Choosing your wedding venue is insanely exciting! It’s the first big decision you’ll make as part of your wedding planning journey. There are loads of things to think about when you’re comparing potential wedding venues: the style, the location, the cost, the capacity…and most importantly if they make you go all gooey and fuzzy hearted.
You’ll find yourself comparing the pros and cons of each venue instinctively, but it’s easy to forget some of the finer details when you compare the biggy – the cost. The term ‘venue hire fee’ means something completely different for every wedding venue: it’s certainly not a universal language.
What you see on images or a tour of the venue isn’t always what you get within the brochure price. It’s so important to clarify exactly what’s included in the venue fee and what is available at an additional cost when you’re comparing quotes.
Deciding on the perfect setting for your wedding day isn’t all about the money. There may be some venue rules or restrictions which seem fine on the surface, but deserve proper consideration. How might they impact your day? There may be questions you haven’t thought to ask, so we’ve thought of them for you. Have a nose at these 10 questions to help you choose your perfect wedding venue.
1. “What’s Included In The Venue Hire Cost?”
Venue hire fees are rarely like for like. Understanding what’s included in the standard fee and what’s classed as an upgrade or an extra is really important when you’re comparing quotes. You know that upgrading to mum-pleasing menu choices or choosing a more substantial drinks package will cost you extra, but venues sometimes charge more for things that might surprise you (and have the potential to whip the chair from underneath you and your wedding budget).
Don’t be shy about delving into the nitty-gritty of what is and isn’t included in the ‘from’ fee when you’re comparing venue costs. Your venue will most likely be the biggest price tag of your wedding spend, so you should be absolutely clear on what’s included. Don’t feel awkward about asking lots of questions. Here are some of the most common unexpected costs to ask about:
It’s my cake and I’ll eat it if I want to. Errrm, or maybe not. Whilst you might be providing your own wedding cake, some venues may charge to cut it and serve it to your wedding guests.
Lighting Of Candles
A charge may be applied if you wish to light candles as part of your wedding decor even if you provide them. Due to health and safety policies, you probably won’t have the option to light them yourself and avoid the additional expense.
Use Of Cutlery
I guess you could just shovel in your soufflé hungry-toddler style, but if you do wish to use their cutlery, some venues will expect you to fork out for forks.
Use Of Chairs
Venues can charge additional for the use of their chairs which might come as a bit of a shock. They may also charge additional for their seating to be moved to and from outdoor ceremony areas.
When you view a venue the chances are it’s been dressed to impress, but how much of that décor is actually included in the venue hire fee as opposed to an optional extra? If you adore the greenery and fairy lights draping the bannisters, then ask if they are included. Don’t assume that they are.
2. “Does That Include VAT?”
A simple yet classic blunder! We assume we know the answer, but some venues advertise including VAT and some excluding VAT. Be sure you are comparing like for like and clarify this quickly. VAT can make a big old difference.
Image with thanks to Daisybell Photography
3. “Can We Choose Our Own Suppliers?”
Choosing certain venues may limit your options moving forward. Your wedding venue is usually the first thing on your list to secure and it can be easy to want to tick the task of securing your venue off your list and then start to think about your other wedding suppliers. Some venues don’t allow certain external suppliers such as caterers or wedding bands.
If you’re happy to have your venue take charge and organize everything for you then choosing one you love with provisions you love will be perfect. If you want to build your own unique experience and have the freedom to incorporate your own ideas, then you’ll need to clarify with your venue that you can introduce external suppliers. You don’t want to stumble across a converted VW champagne bar that has you drooling like a bubbly-smitten kitten, just to find that mobile catering is actually a no go at your venue. Gutted.
Ask your venue if you can choose all of your own wedding suppliers. Some venues will have a list of approved suppliers they allow you to choose from, some will insist they supply certain things themselves, and others will welcome any external suppliers you wish to use.
Most venues will want to see the insurance documents of external suppliers working onsite, so be sure your chosen businesses have up to date PLI (Public Liability Insurance) and ask your venue if they have any specific requirements of vendors.
4. “What Can’t We Do?”
Each venue will have unique restrictions, so be open and honest about your plans with your venue before accepting a quote. If you have your heart set on a live band or a showstopper of a firework display, venues in built-up areas or with neighbours in close proximity may not be able to allow this.
Perhaps having your beloved pups, Rex and Ruby, by your side on your big day is non-negotiable, and their website says that they are a pet-friendly venue. Yay! Clarify pronto that your family pets are in fact fully grown Dobermans, so there are no surprises when you work out that they only welcome one small dog who must stay outdoors.
Image with thanks to The Venue At Kersey Mill, Suffolk
5. “What’s Your Accessibility Like?”
