Choosing a wedding venue is one of the hardest parts of wedding planning. There are so many different things to consider. From the location to the capacity, from the amenities to the flexibility, there are decisions that need to suit both you and your guests. In order to help, we've come up with a handy two-stage guide; a selection of questions to ask yourselves and our top ten questions for your shortlist of venues. This process can take some time and is a large part of your wedding budget. It's therefore definitely something to consider carefully. So grab a cuppa, get comfy, and let's chat venues!
The all-encompassing guide to choosing your wedding venue - 10 important questions
Stage One: What Do You Need From Your Wedding Venue?
Decide on a budget and have a rough guest count before you start looking. Having a parameter of lowest to highest budget will certainly help. As will having a few guests that you can remove if push comes to shove. For more advice on this matter, we've got an article on how to select your guest list to help you out. This then in turn gives you a bit of wriggle room if you stumble across something you really love that may be slightly over budget. Some stellar advice: never forget to discuss location. Is getting married in a certain part of the world essential to you? Then you'll need to narrow your wedding venue search, and perhaps consider having your ceremony and reception at different venues.
Have a priority list that matches both of your needs. Is accommodation on site really important to you? Exclusivity for a certain time period? Being able to use a certain caterer, bringing in your own wine, burning candles, late bar? If there's anything that you can't imagine your day without, then make sure it's on the list. As well as things that you're not willing to compromise on, make sure you have some that you're happy to forego if required. Finding the right wedding venue for you is perfectly achievable, but only if you're open-minded.
Stage Two: Our Top Ten Questions To Ask Your Wedding Venue
Once you're both on the same page and have an idea of your budget, guest numbers and location, you can start your search. Here at Rock My Wedding, we have an abundance of gorgeous real weddings in real(ly) wonderful locations to start off the inspiration. This allows you to see inside potential venues. We also have a list of Recommended venues! Here, you can browse the UK's very best wedding venues and filter them using the criteria you've narrowed down already. Barn venues? We've got them. Unusual venues? We have those too. Plus, a whole lot more to boot!
We're not done yet. We've helped thousands of couples find their perfect wedding venue. So we thought we'd compile a list for you. Without further ado, these are the top ten questions we think you need to ask.
1) What is your capacity for wedding receptions? And how many people can stay on-site?
The most important thing is that everyone can fit. Ceremonies can get away with people standing, but definitely not receptions unless you're having a very informal dining arrangement. Being able to accommodate guests on-site can make a wedding truly special. If it's important to you, chat with your wedding venue about room setups. If it's not important to you, then make sure to ask your venue about local hotels and B&Bs for those guests coming from further afield.
2) Can we hold our legal ceremony here?
Unsurprisingly, the actual getting-married-legally part is fairly crucial. If you can't get married legally onsite, then you'll need to get married legally before or after your celebrations at your local registry office or church.
3) Are you an exclusive-use venue? How long do we have the venue for?
Having the whole wedding venue exclusively can be pretty important to some. Apart from some hotels, which offer rooftops or parts of the building exclusively, most of our Recommended venues are for exclusive use. Finding out what times you'll have the venue from and 'til (including the guest rooms and shared spaces) is really important. No one wants to be kicked out of their room because it's check-out time, with hours to go until the ceremony. Making sure you have enough time to set up and tidy away the following day is also hugely important too.
4) What exactly is included in the price of hiring the venue?
It's imperative to make sure you know exactly what you're paying for. Some venues will have additional services you can add on, such as their choice of caters, styling or coordination. Ask lots of questions and read your contract carefully before you sign, so everything is crystal clear.
5) Is there a preferred supplier list and are we allowed to choose different people?
This can vary from venue to venue. Some are happy to work with any suppliers you chose (florists, caterers, wedding planners etc), but some specify who you can work with. Make sure you know any details of preferred supplier relationships and whether these are flexible or obligational. You don't want to have to forgo your dream photographer for the sake of your venue. And vice versa.
6) Are there any noise restrictions?
If you're planning a big party, this is an essential question. Some venues have noise restrictions, and this can be time or decibel-level dependent. If you want to crank the tunes late into the night (and we can hardly blame you!), don't forget to ask about a late licence.
7) Who is responsible for taking down the wedding and getting rid of the rubbish?
Cleaning up after a party with a hangover is always horrendous, let alone after the biggest party of your life. If you don't want to deal with this, choose a wedding venue that has a wedding coordination team who looks after this, and double-check that they are happy to dispose of the waste too.
8) Is there a bar onsite? If not, do you charge corkage?
Having a bar onsite can make things SO much easier. Equally, however, being able to bring in your own booze allows for more personal choice and potential cost savings. Remember to check whether you can pay for an open bar up front, or if the alcohol is paid for by guests (or perhaps a mix of the two). If you're bringing your own, find out what the corkage fees are and how to dispose of the empties and clean glasses.
9) Are we allowed to burn candles on site?
I know, I know, a niche question perhaps, but candlelight makes such a difference to the ambience of your big day. Not only that, lots of venues won't allow candles due to health and safety concerns. Naturally, many older buildings have bans on candles, so be sure to check, especially if this is really important to you.
10) Does the quote include VAT?
When the fee is already quite hefty, VAT can be a nasty shock. Make sure you check whether or not your wedding venue charges VAT. If they do, ask whether it's included in the fee you've been shown.
Deciding on your wedding venues can be tricky - hopefully, it's now a little bit easier!
Now that you have a better idea of what you want and what you should ask, you need to actually pick your venue. Luckily enough, we can help out in that department. If you're in the market for something more on the quirky side, our article on unusual wedding venues is a great place to start looking. If you're more of a fan of barn venues, then we've also got a great roundup of those. Finally, we have plenty more questions where this came from! Take a look at our questions to ask your wedding venue! Good luck with finding your venue...let the wedding planning commence!