach to take them to the venue and pick them up at the end of the day.
    I said no, if I was going to do that I would be able to afford transport for myself, plus if I did it for one I would have to do it for everyone.

    Is it too much to ask my Partners family to make their own way or to stay in hotels overnight like my family are doing or am I wrong ?

    Please help, my partner has said if his family insists on me paying to get them to his wedding then that’s it and I don’t want our wedding to be the startofa family war!!!!!!!

    Thanks Kathy

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