What kind of wedding do you want?
I get it, this is a pretty epic question to face at the start of your wedding planning, but it’s one that’s so worth answering with a bit of digging into who you are as a couple and what’s important to you about your wedding day. So, before you rush into booking your venue, ask yourselves:
Do you see yourselves having a casual or formal day, an intimate affair or lavish celebration?
And what vibe do you both want? Are you more of a city chic or classically elegant kind of couple?
If you’re struggling to pinpoint the type of wedding you want then try getting some inspiration – hit the web, pick up some bridal and fashion magazines, and take a peek at the eight style categories on Coco Wedding Venues to see which venue vibes you’re feeling! You could also look at your home as a style indicator – venues with a similar aesthetic are likely to feel more you.
Getting clear on your overall vision at this early stage will ensure that your wedding is a personal reflection of you as a couple, and ultimately make your decision-making process easier in the long run. Hell yeah to that!
Work out numbers
A simple way to whittle down your options is to start by drawing up a rough guest list and getting an idea of numbers – capacity can suddenly start to rule out certain venues.
If you’re looking for an intimate ceremony for ten people you don’t want to rattle around in a hall fit for 100. Similarly, if you have your heart set on a big, lavish wedding, you can safely rule out venues that can’t accommodate your guest list.
Draw up a budget
Most of your plans will take their lead from your wedding venue, but before you can commit to booking somewhere, you need to know how much you can realistically spend.
Start by making a list of your incomings and outgoings and work out how much you can (and want to) save. If anyone has offered to contribute to your wedding, now is the time to nail down the details! Calculate your total projected savings plus any gifts from family, and you have your big day budget.
Deciding how much of your budget to allocate to your venue is another dilemma, and will depend on a lot of other factors, so you’ll need to start prioritising early. This will mean sitting down as a couple and making some tough calls – which aspects of your wedding are most important? The food, the location, the venue, the music, the décor, the details… What’s essential and what’s just nice to have?
List your venue requirements
With lots of practical considerations, finding the perfect wedding venue is just as much about ticking logistical boxes as it is falling in love with the vibe. So, before you start to shortlist, ask yourselves these questions to narrow your focus and make the whole process easier!
(And once you’re ready to start viewing, check out our run down of the essential questions to ask your venue and top tips to help you get the most out of your venue search.)
- Where geographically would you like to have your wedding? If you have your location narrowed down – for example, you’d like a wedding venue in the South East of England – then you can safely rule out anything further afield.
- What date would you like to get married on? If you have a special date in mind you may need to be flexible on the venue, or the time you’re willing to wait to get married! Venues do book up for popular dates early and the average engagement is 14 – 18 months.
- Think about the seasons – do you love the golden light of autumn or long summer days? High season months (July and August) will come at a premium, so certainly something to consider along with the style of wedding.
- What day of the week would you like to get married on? Some venues only host weddings once a week or on certain days.
- What time do you want your wedding to start and end? If you’re dreaming of partying until dawn, your venue will need a late licence. It’s also worth checking the flexibility on this, as some venues can extend their licence with prior consent!
- How do you want to say I do? If you’d like a religious ceremony you’ll need to book your ceremony and reception venues separately. If you’d like your ceremony and reception in one place, you need to check if your venue has a civil ceremony license – and where you can and can’t say your vows, as only specific rooms will be licensed.
- Are you happy to use in-house or preferred suppliers, or do you want the freedom to bring in your own? Some venues have specific suppliers they ask you to choose from, ranging from caterers to florists and entertainment! So, it’s important you’re happy with the options on offer and that they fit within your budget.
- Do you want to bring your own alcohol? Check to see if the venue bar is in-house, external, or whether they charge corkage (a fee charged for opening and serving your own alcohol).
- Do you want a blank canvas venue or one that comes pre-styled? And are you happy to plan, set up and style your wedding by yourself or are you hoping for help from the venue staff? While some venues are fully staffed, others are venue hire only, which means you’ll need to make all of your own arrangements and have people on site to set up on the day.
- Do you need affordable accommodation onsite or nearby? If the venue can’t accommodate everyone on site, they will certainly be able to recommend local options for your guests, so take notes when you visit! Check out the local area for things to do and see, your guests may want to make a weekend of it!
- Do you want a marquee or tipi? Some venues have capacity for marquees or tipis and work with preferred suppliers, and some even have permanent tents erected throughout the summer months. If you have your heart set on a marquee or tipi wedding then make sure it’s a) an option and b) the style of tent you want. From traditional pole style tents, through to yurts and tipis – there are lots of options. Check out the tent suppliers and marquee venues on Coco for ideas!
Phew! That’s a lot to think about, I know, so I feel like now is a good time to give you a gentle reminder that planning your wedding should be a fun and enjoyable experience! If you feel yourself getting overwhelmed by it all, just take a moment to look at the big picture and break everything down into manageable chunks. And take yourselves off for a date night once in a while so you get a break from talking about the wedding!