So far in the series, I’ve introduced the three key aspects of planning a wedding that pretty much affect every other thing that is connected with your big day. These are who, where and how much (otherwise known as your guests, venue and budget). This group of three things are very much intertwined. Plus when you hold your wedding is connected too! As previously covered (in the who post), nearly all the decisions you have to make about your wedding will come back to one, two or all of the elements in what I class as ‘the holy trinity of wedding planning’.
This month I’m going to tackle the where element and your all-important choice of venue (and will look at the last element in the trinity of how much another time).
Finding the right venue that is available at the right time, for the right price, for the right number of guests will be one of the first (and trickiest) parts of planning your wedding. But once you’ve decided on this element everything else will seem like a doddle! Before venue hunting, have a rough idea of your budget and how many guests you want to share the day with you. (I told you that the where, who and how much elements would come in to play.) And have an idea of when you want it to take place too. See my top tips below to give you an idea of some other factors to help you decide the place where you’ll say ‘I do’.
Nowadays, the world is pretty much your oyster in terms of options available. If you’ve seen ‘Don’t Tell the Bride’, you’ll realise that you can get married in all types of places!
1.Where in the world
Maybe you don’t fancy risking the British weather and want to get married outside of the UK, to jet off or elope. Destination weddings are certainly an attractive proposition and usually mean that all the details get handled for you by the hotel where you are staying. Plus you get your honeymoon and wedding all rolled in to one.
However, it’s worth considering that going abroad could limit who can come to the wedding (here’s the trinity coming in to play again) as not everyone will be able to afford to attend or elderly relatives may not be well enough to travel. Plus, just remember that whoever does come will be with you for your honeymoon too! Guests would have to factor in more time to attend the wedding, so the time of year that you have your wedding may also affect whether they could come.
Before booking your tickets, you should also check the legalities of your chosen country as it may be more hassle than it’s worth to be legally wed in that country (translating of documents, time and effort etc) so you may chose to do the legal bit at home before or after the glamourous beach part. (Don’t forget to make sure your passport matches the name you are travelling under – it might be best to travel under your maiden name unless there is time to get your passport changed before you travel. (See my checklist of other documents and organisations to tell about your change of name.)
2.Pinpoint the location
Once you’ve decided on whether you’re getting married home or abroad, then you need to narrow down the location and think about:
- Which country?
- Which region?
- Which town?
- Will it be in or out of town?
- Would the venue be easy to find?
All these factors will impact on travel costs and timings. Guests will need to consider whether they need to factor in overnight accommodation as well. Plus if your wedding is not near where you live you may not be able to visit the venue many times before the big day or meet with suppliers face to face to view products in advance.
Think about how far away the ceremony venue is from the reception venue in terms of distance but also timings. Depending on what time of day you’re getting married it may conflict with rush hour or school runs that could affect traffic and people travelling between locations.
Wherever you get married, if you are having a Church of England wedding ceremony, your Banns (an announcement of your intention to marry) need to be read in the parish where each of you lives as well as the church where you will be getting married (if this is somewhere different). So if you plan to attend the reading of your Banns, it might be harder if you have to travel far.
What kind of day do you want? Perhaps you’ve already got your Pinterest boards at the ready (goodness knows how we ever planned anything before Pinterest!) If not, how do you envisage your wedding day? The style of wedding that you want will influence the venue you choose so think about whether you want something that is:
- All in one venue?
- Big or small?
- Relaxed or formal?
- Inside or outside?
- Urban or rural or coastal?
- Unique or package?
- Adults only or child friendly?
- Organised for you or somewhere you can bring together your own group of suppliers?
- What kind of theme do you want?
- Country garden
- etc etc
You could have a religious or civil ceremony, or perhaps have a blessing in an amazing off-the-beaten track location and do the legal bit at another time. According to the Citizens Advice Bureau in the UK, at the moment you can legally get married in the following places:
- a Register Office
- premises approved by the local authority such as a hotel
- a church of the Church of England, Church in Wales, Church of Ireland, Presbyterian or Roman Catholic Church in N. Ireland (opposite sex couples only)
- a synagogue or any other private place if both partners are Jewish
- a Meeting House if one or both partners are either members of the Society of Friends (Quakers) or are associated with the Society by attending meetings
- any registered religious building (England and Wales only)
- the home of one of the partners if the partner is housebound or detained, for example, in prison
- a place where one partner is seriously ill and not expected to recover, for example, in hospital
- a licensed naval, military or air force chapel
In addition, owners of premises that are regularly open to the public (ie stately homes, hotels and civic buildings) can apply to hold civil marriages. Generally these places need to be in a permanent built structure and not an open air venue. So it’s worth checking with your dream venue to check if you could get legally married there.
5.Location, location, location
Whether you’re having a one-stop venue, or having the legal part somewhere else, you’ll want to have somewhere you can relax, eat and have fun with your guests after the ceremony. There are lots of different types of venues to chose from for your wedding reception including:
- Historic venues
- Landmark venues
- Marquee style – see my guide to a tipi wedding
- Own home
- Sporting venues
- Stately home
How far in advance you’re planning might open up more possibilities and how much you have to spend will offer different options. Plus the number of guests will complete the trinity of factors that will influence where you pick.
See my list of Top 20 venues in and around Oxfordshire and the Cotswolds for some local venue inspiration.
6.Size does matter
With your trusty (and let’s be honest probably controversial and stress inducing) guest list at the ready, you’ll be able to determine what size of venue you need. Other things to think about with your guests include:
- Will you be feeding all the guests?
- Will it be a sit down meal or buffet? (If you want to all be sat around tables that could change the number of people you can fit in a room versus if people are stood mingling around.)
- Will you be having all the guests for the whole day? Or will you have some for the meal and some will come in addition later for the evening?
The size of the venue will influence how many guests you can invite but you could increase the numbers by having an evening section that doesn’t require everyone to be sat down to eat.
7.Icing on the cake
So what’s really important to you? What are the things you won’t compromise on – those things that your wedding venue must have to make your wedding perfect?
- Do you require parking? How much parking is required?
- What facilities are important to you?
- Do you need disabled access?
- How many rooms will you need?
- What size of rooms are available?
- Are there separate rooms for getting ready beforehand?
- Is there a space for children or for elderly to escape the main area?
- Will yours be the only wedding at that venue on the day?
- Is there accommodation at the venue?
What facilities or factors are on your non-negotiable list?
8.The fine detail
They’re probably not deal breakers, but there may be a few minor points that could sway your decision or would give a different day depending on the decisions by individual venues about their policies on:
- Music switch off time
- Enough power
- Use of your own suppliers
- License for alcohol
Picking your venue may be time consuming but the effort will be worth it as the venue is probably the most expensive element of the day, so you want it to be right. Once you’ve sorted the venue (and set the date) then you can start planning all the other finer details. With the who, where and how much at the fore front of your mind, everything else can fall in to place.
More about the money side of things soon in the last element of the holy trinity of wedding planning: how much.