Choosing your wedding and reception venue can require more consideration than you originally think. It's not just about finding somewhere that looks pretty but there are a number of technical elements that you sometimes won't think of until an issue comes up.
Here is a little handy list of key points to consider when booking your venue. Any past brides reading this- feel free to comment or message me any other complications you found with wedding venues.
1. Top most important thing to consider is obviously budget - this will eat up most of your wedding funds so really plan your budget wisely. I have had friends book venues and let the amount creep up on them last minute, try to prepare for the final amount as sometimes venues will only take the rest of the payment after deposit within 4 weeks of the wedding.
2. How long has the venue been running? How are they doing financially? You definitely don't expect to consider these questions but believe me in this current economic climate it's certainly worth checking that the venue will still be fully functioning buy the time it comes to your wedding day. One of my best friends had two - yes two! Two venues call her to say that due to financial aspects they had to cancel her wedding. The second one cancelled but sending her an email not long after we had spent hours hand making her invitations. Thankfully she hadn't yet posted them so no guests turned up at the wrong venue. Extremely stressful for her though will only a few month until her big day after two years of planning. Even more thankful were we for the Stadium Light in Sunderland, Tyne and Wear who ended up hosting the full day and were wonderful. So yes! It might feel intrusive but don't skip past this step.
3. How many guests are you having? Like number 1 this is a little obvious. But you really don't want to book a huge Castle for only 50 guests day and night. Particularly on the night do as a big dance floor can feel very empty. However, do check with the venue as they can often have more than one function. I was recently at Langley Castle in Durham, North East. The Castle itself is like an incredible maze but the function room that was used for the wedding reception was surprisingly intimate and fit the limited number of guests perfectly.
4. Do you have to pay for the Wedding Tasting? Not a hugely important one but there are many venues that offer this for free. It's likely you are paying thousands to hire out the venue so if you can barter a free taster session out of it then go for it! A lovely little freebie bonus plus it's an excuse to have a date night during the lead up to an expensive day.
5. Are you having the ceremony and reception at the same venue? If not how far apart is the ceremony venue to the reception venue and will you arrange a bus for your guests? Do you have a budget for transport?
6. Following on from number 5. How far away do guests live from the night time reception? Chances are everyone will want to drink in the evening and getting home will be an issue. Is it far for them to pay for taxi's? Will there be a big bus to drop people in a different town at midnight? Or is there local BnB's or Hotel's? If the night time venue is in a Hall or Hotel do they offer a cheaper rate for wedding guests? Your guests will certainly be happy to have as much information as possible in relation to their convenience. It shows you really want them there and have done your research to ensure they get home ok or back to a cosy hotel room after celebrating with you.
7. Can you pay for corkage? So it works out cheaper to pay for corkage and provide your own alcohol than bar prices but it's a lot of hassle. The hotels make most of their profit from bar sales so not all offer a corkage option. Then you need to think about do you want to give your guests free alcohol? From past experience at weddings all over the North East I've seen that it can get out of control as people stop thinking about how much they are drinking. You could ask the venue if you could pay for corkage just for welcome drinks, drinks with meal and toasts. That way you are still saving money without having to pull out for an open bar and experience the trauma that usually runs alongside it.
8. Do they provide free meals for photographers/ videographers? Some hotels will provide free meals for people who are providing a service on the day of your wedding. The photographer/ videographer by no means will expect a meal but it's a nice little bonus if the hotel offer it for free.
9. Restrictions- Are there any restricted areas you need to be aware of to tell photographers/ videographers. This isn't essential at they will most likely be made aware of it on the day but it helps for you to have that information so you can give a heads up. I filmed a wedding in Beamish Hall Hotel, Durham a few weeks a go and the photographer and I had to sign a declaration before we were allowed onto an old balcony to get shots of the guests below. At this time the balcony was filled with about 30cm of snow, thankfully we didn't slip as we had just signed our lives away. But it's this kind of risks I love doing and it was worth it to get a great shot. Besides, at the time I think the guest were the biggest risk takers- out in the snow to get a fabulous shot that the Bride and Groom will remember forever.
10. Last but not least make sure you choose a venue you just love. There are lots of amazing venues across the North East and the whole of you UK but sometimes you just know when it feels right. Whether it is somewhere pretty, somewhere old with character, somewhere intimate and cosy or my favourite - somewhere with lots of light! The main thing is to pick somewhere that really sums up who you both are as a couple. It's not about pleasing anyone else but the two of you. It's your day after all so if you really want that huge castle or even just the local pub down the road then do what will make you both happy and everyone else will be happy for you.