How to Pick Your Perfect UK Wedding Venue – Your Ultimate Guide
Congratulations, you’re getting married! This is the time celebrate, so definitely take it all in – pop some champagne. Just pop it. This comes just once in a lifetime. So let’s party and welcome everything that comes with your partner putting a ring on it. It’s time to get excited there’s some big decisions to be made, starting first and foremost with a pretty big thing to tick off the list: picking the perfect UK wedding venue.
Booking your wedding venue is probably the biggest decision (that and your picking wedding photographer) you’ll make in the lead up to your big day and unlike other items that you can choose to have or not – there’s pretty much one guarantee – you’ll need a space to get married! But every couple’s idea of the perfect wedding venue will mean different things. Whether it’s just a large open reception space, the indoor or outdoor space you only hold your ceremony or whether you plan to use it for a few days of celebration and everyone’s accommodation too. With hotels, beach side venues, barn halls, country houses, local sports clubs, restaurants, cinemas and beautiful outside spaces to choose – the options are truly endless. So I wrote this blog share with you some amazing top tips to help you pick your perfect UK wedding venue.
In addition to being one of the biggest decisions you’ll make while wedding planning, the venue also sets the tone for the entire event. It’s like the glue that holds all the elements of your wedding day together, from getting ready all the way to send off. Needless to say, choosing a venue is a big decision. But don’t let this overwhelm you, I’m here to help you so it’s all plain sailing.
Set a Budget
Budgeting and money of those subjects that we like to avoid but my best bit of advice is to determine a wedding budget. Why should this be right up there on your list of priorities? Firstly it enables you to plan which venues and suppliers are the right fit for you, and secondly you can work out what part of your wedding is a priority so you can spend more on these parts. Also if anyone is going to be contributing to your overall wedding finances it is good to know in advance as this will help you set realistic expectations on every decision you will be making.
Having said that; this conversation, whether it be between the two of you or all of the parents (and even extended family members), could be a tough one. So, in my experience, it’s best just to bite the bullet, sit down with your beverage of choice, and figure it ALL out together.
Keep this in mind that exploring expectations vs. reality can be a learning curve, and things may need to be adjusted down the road.
Destination or Domestic
Destination weddings are becoming more popular and it’s not hard to imagine why. But destination doesn’t simply mean travelling abroad – this can simply be getting married at your favourite spot in the UK (like Cornwall). When deciding on whether to have a destination wedding or to have a domestic wedding, consider what makes the most sense for you – based on your personality, your dreams and desires, budget, guests and schedule. This is a day you’ll look back on with years to come so don’t let friends and family dictate your wedding … have it your way! Going on from that you may wish to consider tourism seasons. High tourist seasons may find it difficult to find transport and accommodation and bump the costs up. It can also add a bit of time on to logistics. During high tourist season in Cornwall you’ll find it takes a lot longer to get from A to B due to Cornwalls tiny roads. It can be quite a challenge to plan a wedding in a country you don’t live in but a destination planner (these people are your best friends) will be able to help. These professionals know all of the ins and outs of curating celebrations and they will handle a lot of the heavy lifting for you.
The culture of a destination could be what is drawing you in but you may want to consider potential language barriers (not much of a problem in big hotels), cultural differences and in the current climate and travel restrictions and rules.
Dates … it’s time to set the date and get those save your date cards in the post. Let’s not jump ahead of ourselves though as there are a few things to consider when considering a date for your wedding. First things first is to sit down and consider what season you and your partner would like to get married. Each season can provide a unique perspective on the wedding location.
You may ask yourselves –
“What is your favourite season?”
“Is there a particular time where life is a bit hectic for you (multiple things all at once can make for manic wedding planning)?”
“Is there a date or time of year that holds some significance to you as a couple (maybe the date you got engaged)?”
“What kind of climate, floral’s and general feel do you envision for your day (vibrant spring, warm summer, orange autumn, cosy winter)?”
