How To Choose Your Wedding Venue

Choosing the right wedding venue for your big day is often one of the hardest decisions to make when it comes to planning your wedding.  There are so many things to think about – from basics such as the size & type of the venue, through to its location and whether it’s offered as a dry hire venue meaning you need to arrange your own suppliers for catering, service staff and potentially even toilets – or fully serviced with a team to look after and help plan your day. 

Here are a few suggests for things to think about when trying to choose the perfect wedding venue for your big day.

Location

First and foremost, you need to think about where you want your wedding to take place. Do you want a venue that’s local to you, or are you happy to travel for the perfect setting? If you’re having a destination wedding, you’ll need to factor in travel costs and accommodation for your guests.

Style

Next, you need to think about the style of wedding you want for your dream day. Are you hoping to hold a traditional church wedding or do you want to make your day truely your own with celebrant (or registrar) led celebrations hosted in your choice of nearly anywhere from beautiful rustic barns through to tipis or elegant city venues?

Size

Think about how many guests you’re hoping to invite and the size of venue you’ll need to accommodate them. If you’re planning on a more intimate gathering, don’t forget to factor in the cost of hiring a smaller venue – it might be more cost effective than squeezing everyone into a large space.

Layout 

When viewing potential venues, it’s important to think about the layout and how it will work for your wedding. If you have a large guest list, you’ll need a space that can accommodate them all comfortably. If you’re having a more intimate wedding, a smaller venue might be more suitable. You should also take into account whether you want an indoor or outdoor space, and how much access you’ll need to the surrounding area for photographs etc.

Photo Opportunities

Ok, so this is maybe not top of your list but when looking at potential wedding venues, if photography is important to you it is often worth looking at examples of previous weddings held there. This might help to give you an idea of what’s possible at a venue – and if there are particular photo ideas you have in mind it may help when shortlisting possible wedding venues for visits. 

Budget

Now it’s time to think about your budget. Venue hire can be one of the biggest costs of your wedding, so it’s important to set a budget and stick to it. There are plenty of great venues out there to choose from, no matter what your budget is. Don’t forget to include any extras when pricing up your day – or to look for costs you’re required to take such as accomodation, service charges or catering etc. 

Catering

Most venues will provide catering for your wedding day, but it’s worth checking this before you book. If you’re looking for a specific type of cuisine or want to cater for a specific dietary requirement, you’ll need to check that the venue can accommodate this. It’s also worth asking your venue if they offer opportunities to attend Menu Tasting events or similar to experience the full range of their menues to help choose your perfect selection. 

In-House Suppliers

When discussing your plans, ask your venue’s planner or coordiator about any in-house suppliers they might require you to use. Certain venues require you to select from suppliers that have worked with the venue before, or to only use their in-house florist etc. Although this might be fine for your day, it’s worth knowing all the facts early on in the planning process; especially if you have your heart set on particular suppliers or a particular style. 

Dry Hire vs Wet Hire (Serviced)

When booking your wedding venue, it’s important to check what services are included. Is catering included? How about tables, chairs and linen? What about parking? If you’re hiring a venue that’s not fully serviced, you’ll need to factor in the cost of hiring these services in too.

Planning

Something to keep in mind is the planning process. It’s pragmatic to have a think about how much help you’re going to need in planning your wedding day. Some couples opt to take on doing everything by themselves, others prefer to have someone else handle that for them. There’s no right answer to this one other than to be honest with yourself in terms of your appetite for planning vs time you have available to commit to it – and see what’s right for you.   There is of course always the option of hiring a professional Wedding Planner to help you with this. The best planners around will be able to handle creating the wedding of your dreams more or less anywhere, including helping with finding suppliers to meet your every need. 

Many wedding venues include the services of their wedding planning team in their packages – perhaps not going as far as a dedicated Wedding Planner is able to do so, but they’ll often help with coordinating the perfect day along with suggesting suppliers that may have worked at their venue before and can help with timings. 

Finally though… Feelings!

Once you’ve whittled down the shortlist of your perfect wedding venues, go visit them! If visits are not possible, try to arrange a virtual tour around with one of their team. It’s so incredibly important to ensure that the venue feels right to you and you can picture yourself hosting your perfect wedding there. If you can’t picture youself getting married there, or if something doesn’t feel right – go look at another venue. 

Trust that gut instinct – first impressions are normally right and anything that doesn’t feel like you want it to, probably won’t match up with your wishes or expectations when it comes to details. 

As you’ll often be talking to other suppliers at the same point, ask them for their opinions or whether they’ve worked at a particular venue before. Photographers and videographers in particular have often worked at many popular venues and may have some insights to help with your decision making process – or be able to show you examples of previous weddings they’ve covered there!

Good luck – this is often THE hardest bit of the entire process, other than those pesky speeches! 

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About Tim

Tim Stephenson is a multi award-winning creative Norfolk wedding photographer based just outside the beautiful city of Norwich, Norfolk. He photographs weddings across the East of England including of course Norfolk, Suffolk, Essex,  Cambridgeshire and is always happy to travel further afield. Tim specialises in photographing weddings in a relaxed, natural style without any need for formal posing or awkward moments. Get in touch to check his availability or to have a chat about your fabulous plans!