You can expect to spend around 40% of your wedding budget on your reception so finding the right venue is an important choice. Our resident wedding planner Caroline Gould has put together a few things to consider:
How many guests? It will be difficult to book a venue (and ultimately set a date) if you don’t know how many people will be attending. Some venues will only be licensed up to a certain number and you don’t want to cram all of your guests in. Likewise, you wouldn’t want your 60 guests to be lost in a room big enough for 300. Some venues are more suitable for spending lots of time outside, likewise there are venues that have a beautiful interior that you will want to enjoy. When looking around venues, be sure to ask what the alternatives are to outside spaces if the weather is bad.
Do you want the ceremony and reception to be in the same location? Most venues have a civil ceremony licence so the choice for your ceremony location is very wide. If you wish to marry in a church then it’s unlikely that you will have a reception venue within walking distance. However, there are some venues that have a church within their grounds.
Where are guests coming from? Locations that are closer to home are much easier to liaise with. If your venue is an hour’s drive from home, you will need to factor that in to your ‘getting ready’ time on the day. If a lot of your guests are based far away from the venue it may be prudent to provide some transport.
Is accommodation available? You may want to stay at the venue on the wedding night or even get ready there on the day, ask to see the honeymoon suite so you know what to expect. If accommodation is available for guests, find out if you can hold a number of rooms to ensure your guests get the accommodation they need.
What style is the venue? Is it a country house, marquee, stately home, barn or a modern hotel? The style of the venue needs to complement the overall style of the wedding. A vintage style wedding would be much better suited to a country house or marquee venue than a modern hotel.
Are there in-house caterers? Venues often have in-house caterers that you will have to use. However some venues allow you to bring in your own caterer. This does mean you will need to choose yet another supplier but can allow for more flexibility.
Bear in mind that popular venues and popular dates (i.e. Saturdays in the Summer) can get booked up to 2 years in advance so the sooner you start looking the better.