How to choose a wedding venue?… It’s arguably the most important decision you’ll make during your wedding planning and it generally happens right at the start of the process. You need to know you’ve got it right.
Hi, I’m Adam – an owner and Creative Director here at Rock My Ltd. In September 2016 It’s my turn to tie the knot and with everything I have seen and done in the industry over the last six years I thought it would be useful to share key parts of my wedding planning journey here on Rock My Wedding. Today I will be explaining why I chose Elmore Court for my wedding venue and giving you some top tips on how to ensure that your potential wedding venue is right for you.
The Back Story
Lizzie The Bride to be: Adam proposed on our 3 year anniversary, it was a beautiful may bank holiday weekend and we had spent it casually mooching around Cheltenham Jazz festival. I had been upstairs putting the finishing touches to our bathroom renovation project (which you can see over on Rock My Style).
I was summoned downstairs as Adam poured us both a glass of Champagne, a semi-regular thing for a Sunday evening in our house, but then as he dropped to his knee any regularity disappeared and both our lives changed forever. I know the kitchen isn’t your typical location for a proposal but it was perfect for us and it means we will always remember that moment whenever we walk into the kitchen to make a coffee… Which is a very regular event in our house!
The Wedding Planning Process
Adam The Groom to be / Wedding Blogger: Once we got engaged I suddenly realised that everything that had been “work” for the last six years just got real! Time to put everything I’d learnt into practice! I’m sure many of you will have experienced that it doesn’t take long after a proposal for a whole host of questions to begin to filling your brain… What? Where? When? And who?
We decided it made the most sense to start with “where”.
Choosing A Wedding Venue
I’ve collated a collection of top tips to consider when choosing your wedding venue which you can find below, but I thought you might like to hear how Lizzie and I came to choose Elmore Court for our wedding. Firstly, it is a stunning looking venue:
Our families all live relatively near to us, and with Cheltenham being on the doorstep of The Cotswolds we decided to try and find a country manor style venue in the rolling landscape of the Gloucestershire countryside. This fitted with the rough idea of the type and size of wedding we wanted although we were more than happy for a potential venue to impact upon our planning process, we were very open minded at this early stage in the wedding planning process and we wanted to see what was out there.
The Ceremony Space
Elmore Court, located in Gloucestershire was the very first venue we visited and it seemed to tick all the boxes on our venue checklist. Although still unsure on many of the details of our wedding we both agreed that we wanted a single venue for the whole event, we are also keen on getting married outside (weather permitting) and Elmore offer a variety of locations for the ceremony including inside and outside spaces. The original house has a few rather grand reception rooms that can be utilised immediately after the wedding if rain prevents the celebrations happening on the lawn. One of my concerns with hosting a wedding reception in a stately home style venue is that it’s hard to keep all of your guests in one place. I’ve been to weddings before where you loose people in different rooms and the party becomes somewhat disjointed – a bit like a house party where you little sub groups spring up in the kitchen, on the stairs, out in the garden etc. Elmore has the answer for this – a purpose built reception venue called The Gillyflower
The Reception Space
The Gillyflower is a building made from the land, literally. The walls are made from mud taken from the hillside in which it nestles and it has a lawn roof. This eco build is the stuff of Grand Designs and as we entered the reception space for the first time I felt a little bit like Kevin Macleod. Because the building was designed with wedding receptions in mind it is the perfect space. A long rectangular room that can be set with round or trestle tables with enough space to accommodate around 100 guests comfortably. The ace up it’s sleeve is the dance floor that is curtained off during the wedding breakfast and revealed when required. Anselm Guise, the owner of Elmore Court used to be an international DJ and the dance floor is equipped with the very best system that is perfect for disco’s and live bands. As a huge music fan this was really important to me. One of our key requirements, probably the most important thing for us is to be able to throw a great party for our guests and I am completely certain that The Gillyflower will allow us to do this.
