How to Choose the Perfect Wedding Venue Style for Your Big Day

Written by Caitlin Hoare
Chances are, if you’re reading this you’re possibly about to embark on one of (if not the IMO) most exciting parts of the wedding planning process…the venue hunt!

But how the heck do you find and secure your dream wedding venue?! There are a few factors at play here that will all have a crucial part in ultimately deciding which venue you go for: budget, capacity, location, and style. I would like to think that the first three are pretty straightforward and easy(ish) to navigate…

Budget: Everything begins and ends with your wedding budget. Regardless of whether your venue budget is £5k or £50k if the numbers don’t work out then there’s no point agonising over ‘what if’, it’s best to simply jump back into the venue hunt and search for something a little more budget-friendly.

Capacity: Before you start out on your wedding venue search, I would always recommend jotting down a rough guest list. Before you panic, please be assured that this isn’t your final draft, you don’t have to invite everyone on there, it’s simply a fluid master guest list that can increase and decrease without anyone knowing! It’s also helpful to filter your guests into an A-list (parents, best mates, etc) and a B-list (family friends, colleagues). This way you know what your absolute lowest venue capacity number needs to be. Once you’ve found the one you can refine your number and if that means you can invite more guests then that’s a bit of a bonus, right? Or depending on the location, perhaps they could become evening guests instead?

Location: You may not feel comfortable asking your guests to trek miles to attend your wedding, or on the other hand maybe your dream is to get wed in a far-flung destination where everyone gets to soak up some sun and enjoy a mini holiday at the same time. Either way, there really is no right or wrong approach – but it’s always a good idea to have these key conversations with your loved ones early on. Before you know it you’ve lost hours scrolling through fairytale chateaus and unable to make any useful decisions because you’re still not sure if everyone’s on board!

Ok, now that those practical (but crucial) elements have been covered (if you need more help Katrina Otter‘s recent feature, How to Plan Your Wedding Budget, is wedding planning gold!), let’s dive into your wedding venue style. From chic city hotels to rambling country piles – how could you possibly choose? We are lucky to list some of the UK’s dreamiest wedding venues (and beyond) and we’ve even categorised them for you to make your venue hunt a totally joyful and inspiring experience. Via our Venue Finder you are able to filter your search by Venue Type (Castle, Industrial, Orangery, Woodland to name a few) OR if you’re open to the type of venue but already know your vibe inside out, why not filter by Wedding Style and see what gems pop up (Rustic Romance, Coastal Cool, The Luxe Edit etc.).

BUT, before you deep dive into a venue search (heads-up, you likely won’t come up for air for at least an hour or two!) keep scrolling for a few tips on how to overcome the initial overwhelm and find the perfect wedding venue style for you…

Keep your vision in mind at all times

There really is no point viewing that pretty but very rustic barn if your ultimate wedding goal is a super stylish, modern soiree. Sit down with your husband/wife-to-be and have an open and honest conversation about how you envisage your big day to look and feel; from the overall vibe to the smallest of details. You might come together with a couple of non-negotiables already in place – if so, now is the time to air them! You might find that once these are out in the open and you’ve started to slowly but surely weave your ideas together a particular wedding venue style might reveal itself; whether that’s a weekend-long country house retreat or an iconic town hall ceremony, complete with confetti on the steps and a laid-back pub reception.

Believe me, it can be far too easy to get swept up in the heady wedding planning fun and be swayed by all of the many many stunning venues out there but do try to focus on spaces that truly align with your vision. Hands-down these kinds of genuine, true-to-yourself weddings are always the most fun to plan AND attend, much more so than a day straight out of a Pinterest board or something so far removed from your usual taste and style. It’s your wedding day after all, so surely you want to revel in an environment where you feel happy, comfortable, and alive, not stressed or scared to touch anything!

The aesthetics

Naturally, the look and feel of a venue will have a massive impact on which one you decide to go for, plus each venue style generally comes with a particular set of features/attributes. For example, country houses often have beautifully landscaped gardens and additional space for a reception such as a ballroom or an orangery. In contrast, barn venues have a rustic, charming vibe with wooden beams galore and lofty ceilings. These are often considered a ‘blank canvas’ so they are perfect for couples looking to put their own stamp on the proceedings.

Of course, you can still find country houses with barns on site and barns with a more modern, stylish aesthetic. However, it’s essential that you’re genuinely happy with the overall look of a venue before you go ahead and book because if you need to do x-amount of work or hire/buy x-amount of stuff to make it perfect, or if the ceremony space has jazzy wallpaper or the outdoor areas are a little unkempt, it’s probably worth just letting this one go and hunting for one that better suits the overall wedding aesthetic you’re hoping to achieve.

The guest experience

Whilst venues come in a variety of shapes and sizes with different looks/styles, they can also each provide a distinct guest experience. If you’d love to treat your guests to a high-end 7-course tasting menu then you might want to consider booking a well-established hotel/restaurant with an in-house catering team. Alternatively, if you like the look and feel of a vineyard wedding, why not book your loved ones on a wine-tasting session?

Guest experiences are especially important if you have friends and family travelling far to be with you on your big day. They will likely need accommodation for a night or two which gives you a brilliant opportunity to create some pre and post-wedding meetups to extend the celebrations, such as a BBQ, cocktail party or countryside walk. Not all venues will be able to facilitate these additional events so if you are keen on making the most of your wedding festivities look for venues that offer a weekend-long hire, these might include tipi/festival-style wedding venues, dry hire barns or exclusive-use country houses.

What’s included

If you find yourself comparing venues based on price, be sure to factor in all costs as some venue styles offer an all-inclusive service, others are a completely blank canvas/dry hire allowing you to create your supplier team from scratch and decorate as you like, and some offer something in-between. Suppose you find yourself leaning towards the more bespoke, DIY wedding option such as an industrial warehouse or rural beach location. In that case, it’s always wise to get a few quotes for hire items such as furniture, glassware, linen, catering, and bar hire, before finally committing to a venue just to make sure the numbers make sense. Dry hire may seem like the more cost-effective option but once you pull everything together and factor in the extra time that you’ll need to commit to building a wedding from the ground up you might find that a different wedding venue style can offer you so much more for not necessarily more money.

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