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How to choose a wedding venue

PUBLISHED: 12:33 24 February 2015 | UPDATED: 12:33 24 February 2015

A traditional marquee in a beautiful garden could be the perfect answer

A traditional marquee in a beautiful garden could be the perfect answer

Archant

The proposal was accepted, friends and family are delighted and the couple are on cloud nine, now it’s time to find a special place to host the big day. Joanne Goodwin, editorial director of Hertfordshire, Cambridgeshire and Bedfordshire Bride magazine, gives her top tips for finding the perfect wedding venue

Finding the right venue for a wedding should be the first thing on a couple’s to-do list once they’ve set the date. From stately homes and country houses to glorious gardens, rustic barns or boutique hotels, there are hundreds of venues a bride and groom can choose for their big day. 
Things to consider when choosing include whether a location is needed for the whole celebration or just after a church wedding. Is there a theme for the wedding and will the venue complement this? (If staging a vintage party in a contemporary setting, for example, it will need a lot of expensive dressing). If the venue has accommodation are there special rates for the wedding party and is exclusive hire available for the day and night or the whole weekend if it’s an extended celebration? What about entertainment? Is it necessary to hire sound or lighting equipment? How late can the evening reception go on until and are there any restrictions on noise that mean a party has to stop or move indoors at a certain time? Are fireworks allowed?

Check out social media such as TripAdvisor and Twitter to see what couples are saying about venues and visit those that look as though they could be the place for you.

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Top 10 tips on how to pick the perfect venue

1. Location, location, location. This should be the starting point. Do you want to marry where you live or where you were brought up; at a specially meaningful location for you and the groom; or join the increasing number of couples marrying abroad?

2. What sort of day do you want? Think carefully about the style of the day – this should represent you as a couple. Do you want the whole thing in one place or have you always dreamed of a church ceremony first?

3. Keep an open mind – even if you’ve got a particular venue in mind, look at a few more – if only to cement the fact your original choice is ‘the one’.

4. Do your research – visit wedding shows and fairs, do internet searches and look at venues advertised in bridal magazines. What you consider a wild card, may just turn out to be the right place for you.

5. Ask lots of questions. Make a list of things that are important to you before you visit, such as whether you can have exclusive use, if they provide in-house catering, and if they can provide a list of recommended suppliers. Don’t assume anything is automatically included in the price – ask if there are additional charges for linen, service, menu cards etc.

6. Picture perfect – your wedding photos are a lasting reminder of your day. Every couple hopes to have wedding pictures taken outside – but are there plenty of photo opportunities inside as well? Make sure the décor is to your taste as it will be staring at you from that picture on the mantelpiece for years to come.

7. How flexible is the venue? Your day should be personal to you and your guests. There are certain things venues can’t offer (fireworks in an area with thatched roofs for example), but most will do their very best to help plan your perfect day.

8. If the venue provides in-house catering make sure you book a meal to sample the food and service and ask for a menu tasting for your big day as well.

9. Will guests be able to travel to the venue easily? How far is it from the church if you are marrying there first? If guests are travelling from a distance are there plenty of hotel rooms at the venue or nearby? Do they offer groups discounts for block bookings of bedrooms?

10. And finally – go with your heart. Does the venue feel right for you? As soon as you walk in can you imagine the day you can have there? If it feels good, book it.

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