Tips for choosing a wedding venue

We asked some of our fabulous venue operators for their expert tips and advice on choosing a wedding venue. We got a fantastic response, with lots of useful information to help you pick a venue for your big day.

If you have any of your own tips that you would like to share we would love to hear from you - please leave a comment at the bottom of the page.

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Ideal for weddings, conferences, meetings with a unique bespoke arrangement

"We don't believe that the most important day the life of a bride and groom can, or should be considered as an off-the-shelf package. Each couple's requirements are unique and differ greatly, so why should you be packaged together? In choosing a venue look for one that respects your wishes and desires; one that lets you decide how you want to celebrate your union, and does not dictate what you can or cannot do.

We believe that the essence of a wedding should be flexibility and choice. This model of a bespoke 'plan it yourself' wedding is proving increasingly popular but you need to ensure that the facilities you need can be supplied as the basis for your big day. Look for a venue that can help you should you want them to and has a wide range of services and support at competitive rates should you wish to use them. And of course, make sure they know their own venue intimately, know what will work and what may prove difficult and can advise you on the best plan to make it a perfect wedding!"

"Research the venue, look at all the trusted review sites on the internet eg Trip Advisor etc. and look at any testimonials on the venues own web site, if possible ask friends or relatives that may have visited for an event.

When visiting the venue make a list of questions prior to the meeting and ask to see evidence to back the answers, have a clear vision of what you would like the venue to supply and to ensure the quality make sure there is the opportunity to test this, menu trials, open evenings etc. Be totally happy with your choice and don't settle for somewhere because it is nearly right."

Hotel front from the sweeping drive
River Cottage bathed in sun

"It may seem obvious but choosing the right venue starts by deciding what you both want for your big day. Visiting different venues will help you to decide, but it's a good idea before you arrange your visits to sit down together to see what you both want out of the day and just as importantly what you don't want. This will save you a lot of time - I know this from personal experience as my fiancee and I spent a week looking at venues and weren't happy with any of them! Make sure there is enough accommodation in the area was another thing that I learnt.

You will know if you have the right feeling for the venue but as this is such a personal thing I can't advise on it. Something I think is paramount is to consider is how much you want to do yourselves. A lot of my friends have got married recently and they really had no idea how much work organising a wedding can be - it's great to have a blank canvas but it's also a lot of work. Do you have the time, contacts and the skills?

At River Cottage we have an in-house co-ordinator (yes that's me!) who guides you through the process and organises your celebration with you. This frees up your time to focus on enjoying yourselves on the day and on all the important things like dress shopping and choosing favours! Here we have excellent in-house chefs who in the lead up you get to create your seasonal menu with. This level of service makes your life much easier than if you are doing everything yourself as co-ordinating furniture deliveries, caterers, your guests and decorations is quite a task! You will pay slightly more but it might be worth it for your stress levels!"

"When going to look for the perfect Wedding venue it isn't you that finds the venue it is the venue that finds you!

If you can walk around and feel warm, and if the venue feels friendly, almost that is has given you a big hug like an old friend - that's the venue for you. You should arrive as a guest but feel like you are leaving as friend.

If you feel that you are "just another booking" then that's how you will be treated!

The venue should feel professional and not stuffy, the service should feel slick and not rushed personable and not over familiar.

Revisit - sit - relax and soak up the atmosphere. That way you will truly feel everything that will make your mind up and make it the right choice."

A stunning night time view of Wadenhoe House
Stealing a quite moment as the sun sets behind Bodmin Moor

"When looking at a venue make sure you are able to work out if all the costs are included and if they aren't what extra costs there would be. There is nothing worse than booking a venue and then being told that VAT wasn't included in the overall price or that you then have to hire in all you crockery and glasses, this can not only mean you end up spending more money, but it also takes a lot of time to coordinate, where instead you want to be spending time doing the fun things like dress shopping or hen night planning.

It is also really important that you like and get on with the people who work there as you will be working closely with them in all the planning and they should be there on the day to make sure things run smoothly."

"A good tip for choosing the right venue for you would be to choose somewhere that you are both happy with, and where you feel relaxed, it is the most memorable day of your life, and you want to be able to feel relaxed. This is what we offer at The Courtyard Hotel, we are an independent Hotel, so we're not part of a chain of hotel that has to stick to rules.

We have a very flexible approach with our Bride & Groom's, and cater for their needs, every wedding we have is different, and we want to help the couples achieve their perfect day."

Relaxed outside seating
Ceremony Room

"Do some research on the venues you think may appeal to create a short list then visit each on your list. Do not however rule out a venue because they do not meet all of your initial criteria. Like choosing a dress, a venue may surprise or disappoint you with its fit.

You may, for example, think a hotel venue best because everyone can stay there over night. This may be so or it might be a bland and expensive (often hotels make up their profit on room charges) alternative to a venue that has lots of very varied local accommodation choices.

Think about your guests not just your own needs in this regard. Some may be put off attending at all by high bar & room tariffs.

Above all ask yourselves if you are a good fit with the owners or managers of the venue. Will they be supportive when you need them too and flexible to meet your specific needs? Asking lots of question from a preprepared list can help you find this out. Your venues wedding coordinator should be knowledgeable about all of the information you need to create a wedding to remember."

"Booking the right venue comes down to so many considerations, but what you do not want to do is be paying for facilities you are not using.

Make sure the venue has a dedicated wedding co-ordinator, who will most likely be your co-ordinator on the big day. Its really important that all the little things you discuss early on are picked up on and remembered, even if you forget them.

Smaller independent venues, such as Hilton House, with owner Zoe as Wedding Co-ordinator will listen to what you want and can be more flexible, not insisting that you must have this or that, and will ensure that you have the day you want the way you want it."

Wedding Top Table
Great Room ceremony

"When first researching venues, make sure you have a budget in mind as well as estimated guest numbers. There is nothing worse than finding your perfect venue, and realising it is out of your price range. Nothing else will compare after! Ask the venue to give you an itemised quote- listing exactly what is included in the price and if there are any upgrades or package changes available (and the cost to do so). Our wedding package rate is £140+vat per person and includes venue hire, catering, staff, AV, chairs, tables, linen, crockery and much more. However, we can happily provide bespoke packages to work around ones budget, if required."

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