It’s important to really question the term ‘accessible’ if it’s going to matter for you or one of your wedding guests. Whilst a venue may list as being accessible, what does this really mean? What areas of the venue does this apply to? Is the whole building accessible, or just the ground floor? Would certain guests be left out of experiences if you decided to use certain areas of the building or grounds?
There may well be disabled facilities, but will they be suitable for your guests? Do you need hoists or more specific equipment? If you do have a guest who will need additional support on the day then chat facilities through before committing to a venue.
6. “Who Will Coordinate Our Day?”
Ask about who will run the day for you. Find out who will keep an eye on times, coordinate room changeovers, usher guests in for your first dance and let them know when the hog roast is ready. Will a member of the team act as a concierge and help guests in need and announce your entrance to the wedding breakfast?
Some wedding venues instinctively step up to the mark to help your day run like clockwork whereas some will be room hire only and you’ll need to recruit your own toastmaster, team of helpers, and someone confident (and sober) enough to manage your schedule and your guests. If you decide to hire a wedding planner, they’ll liaise with your venue and look after all of these details for you so that you and your guests can just chill.
Image with thanks to Bunny Hill Weddings, Yorkshire
7. “Who Will Set Up The Wedding Venue?”
Venue setup is easily overlooked until later in the planning process, but it’s best to ask about this early doors. If the venue doesn’t assist couples with setup, you’ll need to think about who could do that for you on the day. Your helpers would need to arrive early at your venue to beautify your setting – according to your strict instructions, of course. They’ll need time to work their wonders and then get back to their rooms, eat, spruce up, and arrive at your ceremony in time. It could be a very early start to their day.
If your buddies are not what you would class as early birds or lack a creative flair, then recruiting a wedding decor expert could be a great solution. Whilst it would add to your budget, they do a lot more than simply set up on the day – they are creative geniuses! If recruiting a professional or your friends to manage your set up isn’t going to work for you, then make sure you consider this before committing to a wedding venue.
8. “Who’s Responsible For Clearing The Wedding Venue?”
Will your wedding venue expect you and your wedding party to chip in and tidy up on the night or return early the next morning to do so? If so, will that work for you? Knowing your lot, will anyone be fit to function at midnight? Do you feel comfortable dragging your wedding guests from their slumber at 8.00 am, complete with a hangover, to help gather up stray shoes and half-eaten slices of wedding cake?
If you want your guests to focus on nothing but celebrating, then look for a venue that will take on the mammoth clear up job themselves. Find out what time you’ll need to collect all of your décor, gifts and floristry by the next day and if the venue will charge extra for this service. Failing to clarify details like this can lead to last-minute panic and rushing. We want you chilled out, enjoying a brew, and opening your wedding cards the day after your wedding!
Fab getting ready room at Crowcombe Court, Somerset
9. “Can We Get Ready Onsite?”
Your wedding party will soon be asking all about the plans for the morning of your wedding. Where will you both be getting dressed? (…yeah, this is really happening!) Who will be with you? Where will your wedding flowers need to be delivered to?
Certain venues may offer accommodation for the night before your wedding, whilst some may offer a space for you to get ready in the morning without having to stay over. Most couples still choose to spend the night before the wedding apart and often tend to book accommodation, but you don’t have to do this. It’s another wedding tradition that’s stuck around mainly because it’s exciting and romantic – but nothing dreadful is going to happen if you arrive hand in hand for your ceremony and walk up the aisle together. Your day – Your way.
Having the option to arrive early and get ready onsite eliminates those terrifying traffic fears. Onsite facilities for the morning of the wedding mean that your celebration can start first thing with you getting ready with your wedding entourage at your side and the champers flowing silly-early. Clarify your access times, if you can leave the rooms as they are and clear up later and if it will cost you extra.
10. “How Will Room Turnaround Work?”
It’s ideal when a venue has the scope for guests to flow naturally from one part of the celebration to the next without it interrupting their experience. Having separate rooms for the welcome drinks, wedding breakfast, and then the evening celebrations lends itself to the most relaxing of celebrations with all the hard work happening behind closed doors.
Some venues, however, may need your guests to be ushered out after the wedding breakfast whilst the turnaround of the room (aka the table dragging) takes place. Ask how your venue will action this, where your guests will be whilst they’re waiting for the turnaround to be completed, and how long it all takes. What’s the bad weather plan and how quickly can outdoor setups be relocated indoors? Some venues are better equipped to handle subtle turnarounds than others due to the nature of the building. Most great venues have totally mastered this, but ask the question to put your mind at ease.
Yep…questions, questions and more questions. You absolutely should be asking them. This is an uber-important decision you’re about to make! Great wedding venues will not be insulted by a polite grilling. In fact they’ll love having the opportunity to tell you all about how clearly awesome they are. Happy hunting, and we hope you find your perfect wedding venue super soon! Make sure you check out our Wedding Well wedding venues – we’ve found some absolute gems for you!