Which key questions should every bride and groom ask a prospective wedding venue? Here’s our rundown of the essential ten – advised by three UK wedding experts who explain exactly why you need to ask them.
1. Will the venue be available on my wedding day?
‘Check a venue’s availability before even visiting,’ says Andrea Swift, wedding planner at Fabulous Day. ‘Popular venues can be booked up to two years in advance during peak season (May to September and December). If you can be flexible with dates you’re less likely to be disappointed.’
2. Is your venue easy to find?
‘Check directions on the venue’s website and see if the postcode is accurate for sat nav,’ says Andrea. ‘Include these details in with your invitations along with a map for your guests. Ideally find a venue within 20 to 30 minutes of your ceremony and if you’re worried about guests getting lost, you could provide transport, such as a coach or a London bus.’
3. Is your venue licensed to carry out civil weddings?
According to Andrea, good wedding venues have this information readily available on websites or in brochures. ‘Your local registrar’s office should have a full list of venues holding a licence,’ she says, ‘but it is your responsibility to check the registrar’s availability. You can only give notice one year in advance of the wedding, but some registry offices allow you to provisionally hold dates for a year before you have to give notice.’
4. Will ours be the only wedding at your venue?
‘If you don’t want to see another bride on your wedding day, you’ll need a venue with exclusive use,’ advises Andrea. ‘This does sometimes come at a premium but for peace of mind it could be worth it. If a venue holds more than one wedding a day, ask how they do it - they’re often very good at keeping the weddings separate.’
5. How many guests can you accommodate?
‘Look at numbers carefully when venue searching,’ says wedding planner Julie Tooby of Essentially You. ‘A venue may have limitations on capacity or parking. Be prepared to either re-jig your guest list or go back to the drawing board.’
6. Can we access all areas of the venue?
‘Ask about every aspect of access to and from the venue,’ says Julie. ‘And find out what access you can have to the grounds or gardens; there’s no point booking a venue for its beautiful lawns only to find out they are not for your use.’
7. What are the rules and regulations?
‘Always ask about confetti and fireworks,’ Julie advises. ‘Many venues do not allow them. Ask if candles are allowed on your tables and if they have to be fully contained in a storm lantern, or if candelabras are acceptable, etc. Enquire about noise limiters, especially if you want a band, and ask about curfew times; you can’t party until 1am if you have to be off the premises by midnight.’
8. Do you offer discounts?
‘Many venues offer discounts for bridal parties, such as special room rates or discounts on spa treatments for the bride,’ says Bernadette Parry, events coordinator at Liverpool’s Hard Day’s Night Hotel. ‘Flexibility on dates saves money too. One of our brides wanted a Saturday wedding but was on a tight budget. She eventually booked a bank holiday Sunday, which was cheaper — and no one had to get up for work in the morning.’
9. Do you have a bridal suite?
‘A bridal suite should be one of the best rooms available and brides usually get a discount,’ says Bernadette. ‘Our John Lennon suite is normally £950 per night, but brides get it for £450, for example. If your venue doesn’t have a bridal suite, it may be too far to travel to a lovely room elsewhere. And find out if guests can stay too; they enjoy the convenience and having breakfast together the next morning, but if it’s a popular venue you may need to block book rooms well in advance.’
10. What does your venue offer that is extra special?
‘Not every venue advertises the extras offered to a bridal party,’ Bernadette says. ‘You might get a complementary bottle of champagne, or breakfast in bed. Guests may be able to check in early, or there might be a special room for the bride to get ready in. These special extras enhance the day and ensure that the bride and groom feel like celebrities.’
Image contributed by LJ Photographics