We know there is often so much to consider, not least because the ‘perfect’ venue basically ends up shaping your whole wedding day. From the overall vibe, to which suppliers you work with, to who you’re going to be celebrating with, and for how long. Having worked with wedding venues for a number of years I’ve seen first-hand how easy it can be to get swept up in the wedding-venue-viewing-moment. But I’ve come up with these 12 top tips to help focus your priorities, get you feeling a little more organised and ultimately make sure you get the most out of your visit.
Think with your head, and your heart! Who can ignore those butterflies after all…
Do your research
Sounds simple, right? Of course you’ll do your research but there’s nothing worse than travelling across the country, possibly with your family in tow, to realise a vital detail had been missed – deeming this particular venue unsuitable. I would highly recommend making a list of your ‘must haves’, as well as other elements that you and your partner are prepared to be a little more flexible on. Have a good dig around on your venue’s website but if you can’t find the information you’re looking for, search elsewhere. Head to their sales brochure, an informative Wedding Venue Directory listing, or even Trip Advisor. Request as much information from the venue as you can beforehand so that you arrive for your viewing informed and confident but still open-minded.
Before arriving for your viewing don’t forget to write down a few of the key questions that you want answers to. These could cover what’s included in the hire price, the venue curfew and live music cut off, whether you’re allowed confetti / fireworks, and if you’re able to bring your beloved pet. These key questions are really important in helping you make an informed decision on your venue, whilst halting any disappointment later down the line. You can find a pretty comprehensive list of questions right here.
Consider inviting a friend, sibling or parents to go with you as they may ask questions that you might not have thought of. Plus a second opinion can be helpful… most of the time! If you do want to bring additional people along for the ride, let the venue know in advance but be careful not to invite too many – it could become quite overwhelming.
Check the weather
A simple tip but hopefully helpful. Always check the forecast before your visit and make sure you’re prepared for the weather. Do you need an umbrella? Boots? If you’re going to be walking in woodland, across fields or on uneven surfaces wear sensible shoes or take some wellies, just in case. You don’t want to miss seeing significant parts of a venue simply because you don’t have the appropriate gear.
Follow them on social media
Websites are a brilliant place to gather key information about your prospective wedding venue (when done well!), but don’t forget to have a nose on their social media too. This is often much more up to date than a website with many venues posting almost daily. Social media is a brilliant way to really get a feel for a place and to see areas / set ups that they might not ordinarily showcase on a website. It’s also a brilliant place to gather some inspiration from real weddings that have happened across the seasons, read couples’ testimonials, and view any offers / late availability that they may have.
It’s also a good place to spot Open Day announcements – you also keep an eye on upcoming showcases and events in our Event Diary.
Take notes AND photographs
We get it. It’s so easy to get distracted by the incredible architecture of a stately home, the stylish interior of a chic hotel, and the breath-taking scenery of a blank canvas outdoor space – but don’t forget to document your visit with notes and photographs! If you end up visiting multiple venues or get swept away in the moment you may forget certain integral details so it’s always super helpful to have images and notes, however rough, to look back on.
Request all the bumf
You’ve looked at the website 100 times, gone through the brochure with a fine-tooth comb and visited the venue in person. If you still think this could be the one, it’s time to get down to the nitty gritty.
If your venue has catering onsite request to see some sample menus, and see if they can share a drinks / wine list with you too. Discuss drinks packages, glassware and corkage. Do they have a recommended supplier list? If so, ask for their personal recommendations and why. Alternatively if you already have your heart set on certain suppliers, check how flexible the venue is and what the protocol may be. Most venues are happy to welcome external suppliers but some have stricter guidelines in place. For example, you may be able to source your own photographer but then have to choose from their list of preferred caterers. Don’t be afraid to dig into the detail!
Always consider the accessibility of a venue and how this may impact the experience of your guests. If you have any disabled or elderly people in your wedding party check out the step-free access, ramps, toilet facilities, and uneven surfaces. It’s also worth considering the distance between the various parts of the wedding – is the ceremony very far away from the drinks reception? And are there enough tables and chairs for the older folk to rest up during the day?
The Typically Boring Stuff
I mean, you don’t have to but it’s always worth checking out the loos. Firstly are they clean, tidy and monitored regularly? Also consider whether there are enough for your wedding party, if there are baby changing facilities, and as per the previous point, accessible loos for any disabled guests. Next thing, lighting. When the sun goes down, is there enough external lighting? Do you need to hire in festoons, up-lighters, lanterns etc. And finally power – if you’re planning on hosting parts of the day outside, is there sufficient power for this, and is it accessible? A bit yawnsville but they’re still really important things to consider.
Another area to get stuck into once the venue itself has won you over is the guest accommodation. If they do have accommodation on site request to see as much as possible in advance. Do they have en-suite bedrooms, holiday cottages, glamping, or a campsite available? It’s always worth viewing as much as you can yourself so that you can determine whether the venue as a whole package will work for your wedding. You will also need to find out whether you have exclusivity over the accommodation, whether you’re responsible for your guests’ bookings and if guests are able to book it themselves. To avoid utter chaos and to be able to utilise as much of the accommodation as possible, find out if it is being held for you for a certain amount of time. This means you can get organised, prioritise and allocate your nearest and dearest first and foremost. Turning your venue into your very own mini wedding village for the night / weekend / week is a pretty exciting prospect, but it’s going to take some serious planning and careful organisation!
Save the Date
Try not to get too swept up in the moment and brandish your credit card at the end of the viewing! But if you really do love a venue simply request to have your preferred date provisionally held for you. Even if just for a week or two this gives you and your partner a bit of breathing space to view that other venue you had lined up (just in case!), work out the finances, and consider any wedding logistics before securing your dream venue with an often non-refundable deposit.
All venues are different so it’s good to determine how hands-on your venue is going to be. This is often reflected in the cost. A dry hire, blank canvas venue may be more reasonably priced because although it is a dream DIY space where you have free rein, you also have to do and source pretty much everything yourselves. However, many other venues do have wedding coordinators and venue staff that can provide assistance on the run up and to, and during your time on site. Find out how much your dedicated wedding coordinator will be involved, and ask about their movements on and around the wedding day. Is there someone from the venue that can help move furniture / ceremony chairs etc? Or would it be beneficial for you to hire in additional help? It’s always good to be transparent and know what to expect from your venue because if there are costs that need factoring in, your budget could creep up quite quickly.
The local area
If the area is new to you, ask the venue about the local surroundings. Especially if you intend on staying for an extended period of time and your guests are travelling too. It might be nice to look into some things to see and do, even if it’s just a walk and a lunch after the wedding day. Also just make sure that there aren’t any major events happening during the time you’re looking to marry as this could effect accommodation availability, traffic, noise etc.
One last note regarding your wedding venue viewing, please make sure you book and confirm an actual appointment. Dropping by unannounced is unlikely to go down well. Firstly because a number of venues are still privately owned and it’s only fair to respect the owner’s privacy when they’re not expecting visitors. Secondly, venue staff won’t be fully prepared to sell you your dream venue and you possibly won’t get see the venue in full anyway, and certainly not at it’s full potential.
On the flip side, if you do book an appointment which you can no longer make, please just let the venue know.
Good luck on your wedding venue hunt, if you have any questions regarding your search or any venue-related queries, get in touch. We’re always happy to help.
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