Your perfect venue is out there! Read on for a few helpful tips.
Finding the perfect venue is likely at the top of your list if you’re a newly engaged couple and planning the big day. The right venue for you and your guests is a huge part of the wedding but is something that can be difficult to finalise due to the huge number of venues and their differing styles. It can be easy to fall in love with a venue online but make sure you view it before committing to anything! The venue will determine things such as the number of guests you can accommodate, the overall style of wedding you can have, your budget, entertainment, type of ceremony, the list goes on!
Here are a few tips to help with the decision process of choosing your venue:
Is the location right?
Will your guests be happy to travel? It’s not uncommon these days for the whole guestlist to travel to a location many miles from home as it is your “perfect venue”. While this works for some weddings it might not work for all. I’ve worked at weddings where over 100 people have travelled trans-Atlantic to attend the big day. If it’s going to be closer to home you may have to provide coaches and think of accommodation in and around the venue for your guests. Most weddings will have friends and family that have to travel to attend who may live further afield.
Is the capacity right?
This is really a major factor in the decision process. It will help to draw up a rough guest list before looking at venues to know what your numbers might be (consult your parents on this one too as they may want a fair few folks invited that you wouldn’t have thought of). The size and layout of the venue are really important. Too big and it may feel empty and too small it could be cramped or have guests spread over different rooms etc. It always helps to see a venue dressed for a real wedding. If this is not possible the second best thing is to search for a wedding film or photography blog that features the venue. A room may appear very large but when there are twelve tables that seat ten people in it it looks very different!
Does it fit with your theme and style?
At this stage, you may or may not know what your style/theme is. If you do know this can make things a whole lot easier. If for example you really want a barn wedding or a hotel wedding then that’s a huge milestone in the planning process. Some couples love the grandeur of stately home or palace type venues such as Dumfries House, Springkell Mansion. Hopetoun House or Ardgown Estate. Barn or rustic venues have been very popular in the last few years too. Great examples of these are GG’s Yard on the Galloway Coast, The Cow Shed at Crail in Fife, Harelaw Farm and Dalduff Farm in Ayrshire. Often this type of venue really is a blank canvas and you can literally add what you want. GG’s yard is quite unique in this sector as while it is a rustic style venue it is also very grand! I’ve never actually been in another venue quite like it and I love it for that reason. Many people opt for a stunning hotel in a city centre location or a marquee on private land. The possibilities are endless. Last year I did a wedding at a lifeboat station where the bride arrived on a lifeboat! It was amazing!
Dalmahoy Hotel and Country Club – A baronial country house with fantastic surroundings.
Springkell Mansion House – A beautiful Palladian Mansion in South Scotland.
Dumfries House – An exquisite 18th-century country home which offers everything you require for your big day.
Glasgow City Halls and Old Fruit Market – A fantastic City Centre venue in the heart of the Merchant City area of Glasgow. A real hidden gem!
Make a list of your “must haves”
Budget, try and find out before viewing if your budget fits the venue. Don’t look at venues that are out of reach budget wise. Ask for bar tariffs on the day, are the figures inclusive of VAT, is everything you see included in the quoted price etc?
Suppliers, does the venue have a contract with any suppliers that you are tied in to use in a package deal? Are you allowed to bring in your own suppliers? Most of the time you are but it’s still worth checking.
Catering, can the venue provide the type of cuisine you would like etc? You may want something like a hog roast buffet, is this possible?
Live Music, quite a big one this as the right band can really make or break the evening reception. Check the venue is allowed to have a live band play. Is there a sound limiter and if so what is the setting? Bands often turn up and struggle to do their job because of a low threshold noise limiter set by the authorities.
Fireworks/Drones etc, are these allowed at the venue? If you have your heart set on a fireworks display or a drone film this may be an influencing factor.
What is the venue lighting like?
From a photographers point of view, this one is quite a big deal. Some venues have great light indoors and some don’t. This certainly doesn’t mean one is better than the other, they just look different. Bear this in mind as it will influence your pictures and film. Some people love dark and moody venues that have lots of candles and some love really bright and airy spaces full of natural daylight. If having some great landscapes in your pictures is a priority you may want to consider the location of the venue too or maybe consider travelling to a location away from the venue for a photo shoot. City centre weddings are becoming more popular and I love them! Street images are really cool and great fun to shoot.
How will the day flow?
Many venues share spaces between different parts of the day. It’s quite common for the ceremony to take place in the same room as the dinner and evening reception. This means the venue has to be “turned around” between these parts. Ask how long that might take and check there are suitable areas for guests to mingle etc. The venue may have lots of outside space which can be great but remember it could rain! Is there a wet weather contingency area? If you are having a church wedding bear in mind the time it takes to travel to the reception venue when finalising your ceremony time. It’s not uncommon to lose an hour and a half travelling between church and reception depending on the distance. This can seriously affect the amount of time the creatives have to do your couples photo shoot and family group shots etc. The last thing we want is to delay the speeches and meal but we have to get out part done too.
Does the venue provide a manager/master of ceremonies on the day? This can really assist with timings and having people where they need to be at specific times.