The Search for the Perfect Wedding Venue Part 1: 10 Tips to Choosing the Right Space

I have officially fallen into wedding planner mode now, as my best friend has come back from her honeymoon and is now my maid of honour! My mother and I are chatting online everyday (she lives in Brunei so its a bit difficult with the time differences to have daily wedding conferences!) and its all systems go. How exciting! We have finally decided to go with the lovely Assembly Rooms in Bath. More on this later of course.

When I started this blog, I added venues on a weekly or even daily basis as I was scouring the internet and the UK for the perfect place to have our ceremony and reception. I’m pretty sure I’ve heard of every single wedding venue in the UK now because I didn’t want to ever feel like we hadn’t considered something or hadn’t discovered something else. The best part of this is we saw some absolutely beautiful places in and outside of London which I now want to have loads of fabulous parties at, the worst part being I became the most indecisive person in the universe. The phrase “It’s just one more venue…” became an everyday thing I said to my fiance, but in the end I feel we made the right and informed choice. The first part of this post is just a general top 10 tips to making your own decision and the second part will be a small feature on some of my favourite spaces. So here is what I’ve learned… (but first of picture of J and I in front of our FAB VENUE!)

1. Make sure to visit the venue
I know this sounds a bit silly, but I’ve lost count of the people who have said they went to venues and the space looked nothing like the images they were sent by coordinators. You have to see it in person! Wedding venue websites are not so super. The photos are small and sometimes skewed, and you rarely get an idea of what the space is like. Also, you might see a venue that doesn’t have great photos, but in person, its amazing! Don’t rely too much on what you see in the brochures and make sure to see for yourself. Take the time to schedule appointments (early!) and go! It’s worth it. And fun. And romantic. We visited Bath twice, once to see the venue, and once to get a better feel for the area, go to restaurants etc. We’re going again in the next month.

2. Check the fine print.
OMG check it five times over. I have recently heard from a friend about a venue in London that charged £1000 for heating! It was in the fine print. I think thats pretty crazy, but you can’t argue costs once the contract has been signed, so make sure you check everything over. Also, every venue charges in a different way – ie. some include caterers that you have to use, while others might have a higher room / space rental, but you can choose your own suppliers which might allow you to save. While initially, one venue might seem way more expensive than another, if you compare the two (or more) the hidden and not so hidden costs might come out closer than you think.

3. Focus on the Big Picture
Sometimes a venue had some really awesome detailing, like a gorgeous reception area, or an amazing exterior that really got me excited. Each time I thought for sure, if everyone in the wedding could just spend some time in this one particular room / space, they would be just as excited as I was. The truth is, you can’t control where people look and where they go, so you have to be happy with the entire space, not just the fancy fireplace in the far left hand side of the room. It is better to choose a place you love as a whole, than one for a detail some people might not see. This was one of the hardest parts for me.

4. See as many venues as you need to, but know when to stop.
Another hard one for me. Especially with this blog! I saw the Bath Assembly Rooms first out of all our venues and something inside told me it was the right one but I was really nervous about making a decision without seeing more spaces. So we saw loads more and I kept changing my mind. I have envisioned so many different weddings in different places these past few months I got to a point where I had absolutely no idea what I wanted anymore. We made lists (thanks to some fab ladies on Twitter) and we made spreadsheets and we made mood boards. These helped and we finally made the decision. Every now and then I get an itch to go an see another space for “research” purposes, but have held back. Once you’ve made your choice, move on. There are so many other things you need to think of now!

5. Ask people for help and talk about it.
As the venue decision is primarily the bride and groom’s, with the help of family members etc. I got the impression you didn’t really want to talk things over with others. Thats so wrong. I’m not sure why I felt that way, but the minute I began to talk to others about the pros and cons, the details, the overall feelings I was having, the better I felt. I talked to my cat, I talked to taxi drivers, I talked to myself in the shower. I was a pretty nervous bride when it came to making the decision and talking things out, and hearing people’s advice made me more confident in my choice. In the end, people are not nearly as hung up on the venue as you are. In fact, there are going to be people (SOB!) who don’t even notice it. But the good thing is, they are excited for you and your fiance. They are there to celebrate you, and the venue, although it is an extremely integral part of the wedding, is only the first of many things that will contribute to your special day.

6. Don’t be afraid to think outside the box.
Some of the best weddings I have seen have been in the least traditional wedding spaces. Couples are always trying to find ways to put their personal touches on their special day, so don’t be afraid to take a chance. There is no right way to do a ceremony or reception, so spend some time on wedding blogs and see what suits your personality. This wedding is for you and your family, not for everyone else expectations.

7. Think Transport Logistics
This is a bit of a boring one, BUT, still important. How are people going to get to your venue, and if your ceremony and reception are in different places, how do you transfer people. If there is drinking, there shouldn’t be driving, so do you organise buses, taxis, can people walk etc. I have not yet looked into this as I think we’re going to have everything in one place, but have heard some tales of pretty expensive transport costs – don’t forget these!

8. Find out about any restrictions ASAP
One of my favourite venues had loads of restrictions due to the restoration work that had recently been done. The good thing was that it was in amazing condition. The bad thing was a lot of stuff could not be touched, but could not be moved, people were not allowed to have dark coloured drinks after dinner (ie. no red wine, coke etc.) and although it was absolutely beautiful, I was not ready to deal with all of those extra rules. Make sure you know what you’re getting yourself into, and if you’re happy with the rules, go for it. Surprises later are no fun.

9. Consult your fiance.
OF COURSE we did this on a regular basis, but my fiance really wanted a wedding outside of London. I found LOADS of beautiful London based venues, and fell in love with quite a few, but none as much as the Assembly Rooms. J felt the same and while he is happy for me to make most of the decorative / aesthetic decisions, he did really want a say in the venue, and he was right. It feels much better to make the decision together and we’re both really happy.

10. Get Excited!
OMG you have a venue! Tell everyone and start planning! Thats what I’m doing 🙂

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