Following on from last weeks post “When Should We Get Married?” this post looks at how to pick a wedding venue. There are two ways to choose a wedding venue; the first is to write down your guest list, then look at wedding venues large enough to accommodate this number. The second way is to look at wedding venues and tailor your guest list numbers accordingly. We opted for the first option as we knew the list would be quite long. In some ways, it made it harder to find a wedding venue, as we knew we would struggle to get the numbers below 120.
We got married in Bristol and there are surprisingly few wedding venues that can accommodate over 100 people in that area. However it made the short list quite…well, short! If you can keep the number of guests below 70 there are far more options available to you.
So what type of wedding venue would you like? Most people either opt for an all-in-one venue or split it between a religious venue or registry office and a reception venue.
Would you like all parts of the day to take place in one venue? If this is your idea, it certainly makes the logistics easier. There are quite a few all-in-one venues these days from grand country houses to barn conversions or boutique hotels. Each offers it’s own unique feel and many provide a combined wedding package which can help to cut the stress of organising, as well as the cost, dramatically.
If you decide on a church or registry office wedding then you will more than likely require an additional venue for the reception. Due to needing a wedding venue to hold a minimum of 120 we decided to hold our ceremony in the Grand Council Chamber of Bristol Registry Office, and we had 150 guests attend.
Once you’ve arranged your ceremony time you can then look for a reception venue. If you are having a morning wedding you will likely need to think about what food you will provide for your guests during the day. Catering can be very important when choosing a reception venue and I discuss more about food in my post Wedding Catering, however one tip is to ask if you have to use the venue’s internal catering service or can you employ outside caterers/cater yourselves.
Cost is also an important factor to consider, and you may find that you need to compromise of a few things to get a wedding venue within your budget. I will also be writing a post about wedding budgets in the coming weeks.
One thing is does the venue have ample parking for our guests? We visited one venue that only had on-road parking and at that time of year got very busy on a Saturday. If it doesn’t, you could arrange for a shuttle bus or coach to take guests from a central parking location to the venue and back again at a specified time.
Think about any special requirements that your wedding venue may need to fulfil. do you need it to be wheelchair accessible in all areas? If you are inviting children, do you want to have a separate area for them to play? Do you want to have an outside space suitable for photographs, mingling or a perhaps to have a bouncy castle? (yes…they are quite popular at weddings!)
For us the evening venue HAD to have a large dance floor. We are ballroom dancers as were approximately 50% of our evening guests. We choose the oval ballroom in the Winter Gardens in Weston-Super-Mare as it has a lovely, large, sprung floor. The venue actually held 600 people, though we only invited 260.
Will your guests require over night accommodation and does the wedding venue provide this? If not are there sufficient hotels or B&B’s in the locality? You and your guests may need to think about staying the night before the wedding as well if you have to travel some distance. If you are setting things up at the wedding venue yourselves then this can make it less stressful. Lots of hotels offer group booking discounts when multiple rooms are block booked, so be sure to ask what they can offer. This usually works by the hotel holding a specified number of rooms until a given date, and your guests can book direct with the hotel and receive the discounted price.
Whatever your requirements, do some research into wedding venues in your chosen area. Ask for recommendations, visit and meet the staff who will help to plan your day, try the food, make sure you are happy with your choice. I wish you good luck in the search for your perfect wedding venue 🙂
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