The Complete Guide to Booking Your Wedding Venue

Written by Caitlin Hoare
You may think we’re biased but having worked in this industry for many years we consider hunting for and booking your wedding venue one of (if not the) most important task to tick off your wedding to-do list.

But before you do there are a number of things to consider. From your budget (natch) to the location, the venue’s capacity and of course the overall vibe.

Now, I’m not here to tell you which venue to book, that’s entirely up to you. If you need a little help though why not have a browse of Our Edit page – a wildcard selection which might provide you with a burst of inspiration on your venue hunt. Anyway, I digress. This article is all about what to do when you think you’ve found the one. They fit the budget tick, they’re in a beautifully picturesque location tick, it’s the perfect size for your guest number tick and you can definitely see yourself getting married there big tick. Amazing! But what does your venue actually do for you? What’s included? And what happens once you’ve signed on the dotted line? These are questions that you probably don’t know the answer to yet but might already be musing over. Well, it’s time to stop overthinking, let’s dive straight in…

Booking Your Wedding Venue

Viewing your wedding venue in person

It goes without saying that viewing your venue in person is the best way to really get a good grip on the space and understand it better. You will hopefully meet one of the wedding team or even the venue’s owner, they show you around each of the weddings areas and offer ideas, you can take a tour of the grounds, and possibly even view some of the guest accommodation. Viewing in person also gives you a good opportunity to work out the logistics, piece together the layout of the venue and talk through any parking / accessibility issues (if relevant).

Of course, this isn’t always possible. Especially if you’re planning a destination wedding or have a demanding schedule and simply don’t have the time to travel across the country at a moment’s notice. If you’ve already read every little bit of bumph, asked all the important questions via email or over the phone and can’t imagine getting married anywhere else, it might be worth asking your venue if they can provisionally hold a date for you until you’re able to view in a week / two weeks’ time.

Another option which became incredibly popular during the pandemic was the use of tech. Whilst there’s nothing like seeing it for yourself you could always video call the events team and take a Zoom tour, or take a spin around your venue’s virtual tour if they have one.

What’s included?

Venues vary wildly, so naturally they each have a different offering, but once you have the key information sussed it’s time to dig into the detail. Rural barn venues with a dry hire policy are going to operate very differently to a swanky London hotel but there are some questions covering what might be included that will be relevant across the board…

  • Do you have in-house catering? If not, can I bring in whoever I like or do I need to choose from a supplier list?
  • Can I bring in my own wine / fizz / refreshments? Do you charge corkage?
  • Will we be allocated a wedding coordinator? How much can they help with? Will they be there on the day?
  • Does the venue include tables and chairs for the ceremony and / or reception? If so, how many? Who sets them out and who tidies them away again? (If you’re concerned, always ask for a photo of the furniture just in case you decide it doesn’t fit your vibe and you’d rather hire something in)
  • If we opt for a licenced ceremony, is this included?
  • What accommodation (if any) is included in the venue hire? (Ask for more information)
  • Do you have a PA we can use for background music and the speeches?
  • Do you have a master of ceremonies? If not, do we need one? What usually happens regarding announcements etc throughout the day?
  • Is there parking available for guests / suppliers?
  • Do you have any décor items / lighting etc that we could use or hire for our wedding?

Booking a date

After viewing your venue in person and envisioning your day there, you might be super excited and chomping at the bit to put down a deposit and lock in your wedding date. But hold fire. As much as I love a romantic ‘love at first sight’ story, it might still be worth viewing another one or two of your shortlisted venues. Just to see, and to make a fair comparison.

Even if you’re still convinced it’s the one, chatting about it with your loved one on the way home is wise. You can always pay the deposit the following day but asking your venue to reserve your proposed wedding day and giving yourself a little bit of breathing (read: thinking) space, will ensure you make the right decision. Because, let’s be honest, your venue is likely to be one of the biggest expenses of your wedding, so you want to make sure you get it right.

Deposits & contracts

When you book a venue they will usually have a payment plan in place. This will vary from venue to venue but you can certainly expect to pay a deposit to secure your booking with perhaps 50% of the balance due 6 months before your wedding and the final 50% due one month before (this is an example). If your venue wants you to pay a large amount of money upfront, or even the whole hire fee, I would certainly question this.

Contracts are there to protect your venue but they must also protect you too – a good contract should work both ways. Read everything carefully, twice, and again, if anything is coming up as a red flag – question it.

What your venue can help with

Don’t assume that once you’ve booked your venue you can wave goodbye to them until your wedding day (unless this is what you want!). If your venue is established treat them as your very own wedding expert. Don’t be afraid to ask questions, no matter how silly you think they are, and request to visit as often as you need. Again, all venues are different but here are some things that your venues might be able to assist with…

  • Sourcing suppliers. If they’ve hosted a number of weddings before they will have met loads of different wedding suppliers. Ask for their little black book and start your supplier research here
  • Your wedding timeline. Don’t schedule an order of day and hope for the best. Your venue knows exactly what works best where and when so always ask their opinion before making the final arrangements
  • If your venue doesn’t have enough accommodation on site, ask for their recommendations on guest accommodation nearby
  • Wedding coordination. Some venues will include this as standard, some you might have to outsource, but always ask if they have someone within the team that can help on the day
  • Your venue might have lighting, draping, furniture or a cake stand that you can use or hire for your wedding. It’s certainly worth finding out what’s available before deep diving into wedding hire online
  • If you have furniture that needs moving during the wedding, or a fire pit that needs lighting, ask if there is a caretaker or venue staff available that can help with these simple but super important details
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