Narrowing down the possibilities with those questions will help you come up with an overall plan for the day. If you want a cosy wedding with dramatic lighting and lot’s of leafy greenery you may consider a winter wedding. Whereas your more typical springtime wedding may have more pastel blooms and light, airy colours. There are advantages and disadvantages to all seasons, so be sure to weigh the options carefully. Check weather patterns and plan accordingly, from the beginning, for a pleasurable experience for guests, rain or shine.
Do you mind the time of year of your wedding? Would you like to save money? This might be one of your non-negotiables. Depending on the date and season prices will fluctuate. If you’re not particular about the season or range of dates, there are a couple things you can do to save you a few pennies. First, consider booking an off-season wedding or by booking a day other than a Saturday (which used to be the gold standard in wedding-perfect days of the week but this has been blown wide open). Just remember this could lower the number of guests able to come. Also – little hint here – remember the dates that play with numbers (11/12/13, 08/18/18, etc.) tend to be popular and more expensive, so if you’re booking one of those dates as it’s important to you, reach out to venues sooner rather than later.
The biggest factor in selecting the date is the actual availability of the venue! Venues often book 12–18 months in advance, so keep those timelines in mind when setting appointments.
Getting A Grip Of Your Guest List
It is easy to underestimate this is a part of your wedding, as the guest list will just keep on growing. You might be saying no it won’t right now but when you come to write it names will keep on magically appearing. You’ll sit there thinking – do I actually know this many people. If you start inviting wider family, neighbours, work colleagues from both parties numbers will shoot up. Having an Intimate Wedding where you just invite family may suddenly appeal to you – and this will completely change the venue you are looking for. If you’ve got people contributing to your wedding like your parents they may wish to add in a few of their friends. There are no rules for who you should or shouldn’t invite for your wedding day but our biggest piece of advice would be for you to think about who you truly would like there on your big day and write those names down.
Going on from what I said above to choose your perfect wedding venue, you are going to need to have a rough idea on the number of guests you’ll want to invite. By no means does this mean it needs to be a full and final list but your numbers are going to determine whether you are searching for a venue that has the capacity to fit your full wedding party whether that’s 50, 75 or over 100 or whether you’re more suited to a more intimate wedding suitable for an Intimate Wedding. It’ll also determine centrepieces, catering, chair covers and stationery.
Top Tip – You don’t have to invite all your guests to the main event. You can always invite them to just the reception.
Of course, not all of your invited guests will be able to make your wedding, it is normal when estimating numbers for the day for around 85% of invited guests to attend a local wedding and around 65-55% to attend a destination wedding. If you’re edging more towards a destination wedding it is best to keep in mind that guests might not want to travel alone, so adding a plus one might be a must. However this will also increase your guest count.
List Your Non Negotiable’s
Time to create a list. One of the most important lists for your wedding day. The list of non negotiable. So what is it. It’s basically setting out for you what you prioritise most for your wedding day. My best tip here is to have what’s the most important aspect of your wedding day right at the top and work down. But be strict with yourself as there might be a time where some items will have to be sacrificed. Whilst most wedding venues may offer a similar sort of service and space, not every venue will be suitable for your vision for your day.
Your non negotiable parts for your wedding venue could be you want to get married on a beach, you want to get married abroad or you want a particular musician there. Different venues will be able to cater for different needs so having this list can help work out you wedding venue needs.
Talk to a Wedding Planner or Wedding Coordinator
Do you want to get the best advice for the your potential wedding venue area? Local wedding planners know all of the best spots – they just know everything. They’ll be able to help guide you in finding the perfect wedding venue. Plus they are incredibly familiar with layouts, the capabilities of what the space can hold and what additional items or services you may need to consider to bring your vision for your day to life. Don’t forget wedding photographers though. Wedding Photographers are your new best friends – not only can they offer you wedding venue advice but also show you what it’s like to have a wedding there, the best suppliers in the area and what the staff there are like too.
Is one of your non negotiables a particular type of entertainment? However your venue might have limited space for this, so it’s worth speaking to the suppliers you are considering as they may have performed at the venue before and will know the best spaces and what you may need to consider. Talking to wedding suppliers who are creative by nature will ensure that you are armed with knowledge of everything from the best photo spots to hidden areas at the venue and open you up to ideas you may not have otherwise considered.
