The venue is the first thing you need to look for when you start planning your big day. This is where the celebration of your union will take place and it is important that you choose a venue that is perfect for you in all aspects.
Have a look at our Questions to Ask venues.
Firstly, make sure the venue has the look and feel that suits your style - be it a rustic barn or a hotel ballroom. This is important because if the venue offers the right landscape and architecture it will be a lot easier to obtain the ultimate goal you want. Try as you may, if your heart is set on that elegant black-tie wedding it will be difficult to pull off in an old-style country hous. A good way to gauge if the venue is right for you is to focus on the venue as a whole - look at everything from the restrooms, foyer, kitchen, dressing rooms, outdoor lighting and garden to the existing décor. This will give you a good idea of whether you can pull of your vision with the venue or not.
Another aspect to consider when looking at the venue is your guests; if you want to have a large wedding with 200 guests you need to confirm if the venue can comfortably accommodate all of them, or if your friends and family are the type who love dancing getting a venue with a small dance floor might not be the most sensible choice. Also consider how well they are equipped for the handicapped, perhaps your brother is in a wheelchair or you want to invite your 85-year-old grandmother who is not that stable on her feet anymore. In this case a venue with plenty of stairs, for example, will not be a practical choice, you don’t want to have to run around all night helping your guests get around - or worse have your other guests do it.
Facilities & Services
Most venues will have a chapel and reception hall for the ceremony and reception respectively but not all of them can offer a honeymoon suite and/or guest accommodation; and although this is not a deal-breaker, having these facilities in one place can make things much easier. There will be other guest houses in the area where guests can book, but it will be a lot more convenient for them if the venue offered accommodation. With the honeymoon suite on site it takes away the extra stress of the bride having to get ready elsewhere and then travel to the chapel. She can calmly spend the morning with her bridal team and when the time is ready simply walk out the door to the chapel. It also means that the bride and groom have a place close by to relax after the hustle and bustle of the day and spend their first married night together without having to worry about driving.
One of the biggest things at a wedding is the food, and most venues do offer internal catering (although some do allow for external caterers). The important thing here is to find out if a tasting is possible and also how flexible they are in regard to their menu options. You may have guests with special dietary needs or have a specific dish you would like to include, or maybe you want to replace the desserts with a chocolate fountain. In any case you need to confirm if they will be able to accommodate your needs.
You also need to confirm what extras the venue supplies. Some venues will offer you the basic décor only (tables, chairs, cutlery, crockery and linen), while others can offer you the whole shebang from centrepieces to fairy lights. Many venues also include certain suppliers like the DJ and often they have a list of recommended suppliers - it is always a good idea to have a look at that list (of the venue you have chosen) because all the suppliers will be familiar with the quirks and challenges of the venue, which can make your planning process a bit easier.
The person you are talking to while looking at the venue will most likely be the person you will be dealing with should you decide on that venue. It is very important that you get along with this person because you are going to communicate with him/her on a regular basis regarding the menu, décor, day of planning, etc. It is also very likely that he/she will be present on the wedding day to help coordinate and make sure everything runs smoothly, so you will want someone that you not only get along with but that you can trust. If you do not feel comfortable with this person but you love the venue don’t be shy to ask it there is someone else that you can rather work with, he/she is a professional and should understand and respect your request.
The venue can easily take up to 40% of your budget (if not more), but as mentioned earlier it can include extras like the décor, catering as well as certain suppliers. So, when looking at venues make sure to take note of what services and extras are included in their cost. Ask them to give you a breakdown of how their costs work, including extras like overtime, breakage and bar costs.