Part two – let the wedding venue hunt begin
BY NIKKI, BRIDE-TO-BE ON 1 AUG 2011 16:24 TIPS & ADVICECOMMENTS
So after the initial engagement high the reality of the things to organise suddenly started setting in – the ‘when’, the ‘where’ and the ‘who’ is going to occupying your thoughts from this point forward! As we live in London and our families are approximately 100 miles apart, we decided to tackle the where (which also affects the ‘when’) first. After looking at acceptable travelling distances (I envy those of you not have to have a 100 mile area to scour!) we needed to agree the type of venue we wanted as there is actually quite a choice – church, registry, town halls and hotels, farms etc.
Luckily we didn’t have our first wedding argument and both agreed that we would like a country house of some description and didn’t veer too far from that – although I did throw the odd barn and farm viewing in for good measure! After drawing up a list of some 30 + venues (no I’m not kidding) we then did our research and tried to discount some based on price (how much?!) and anything that we obviously didn’t want to see.
That left us with about 20 venues on our not so short-list which I then scheduled viewings for and invited both sets of parents to join us. After an eventful few weeks on our venue tour we narrowed it down to 3 choices and did further visits and entered into costs/availability discussions with all venues. After a week of discussions and over a really nice brunch on the High Street we decided on a summer 2012 wedding at the gorgeous Hedingham Castle in Essex.
The deciding factors being that both the Norman Keep ceremony room (quite church-like for a couple that did not want to get married in a church!) and the reception grounds/marquee were exactly what we were looking for and the staff were very professional, organised and friendly which is important when trusting people with the running of your big day! If I’m honest, and I think that the fiancé would agree, I think that we would be more focused if we were to do our venue hunting again and it’s easy to get caught up in the excitement and forget what your wedding vision really was in the first place (remember Vegas was ruled out!)
Here are some of my top tips for the venue search:
- Once you have an idea on type and/or location of venue, do a search and compile a to-view list, remembering that you’ll need to make appointments with the venues.
- Check through some wedding magazines to get a list or some useful sites to use are weddingvenues.com and nationaltrust.org.uk. We also found it best to view a venue when they are set up for a wedding to give you the full picture.
- Money – Although some of the packages you may see online look like a good deal, double check the number of guests this is based on. Most are based on 50/60 guests and have surchages for extra day & evening guests applied at a higher rate.
- Have a good idea on guest numbers before you view and also when you would ideally like your wedding to take place – this can be a season not a specific date.
- If you are trying to keep the costs down try looking at a Thursday or a Friday wedding date.
- Don’t be afraid to negotiate, it doesn’t hurt to try and though they may not negotiate on price this is a competitive market and they might try to sway you by throwing some services in.
- Exclusivity – after our first few viewings it became apparent that some venues are like wedding conveyor belts, many with up to 3 weddings on the same day. If this is not a factor for you then you’re fine but if like me you don’t want to walk into anybody else’s party in a big white dress after one too many champagnes then you’ll need to check out the logistics with the venues. Many venues will allow you to buy exclusivity for the day but this can be expensive (especially for the larger venues).
- Accommodation – again this may not apply to everyone but if you are expecting guests from afar then you will need to bear this in mind.
- Parents – they love a wedding and seeing you on the weekends but remember that traipsing them around various venues within a 100 mile radius is likely to fray their nerves as well as yours, especially if you’re hungover (sorry Mum! x)
I am very excited that we’re now over the biggest hurdle (surely everything’s got to be easier than the massive venue hunt we undertook!) and so pleased with our end choice. I’m still ridiculously addicted to bridal magazines and ripping out pages and glueing into my scrapbooks (although this is actually proving to be quite helpful when trying to imagine place settings, flower arrangements etc. – all the creative things that I am not particularly good at. f you have any top tips to add to venue viewings above please comment, or even if it’s just to help me get in touch with my creative side!
Coming soon: The Big One – dress shopping with Mum (if she’s still talking to me…)