Look at Real Weddings of Your Top 3 Venues
There are new wedding venues that are popping up all the time, so it might not always be able to see what a real wedding would actually look like there. But the venues which have been around for a while will have plenty of galleries to share with you so you can get an understanding of what it’s actually like to get married there. Check out your venue on Social Media and do a quick Google search to find photographers who may have worked there. Real wedding photos will give you an insight and inspiration on how the space is used at a real wedding rather than just at a styled shoot or in the venue brochure. Feel free to reach out to me and ask if I’ve worked at that wedding venue before (drop me a message here), I’m sure most photographers won’t mind you asking a few questions too.
Detailed Pick Your Perfect UK Wedding Venue Top Tips
Do You Have Exclusive Hire –
Are you looking for complete privacy? If you are choose a venue that offers exclusive hire. Ask your potential your wedding venues if they allow the public to be in the same vicinity as your wedding.
Are They Licensed –
When it comes to the ceremony part of your wedding and if you are looking to have it legally binding you’ll need to have a venue with a marriage license. Some venues have areas where you can legally marry after your symbolic ceremony; other venues offer the symbolic part only.
Don’t think you’re limited to place with a marriage license though, if you choose to have a celebrant led ceremony the possibilities are endless. For instance if your dream is to have your wedding on a cliff top in Cornwall or a particular rustic indoor space but you aren’t doing the wedding legalities on the day, you can have a a celebrant led ceremony at you dream location. Yes the possibility here is quite endless. You’ve got the potential to have your vision come to life!
Does The Venue Offer Accommodation –
Are people travelling to your wedding from all around the globe? So will you need any onsite accommodation (or accommodation which is just around the corner) to host guests?
Multiple Day Hire –
You may be wishing to make your one day celebration into multiple days of celebrations. Don’t worry you’re not the first to want this. It is growing in popularity and a number of wedding venues now offer exclusive, multiple day hire. Helping you to soak up this epic moment in your life.
Eco is a massive priority on a lot of peoples lists. So don’t feel alone or that it’s a silly priority to have. A lot of venues have already thought about this and are driving towards being more eco conscientious.
Is The Venue Pet Friendly –
Have you got a furry fluff ball? They’ve become your best friend, am I right? So why shouldn’t you have them at the wedding (maybe they could be your ring bearer). Having your pet at your wedding is becoming very common from dogs to horses lots of animals are welcome. There are a growing number of venues allowing you to include your well-behaved pets on the day. Pets also makes for the most amazing photographs – be prepared for them to take away the limelight for a split second.
Time for the wedding finale of fairytales – fireworks. Are you considering rounding the day off with an epic firework display? Many venues have strict policies limiting/banning the use of fireworks; so do check with your venue so you won’t be disappointed.
Other Suppliers –
So many suppliers out there that can help your tell your wedding vision, but who to choose? When choosing your venue you’ll want to consider how much can be done in house by the venue and whether they have a preferred supplier list for you to use. Some venues will be able to point you in the direction of trusted suppliers that they work closely with and even insist on you hiring their DJ or caterers for example. They trust these suppliers but it doesn’t mean they’ll share your wedding vision.
The recommended suppliers could push the budget you had set for each supplier out of reach and work out more expensive than sourcing your own. Venues will also mostly insist that suppliers you hire on the day have relevant insurances.
Some venues might have restrictions on certain suppliers – for instance when the band can play music until. Ask your wedding coordinator about any restrictions they may have.
Consider The Costs for Your Guests –
Often overlooked is the price factor for your guests. You might have to check on how affordable it is for your guests to stay there, how much the drinks are at the bar, and how far they have to travel. You want your guest to have as an amazing time as you are.
Choosing a venue can seem a minefield, however it’s a really exciting part of the wedding planning process. Getting your venue locked in with lots of time to spare will then allow you to plan other aspects of your wedding and get your save the dates out.
Time to let your creativity go and start planning the wedding of your dreams!
Would you like to know the right questions to ask when you visit your potential Wedding Venues?