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Ultimate guide to choosing your wedding venue

If you have recently become engaged , then I’m sure top of your wedding planning list is choosing your wedding venue. Before you can make any of the detailed decisions about your wedding, you need to know where your wedding ceremony and reception will be. So how can you find that perfect wedding venue.

First step

  • Think about where you would like the wedding, is it an area you were bought up or somewhere that has a special meaning to you?
  • Think about your guests and how they will get to the venue. Does it need to have good access routes and perhaps accommodation on site or nearby?
  • What type of wedding venue do you desire? In some ways this will depend on the “where”, not many rustic barns in central London for example! But think about your preference for venue style (hotel, stately home, barn, marquee/pavilion, restaurant)
  • Do you wish to hold both the ceremony and reception at the same venue?
  • This is the time to also think of the basic guest list so you don’t waste time visiting venues too small or large for your needs.
  • What is your budget? A venue will take approx. 45% of your budget (hire fee, food & drink). You don’t want to be a situation where you have chosen a venue that is expensive meaning you have limited funds remaining for everything else.

Where can you research venues

  • Personal recommendation is high up on our list, speak to family and friends in the area for personal recommendations of venues they have visited in the past.
  • Ask suppliers if you’ve hired any already for any recommendations
  • Look at our venue directory
  • If you wish to have a civil ceremony then get a list from the local authority of which venues in the area are licensed.
  • Organisations like English Heritage and National Trust hire out some of their properties for weddings, do check when you’d have access as invariably they are open to the public prior to your wedding.
  • And if you’ve hired a wedding planner then sit back and relax as they’re do all the research for you and will know some gems of venues to try.

The Elvetham

What questions do you need to ask?

  • Are they available? And if not what dates are available, best get this out of the way before discussing any further!
  • Can the venue accommodate the number of anticipated guests comfortably? You want to have enough room around the tables for staff to serve proficiently.
  • Do they offer any discounts for out of season or mid-week bookings?
  • Is catering in-house or can you bring caterers in? If in-house ask to see the menus and wine list as the cost of this can account for about 45% of your wedding budget.
  • Ask about on site accommodation for you and your guests, much easier being able to stumble back to your room after a hard days partying. Ideally there should also be a variety of accommodation near by within a range of budgets.
  • Will the venue co-ordinator work on your wedding day? Ask whether they take on all table decorating on the day or whether you need to delegate to someone else. Will they reconfirm all suppliers for you or is this something you need to do?
  • Are there any restrictions you need to be aware of? Time music must finish, no candles, no amplified music, no dancing in the house. Many venues now have sound meters which could impact on the music you wanted to have at your wedding.
  • What is their contingency plan if the weather is bad? Umbrellas for guests? Suitable indoor area for the drink reception? Is the carpark suitable (i.e not a field)
  • Is there a minimum number of guests you must cater for? For example your guest list might be 80 but you must cater for 100 daytime and 120 evening guests, meaning you are paying for guests that are not actually there. Is this something your budget can accommodate?

What advice do our members have?

What will the grounds look like at the time of year you plan to have your wedding? Ask to see photos from a similar season Mary from Weddings by Mary

Our London ambassador and Elite Member Andri from Always Andri has these tips. There are so many amazing venues out there but don’t feel you have to be restricted to the usual suspects, from restaurants and pubs to art galleries and warehouses there really are so many options that you can find a venue that suits both your personalities and make the perfect backdrop to celebrate your love. Don’t assume that if a venue is not licensed you can’t have your wedding there – if you use an independent celebrant they can conduct a symbolic ceremony for you, all you have to do is get legally married at a registry office much how it is done in Europe.

Michelle of Elegante by Michelle J has this advice if organising a Jewish Wedding. When you are talking to a venue about room capacities,  do make sure that they understand you need to know  the capacity including a stage and dance floor.  Most venues will quote total capacities, based on filling the room with tables and chairs and this can be misleading as for Jewish weddings we will generally want to dance before and during as well as after dinner. And if you are planning on using a kosher caterer,  make sure that the venue offers a “dry hire” arrangement enabling you to bring in your own caterer who will handle everything including the drinks


Hayley of Hayley Jayne Weddings & Events says it is becoming increasingly common for wedding venues to either request that children do not attend your wedding, or that the number of children attending are kept below a figure suggested by the venue.  Whilst some couples may welcome the fact that they can use this as an excuse not to extend the invitation to include children, other couples who are looking to host a family friendly celebration may find that this restriction forces them to discount a venue immediately.

Hayley of Hayley Jayne Weddings & Events says don’t forget about disabled access, most venues will be able to offer disabled access, often providing ramps and disabled washroom facilities on the ground floor. However, you should also check whether or not they offer disabled access to every part of the venue.  It is important to remember that sometimes you have to revert to plan B on your wedding day.  If this means bringing your outdoor ceremony inside can disabled guests access the part of the venue where the ceremony would be held.

What to ask on a show round (venue member {10-11} Carlton Terrace gave this advice)

  • Where are the best photography spots in your venue?
  • Will you be hosting more than 1 wedding at a time?
  • What time do we get access to the venue for our suppliers to set up?
  • Do you allow real candles?
  • What support does the venue coordinator provide? Is this enough or will you require the services of an independent wedding planner
  • Are there any restrictions on what suppliers you can use
  • Don’t be afraid to ask the venue if you can walk the spaces again by yourself. At {10-11} Carlton House Terrace, we try to do this where possible so that our couples can begin to feel at home in our venue and have a relaxed look at the rooms without feeling under supervision from a venue coordinator!

Jennifer Hall of Weddings Elements also advises you ask what the maximum capacity in a room is. If you’re close to the maximum, consider looking for a bigger venue. Venues tend to pack as many people in, but no one wants their guests to be squashed and uncomfortable! 

Photo Credits

Ashridge House photo by – Modern Vintage Photography

10:11 Carlton Terrace photo by – ARJ Photography

Elvetham Photo by Rivendell Studio

Pavillion set for Jewish Wedding organised by Elegante by Michelle J and photographed by Claudine Hartzel

Plas Dinas photo by Jake Morley Photography 

Feature image is of {10-11} Carlton Terrace photo by Fiona Kelly


Member Thanks

With thanks to the following members for their input:

Elegante by Michelle J

Wedding Elements

Hayley Jayne Wedding & Events

Weddings by Mary

{10-11} Carlton Terrace

Always Andri

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