Mistakes Couples Make When Choosing a Wedding Venue

Written by Caitlin Hoare
We all make mistakes from time to time; that’s just part of being human. Life would be a little dull if everything were just so, right? But when it comes to choosing a wedding venue and planning your big day, it’s natural to want to try and mitigate as many mistakes as possible.

For most engaged couples, it’s your first time planning such a high-stakes (high-spend) event, so understandably, you might make a couple of clangers along the way. And whilst some you may have no control over (not to panic you, but sometimes mistakes do happen!), some you absolutely will, such as selecting your wedding venue.

Finding the perfect wedding venue isn’t always an easy task. But fear not! To avoid heading into the wedding venue hunting process completely uninformed, follow our simple tips and helpful insights on avoiding making careless mistakes that you might regret a little later down the line.

Mistakes to Avoid

Not discussing the budget first

Ahh, the B-word! The most integral part of planning a wedding, yet potentially the least discussed?! I cannot emphasise enough the importance of being open and honest with your partner about your wedding budget. Once you’ve worked out your collective and projected savings, it’s time to create a spreadsheet, allocate your budget (roughly) and make a plan of action.

It’s all well and good starting on the right foot, but this is an essential document that needs managing closely. You can expect it to evolve and fluctuate over time, so keep checking back and tweaking to stay on track. Our fabulous Resident Wedding Planner, Katrina Otter Weddings, crafted a fantastic feature to help with this exact topic: How to Plan Your Wedding Budget.

Rushing the decision or taking too long

There’s no right or wrong way to find and secure a wedding venue, but I would suggest starting with an online search (dive into our Venue Finder for all the venue inspo you should want and need!), shortlist a few and then check out their online reviews and social media accounts. If you like what you see, get in touch, request some brochures, and then narrow it down to approx. three to visit in person.

You might know they’re the one as soon as you arrive in person, or maybe there’s something just not quite right. Whilst I wouldn’t want you to settle on something that clearly isn’t suited to your style or plans, I equally wouldn’t recommend whipping out your credit card to pay the security deposit there and then (as exciting and romantic as that sounds!). I would urge you to simply take a short breather after each visit and carefully consider all options. But if you find yourself arriving at venue #10 and still feeling unsatisfied, then perhaps it’s time to consider whether that unicorn wedding venue really exists…

Focusing on price rather than value

Most of us are naturally driven by price, but when it comes to sealing the deal on your dream wedding venue, this has to be weighed against value for money. You may find that one initial quote is considerably cheaper than another; if this is the case, spend some time digging into why that might be and examine precisely what is included. If you have to hire additional furniture, enlist an on-the-day wedding coordinator and book up all the holiday accommodation in the local area, then you might find yourself over budget quickly. Suddenly, that venue with the bigger quote looks pretty great in value!

Not being flexible on dates

If you come to venue hunting with an exact date in mind, chances are, you will end up disappointed. Popular suppliers (including venues) get booked up to two years in advance, so approach the venue search with an open mind, and you’ll soon land on an attractive prospect (or two!).

Not creating a guest list first

Trust me, crafting a guest list is just as integral as working out an initial budget. Whilst it’s true that during the 12-ish months of planning, some people may drop out, and others may be invited, but if you don’t create a rough guest list during the early stages, how on earth are you supposed to know what size/style of venue to look for?

If it turns out your guest numbers are 120, but you’ve had your eye on a charming country house for 80, then something’s got to give. Equally, if you love the idea of an industrial-style warehouse wedding, but your guest list totals a comfortable 50, your wedding party may feel a little lost in such a large cavernous space.

I’m not saying you must stick to this list and invite everyone as soon as you commit their names to paper/screen; much like your budget, this can be an organic, evolving list, but you need to start somewhere!

Spending too much/too little

We’re heading back to the B-word, folks! Only you know how much money you’re genuinely comfortable spending on your wedding celebrations, whether an intimate ceremony and dinner for 30 guests or three days of festivities abroad. But it all comes down to research, priorities and value for money.

