Finding and selecting (hiring is used in UK) a venue is one of the biggest costs – and headaches – associated with a wedding. The reception venue in particular is where you and your guests will spend most of the day, so it’s important to choose the right venue carefully.
Your venue budget will dictate other factors, such as the size of venue you can afford to hire, and its location. When visiting prospective venues, you should enquire about different price options, for example whether the venue is cheaper at certain times of the year, or on certain days of the week. Hiring a venue on a weekday tends to be cheaper than at weekends, but the downside is that some guests might not be able to take the time off work.
One of the most important considerations is the size of the venue. You need to make sure venue is large enough to house all guests, plus extra furniture and accessories you will have. A space might look large when it’s empty but by the time you fit tables, chairs, and entertainment equipment in there, the extra will disappear quickly. Part of the size decision includes knowing whether you want to have ceremony and reception all in one place. If the ceremony venue is small, you can invite a certain proportion of the guests just to the reception. The reception venue needs to have enough space so that you can separate out different areas for guests to eat, drink, and dance.
Having your wedding or reception in a public space might sound romantic, but in reality it won’t be very private. If you want to have your party in local gardens, or in a place of public interest, you should think about how much privacy you want. If you’re planning to use a venue that might not have as much privacy as you’d like, try negotiating with the vendor, and ask whether they would be able to give you a section of the venue to yourselves.
It might sound like a small detail, but the lighting in your venue can make a huge difference to the atmosphere of your wedding ceremony and reception party. Try to visit prospective venues at the same time of day you’d like to have the ceremony so you can see whether the lighting will work for you. Equally, you want to make sure that the lighting is right for the occasion when you’re having dinner and your reception party. It should be dim, but bright enough for people to see what they’re doing.
By the time you’re visiting venues, you’ll probably have thought about some themes. Does the venue fit with any of the ideas you had in mind, or would it clash?
The facilities available at the venue are another important factor in your decision, as they will contribute to the guests’ enjoyment of the party. You should check that any prospective venues have enough toilets for the number of guests you plan to invite. Another consideration is the number of electrical outlets in the room. If you are having entertainment, such as a DJ or a band, they will need several sources of electricity. You should also check if whether the venue has an alcohol license.
When visiting a prospective venue, it’s important to look at the location’s accessibility. You need to ensure it has enough parking, and research the local public transport options too. Then, when you’re sending the invitations, you can tell guests whether they can bring their own vehicle, or need to arrange a lift home.