27 Jul How to Choose a Wedding Venue
How to Choose Your Wedding Venue
With Megan Hutchison of She Said Yes
When brides-to-be and newlyweds talk about how much they love wedding planning, chances are they aren’t talking about starting their wedding budget or tackling their guest list – the two subjects (dare I say ‘issues’) we’ve dealt with so far.
However, choosing your wedding venue is actually pretty exciting. It’s the first step of wedding planning where you really get to think creatively and can begin to envisage the style and theme of your wedding, or imagine where you’ll be walking down the aisle and making your vows, not to mention taking your first sip of champagne and getting those all-important photos.
I’ve previously written quite a long and detailed guide to choosing your wedding venue, so for you, I’ll do so more succinctly.
Before you visit any potential wedding venues
If you’ve ever watched Say Yes to The Dress, you’ll know that the absolute worst thing a bride can do is to try on a wedding dress which is way out of her budget. The same applies when it comes to choosing your wedding venue. If you visit and fall in love with a venue which is way out of your wedding budget, you are setting yourself up for failure and/or disappointment.
I suggest that in advance of actually visiting any venues, you email them to enquire about package and pricing options. Set out an email with any preferred dates or at least the month and days of the week, and the approximate number of guests you intend to have, and then only make an appointment to view if you can afford it. This also avoids potential disappointment in visiting the venue only to find that your date is already booked.
When you visit the wedding venue
Keep in mind your priorities. If you have not prioritised a large spend on décor and flowers, but the space is very bare and will require a lot of decorating, you may have to reallocate your budget to achieve the look you want.
Think about wet weather options – if the only reason you love a venue is for its stunning garden ceremony space, or its outdoor photo opportunities, consider how you will feel if the heavens open and your picture-perfect panorama becomes a wet and muddy trench.
If you are having a large wedding, how does the space work in terms of visibility and audibility – both for the ceremony vows/readings and the reception speeches
Should you use a DIY/Dry-Hire or BYO venue?
I understand, it can be so tempting to see the potential savings by having a BYO venue and saving on the alcohol for your wedding. Unfortunately, it just isn’t quite that simple. I should know – we had a completely DIY venue, which meant we did get to BYO wine and spirits. Here’s what it also meant:
+ We had to hire every single item of crockery, cutlery and glassware, at great expense
+ We had to estimate how much beer, wine and spirits to buy, knowing that if we underestimated and ran out, the wedding would feel like a complete disaster, with the closest supermarket being over half an hour’s drive from the wedding venue
+ We had to transport, and then refrigerate (in a hired refrigerator) cases and cases of wine and beer, and keep them cool on one of the hottest days in February
As our venue did not have a bar, or bar-tender, we had to instead put all the bottles on a large table for guests to help themselves from. While they loved this – and there was plenty to go around, when we tidied up (yes, you have to do that at a dry-hire venue!) the next day, we realised that 80% of the bottles had been opened but 60% of the bottles were half full, so we wasted a lot of really good wine!
Before you book your venue
I strongly suggest you download the wedding venue selection, designed to cut out all the guess-work in booking your wedding venue, but if you don’t want to spend $10 (or buy the little white book + planning pack bundle for $99), please at least take the time to truly think about whether the venue fits all your requirements, and you give some serious attention to the contract and what it includes and excludes.
Once you’ve booked your venue
Once you’ve booked your wedding venue, you can begin to organise everything else, including an on-the-day plan. As you organise each of the next elements of your wedding, keep coming back to what will suit and fit the venue. I suggest working with a floor plan of the area, so that you can see how much room things will take up, i.e. a DJ booth, dessert table or selfie station will each need a couple of metres of space.
Think about transport and parking, both between the ceremony and reception venues (if applicable) and how your guests will get home afterwards. Put this on your wedding invitation info card.
Keep in regular contact with your wedding venue. They may even be able to suggest or book preferred suppliers for you, and many will continue communication with those vendors once you have booked them in too.
If this helped you, head to the She Said Yes wedding planning page for an index of content, and if you haven’t already seen our wedding organiser and diary, take a little look at the little white book.