Whilst I would absolutely not encourage couples to get into debt to execute their dream wedding day, I also wouldn’t suggest hiring the cheapest photographer you can find or, heaven forbid, not having a photographer at all! Your venue sets the tone for the entirety of your wedding, so finding a balance when it comes to the financials is essential.

Wrong style of venue for your personalities/interests/style

This is where those open and honest early conversations come into their own. What do you want most out of your wedding venue? What about your partner? What are your red flags? What gives you the ick? (Patterned carpet is mine!). At the beginning of the process, while you have the time, consider all the options available, but make sure you’re clear on your non-negotiables and what you really want from your venue before you visit any in person. This will ensure you stay on track and will hopefully mean you won’t get completely swept up in the wedding venue sales journey!

Not viewing or meeting the team BEFORE booking

The events team are one of the most important elements when deciding on a wedding venue. Yes, it might have an enchanting garden and a dreamy getting-ready suite, but if you don’t gel with your wedding manager/coordinator, this can taint the whole experience.

I’d always recommend viewing a venue in person before paying or signing anything, but if you can’t meet the necessary team members on the day, schedule a phone/Zoom call afterwards to ensure you’re all on the same page. After all, they’re responsible for delivering your dream day, so it’s essential that you feel confident and comfortable in their presence and capabilities.

Understanding the planning VS coordination difference

Considering you probably haven’t planned a wedding before or know much about weddings (other than attending a handful), it’s okay to feel like a novice. But one of the most important things to understand is the difference between full wedding planning and coordination and finding out how hands-on your prospective wedding venue will be.

Some offer a full wedding planning service, working with you from start to finish, and some literally accept your booking and then hand over the key before the big day. The majority of venues sit somewhere in the middle and have wonderful events teams who are there to guide you through the wedding planning process and then be there to coordinate the day itself.

If you need a little more help, you might need to enlist an independent wedding planner to work alongside you.

Not looking at on-site accommodation / local transport

Whilst a venue may dazzle you with its stylish interiors and super friendly staff, don’t forget to consider the slightly more boring (but equally important) logistics involved! Where will you get ready if your venue has no accommodation on-site? Where will everyone sleep? And if your ceremony setting is located 20 minutes from the reception, how will everyone move between the two?

If you’re having a super local wedding, perhaps these elements aren’t relevant, but if you’re asking your guests to travel far to join you for your special day, make sure you’ve considered them in your decision-making.

Ensuring all guests can be accommodated

In the same vein as the previous mistake to avoid, if you have guests with limited mobility or accessibility needs, then please do keep this in mind when viewing potential wedding venues. Rambling, historic houses and castles are incredibly special and very charming buildings, but they aren’t always the easiest to traverse on wheels or with a stick/crutches.

Make sure the venue has indoor/outdoor options

It might sound super simple, but it’s unlikely that you’ll be viewing and booking your wedding venue on the same date/month that you’ll eventually be getting married, so with that in mind, remember to ask questions regarding seasonality and find out as much as your can about wet/heat wave weather options. You could even enquire about what past couples have previously done – this is a great way to gather ideas and inspiration directly from your venue and might help to inform your choices in the future.

Dry hire

Dry hire is a term used to describe the hire of an empty venue space… and that’s it! So, whilst this might sound like a fun/affordable way to build your dream wedding celebration from scratch, it’s worth spending some time doing proper research before jumping in unquestioningly. Believe me when I say it often doesn’t work out cheaper, and planning your whole wedding from the ground up (literally) isn’t for the fainthearted.

If you’re still on the fence and would like to learn more about working with a dry-hire venue, this blog feature, Five Mistakes to Avoid When Planning a Dry Hire Barn Wedding, courtesy of The Wedding Day Coordinators, is a great place to start.

Ghosting venues when enquiring

We get it; you’re busy, and we pretty much all are these days, but being ghosted is never a pleasant experience, whether via a dating site or in business. Venue teams put a huge amount of time, effort and passion into crafting brochures and honing the enquiry process, so if you feel like you’ve seen enough and it’s still not the one for you, please just let the venue know. They genuinely don’t want to spam you, and I know you don’t want to be spammed either, so all it takes is a polite email thanking them for their time and simply letting them know that you’ve decided to proceed elsewhere.

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