Thursday, 3 March 2011

"How Do I Choose A Wedding Venue?" Part 1

My request for brides with queries to e-mail me certainly prompted lots of you to drop me a line (thank you all, made me feel very popular!) so I've picked a question to start off with. This plea is going to be answered in two blogs as there's too much info for just one post! Anyway, here we go...

Hi Tamryn - please help me! We got engaged on Valentine's Day and are now trying to find ourselves a wedding venue. There's so many places we like and I've got a long list of venues to contact but I don't really know what I'm looking for and how to compare them all. Any advice you can give me would be really great. Thanks very much.

So, now you’ve got a long list of venues in the area that you’re looking for. The next step is to start gathering some information on each of them so you can begin to narrow down your selection. Either call or e-mail each venue to provisionally check their availability on your date and to request their wedding information pack (some venue websites have their brochures available for download directly which is fabulous for saving time). I have to admit that my supplier selection starts well before I even receive a brochure or pack – I mentally mark down venues or companies that don’t reply promptly and courteously, make errors with my address or name or don’t actually send me what I’ve asked for. It doesn’t take long to reply to an e-mail or to put information in an envelope and you want a venue that is interested enough in you to get back to your as quickly as possible when you request something. Once all the relevant packs have been posted or e-mailed to you, can you start wading through them and noting the following:-

Costs – are the costs within your budget? If not, there’s really no point in going any further with that venue, however gorgeous it looks. Breaking your budget so early on in the planning will have huge knock-on effects for funds you’ve allocated to other suppliers so be strict with yourselves.

Size – can they accommodate weddings parties of the size that you’re planning on inviting?

Location – is the location convenient for you? Does it have areas for photographs?

Catering – do you like the look of the sample menus and drinks lists?

Suppliers – are you allowed free reign on your suppliers or do you have to choose from their approved lists?

Other weddings – will there be other wedding parties there on the same day or do they only hold one per day?

Flexibility – how flexible are they? Do you have to make your choices from a set number of packages or can you put things together to suit yourselves?

Payments – when are you required to pay balances? How much is the deposit?

Notes – is there anything of interest noted in the ‘small print’ such as restrictions on decoration, minimum required numbers that must be catered for?

Overall – what is your overall impression of the venue from the information that you’ve received? Is it well put together? What are you gut feelings? Does the look of the venue match the style of wedding you’re hoping for?

There are no ‘right and wrong’ answers to the above questions, it’s a purely personal choice and what you’re looking for will be different to another couple so take your time. It’s quite useful to try to rank the venues in order of preference at this stage as well because however many are still in the running, it’s a good idea to try and limit the number that you actually visit. There’s no denying that venue visits take up quite a bit of time, especially when you factor in travelling and the more you see, the more confusing it can become. Try and organise visits to your top four in one weekend and go from there. It’s always best to make an appointment to visit so that you can be sure an appropriate member of staff will be available to show you around and answer your questions. Now you’ve done your research, you’re ready to get out there and make a choice.

Part 2 of this feature will tell you what to look for when you visit a venue and give you some ideas for 'must ask' questions. Stay tuned!! If you'd like to submit a question for me to answer, just e-mail me -

Image courtesy of Hillbrooke Hotels

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