Finding the perfect venue is likely to be at the top of any newly engaged couples list. With the venue playing a vital role in the success of your day it’s the big decision you really need to get right. Just like viewing a new property it is easy to become overexcited and fall in love with a place without checking the venue can cater to your requirements, so we are here to answer that question - how to choose a wedding venue?
Pembroke Lodge is a longstanding popular wedding venue based in Richmond Park, SW London. The team have organised over 3,500 weddings and have compiled an expert’s guide to viewing venues to help ensure you find a location that is perfect for you.
Wait until you get the feeling
Much like finding your dress, the shoes, a new home, it is true that when you view venues you will know if it is right for you. You need to be able to picture yourself there on the day and ensure the style of the building both exterior and interior will work with the theme of your wedding.
Finding the right venue in our opinion is the most important factor, once you fall in love with somewhere before rushing in to anything at the very least check the following match your criteria:
Is it the right location?
Where will your guests be coming from? If they are not local, choosing a venue that is easily accessible, has accommodation on site or hotels in close proximity is desirable. If you have guests coming from abroad how far is the closest international airport? These factors may play a role in your decision making.
Is the capacity right for you?
Think about whether you need a large capacity wedding venue or a smaller and more intimate wedding venue. The size of the venue is just as important, too small for your number of guests and the room will feel stuffy and overcrowded, too big and guests will feel lost and the space will feel cold. When a space is empty it is hard to imagine how it will look when filled with tables. For this reason we would always advise viewing a venue when it is set up for a wedding. If this is not possible ask to see photographs, most venues should have a photo book or slideshow. Another tip is to ask for a seating plan of the room at capacity, this will give you a good idea of how much space there is and how comfortably your guests numbers will fit.
Ask about the flow of the day
Make sure the venue representative talks you through how a typical day runs. The flow of the day is crucial, any long pauses or delays and your guests will become bored. If your ceremony and reception is in the same room how long does the turnaround take, where will the guests be and what will they be doing? This is also relevant between the reception meal and the evening dancing. The weather in the UK can be unpredictable to say the least! If it does rain does the venue have indoor space for the reception drinks? Do they provide a master of ceremonies/manager? This takes the stress off you and is the best way to make sure all your guests are where they are meant to be at all times.
Check the timings
Planning the time of your ceremony is a big decision; when do the venue advise? In our experience weddings of 8-9 hours work well, any longer than this and the atmosphere dwindles towards the end, you want your wedding to end on a high!
Also bear in mind where the majority of people will be coming from on the day, leave plenty of time for people to get ready and arrive.
Also ask, what set up time is included in the hire fee, when will your suppliers have access to the room and when do things need to be collected?
Think about the lighting
Lighting plays an important part in any event, if your ceremony is during the day does the room have lots of natural daylight? During the evening do they provide/ let you bring in candles?
Cameras will be a big part of your day so practise your smiles! Bearing this in mind what is the surrounding area around your venue like? Where will your photographs be? If you are looking at a central town hall where will you take outdoor photographs? The view from the venue and any outdoor space is also a massive plus not only for photographs but for your guests enjoyment. Does the venue have grounds or ample outdoor space – this is useful if you have children attending and for guests to stretch their legs for ten minutes after the reception meal.
Check the finer details
At the venue viewing stage you will not know every detail of your day however you must ask the venue what is not permitted…. If you envisage a romantic candlelit winter ceremony check the venue permits candles! If you are having your ceremony at the same venue can you throw confetti?
Finding these details out early in the planning stage before you book is essential, you are likely to have an idea of what your day will be like and the venue needs to be able to live up to this, for this reason write a list of…..
Make a list of your non-negotiables
Before viewing any venues sit down with your partner and discuss any non-negotiables these could include:
- Budget – will the venue be able to provide everything you need within your budget, is VAT included in the price, are staff gratuities added and if so are they optional?
- Catering – What type of cuisine would you like? Can the venue provide this?
- Suppliers – do you have artistic friends that want to bake the cake or take the photographs? If so check the venue will permit this or do you need to use their recommended suppliers?
- Live music – if you would like a band does the venue permit this? If you would like a string quartet during reception drinks do the venue allow music outside?
- Fireworks, sparklers, flame eaters etc. – if you have any different entertainment ideas check your venue will allow it.
Finding your venue will be one of the big milestones in your wedidng planning and wil determine your date, location and therefore will impact a lot of your other wedding planning decisions. You may even want to consider finding a wedding dress that perfectly suits your venue.