When we met the team at Elmore Court we were blown away by how friendly and helpful they were, there was no pressure to work with any of their regular suppliers although they were on hand with suggestions and advice when we asked them about catering, accommodation and things like the running order of the day. We are going to be working with these people over the next nine months in the run up to the big day and it was really important that the vibe we got from staff was spot on. Don’t underestimate the importance of this when choosing your own venue – if you get any danger signs early on I would simply walk away. I’ve already mentioned Anselm the owner but it is also worth noting that his family have resided at Elmore court for many generations, so he has a deep vested interest in the house it’s recent conversion to become a wedding venue. We received the kind of service that is typical of a top notch family run business.
There are 8 guest bedrooms at Elmore including the bridal suite and they are currently finalising plans to expand on this, we were certain that there must be at least some on site accommodation to ensure that our elderly guests could enjoy the celebrations for as long as possible and would not have travel at the end of the night. Elmore also have a private field that can be used for glamping and local hotels are only a few miles away.
We looked at numerous other venues in The Cotswolds and generally the standard was really high – none of the other venues ticked quite so many boxes as Elmore Court but as Elmore was the first venue we visited we started to think that perhaps we’d placed it on a pedestal. We decided to revisit to check that our minds were not playing tricks on us, we ended up securing the venue during that return visit!
How To Choose A Wedding Venue – 5 Top Tips
Here are my five top tips on choosing a wedding venue, they really helped us decide which wedding venue was right for us and more importantly it helped remove some potential venues from the ‘maybe list’ before wasting important wedding planning time on a tour!
1. Location Location Location
You don’t have to get married locally but you might want to consider how easy it will be for your ‘A-list’ guests to get to your chosen wedding venue. If you have elderly guests is access going to be an issue and will they be able to stay on site? How close are the local hotels and guesthouses? Are you happy for your guests to travel between the wedding venue and reception venue or are you looking for a single location? If you have a lot of international guests you might want to consider a location that will minimise travel time for them. These are all important considerations, if you want to search for wedding venues by region check out The Love Lust List our very own UK wedding directory.
It sounds like an obvious tip but before you go and visit a venue (and potentially fall in love with it) you should consider if it falls within your budget. An idea of how many guests you are going to have will play a large factor in this also. It might be worth talking to the venue about the differing seasonal costs as prices for a Thursday wedding in November will vary wildly to a Saturday wedding in August. You should also clarify any potentially hidden costs – for example if you choose to bring in outside caterers will the venue make a charge for use of kitchen space etc.
3. Keep Control
For me a wedding venue that is overly pushy or even insistent on you using their preferred list of wedding suppliers is an instant disqualification. Make sure you ask what is included in the venue hire too – is it full service or are you going to have to source tables, chairs etc? Are there any restrictions in place? For example; how late can you party? Can you have music outside?
4. Be Annoying!
Ok, so maybe don’t be such a bridezilla / groomzilla that the venue stops answering your calls 😉 but you should ask as many questions as you can think of before signing the contract. Treat questions as a test of the venues customer service levels. Make a list and ask as much as possible during your initial contact call. Ask the questions again when you take your tour of the venue – maybe you’ll get a different answer the second time around. One of the venues I visited was due a refurbishment that may or may not have been completed in time for our chosen wedding date… That’s a pretty important thing to discover.
5. Visit Twice (at least)
It’s likely that you will visit quite a few venues before you make your decision. When you think you have found ‘the one’ go back and visit it again and again, check that it is as perfect as you remember. Elmore Court was the very first wedding venue we visited which made this tip doubly important to us. Meet as many people from the venue as you can before signing the contract. We met the co-ordinator, the person in charge of catering and even the owner of the whole place before we signed on the dotted line. If the vibe from any of these people is anything less than spot on alarm bells should ring.
Those are my tips, but I’m sure those of you who have already chosen your wedding venue will have your own words of wisdom, so please share your experiences and advice on choosing the perfect wedding venue in our comments section below.