Captain Obvious: choosing a wedding venue is one of the most important steps in planning your wedding. It’s typically the thing that shapes the rest of the day – what vendors you’ll work with, how you’ll style the venue, if you need accommodation, so on.
Choosing a wedding venue is awesome. You get to look at all these incredible spaces and decide which one you’d like to party in with all of your friends and family. We’re probably biased, but we’d say it’s the most inspiring part of the wedding planning, and the part that will get your creative juices firing.
Before you read on, we’d just like to preface by saying that we intend to simply provide some helpful pointers and things to think about before you go and view a venue – we by no means think you need arrive with a clipboard and pen, ready to interrogate every last ounce of info out of the poor, unsuspecting owner.
If you simply rock up at a venue for a viewing without giving it a seconds-thought beforehand – no worries. We’re not here to make you feel guilty. But by being a little prepared before you arrive at your venue viewing, you save yourself and the venue owner time later, as you’ll have asked all the important questions.
Here’s our guide to getting the most out of your venue viewing.
BEFORE YOU GO
- Work out your rough guest numbers to make sure the venue can accommodate your party
- Pick some dates/a month you’d be happy to get married over and check availability with the venue
- Have a rough idea how much you can afford to spend for the wedding, and whether the venue is in your price bracket. Be aware that while some venues may appear more expensive on paper, the price might include items like tables and chairs which can be expensive to hire – so it’s about weighing up the difference
- Check if accommodation is included in the price. If not, do some research into the local area and check out the options nearby
- Look online at as many previous weddings held at the property to give yourself inspiration and a good understanding of the venue before you even arrive. A simple ‘[venue name] + wedding’ in Google should be enough to bring up previous weddings featured on blogs or photographer’s websites
AT THE VIEWING
- Take heaps of photos – I sure wouldn’t be trusting my imagination to remember everything
- Are you having the reception and the ceremony on site? Check the distance between both points on the property and consider the oldies – if it’s a fair distance or a bit bumpy, it might be worth making sure a car can help them from point A to B.
- Look for the power sources as this might help you plan your set-up. For example, you probably don’t want to set up the tables in front of the only major powerpoint so that people are having to step over cables
- Check for rigging points. If you want to hang lights or do a hanging floral suspension for example, chat to the venue owner about how this works
- Make a rough venue plan – either mentally or sketch it on paper so you can refer back to it. After seeing a few venues, the point of access/ fence line/entryway to the kitchen etc. might become fuzzy in your memory.
- Think about your entrance. Are you turning up in a fancy car? How is the drive? Where will you get dropped off?
- Consider any must-haves that you already had in mind and visualise them at this place. Know you want lawn games? Figure out where you they’ll go. Want fireworks? Ask the owner. Want a huge dancefloor? Check the space.
- Will we need to bring our own sound system?
- Is there space for the bridal party to get ready?
- Can we bring our own booze?
- How many cars can park?
- What does the fee include or not include (e.g. does it include tables and chairs, glassware, tableware, etc or just the venue itself)?
- When can we start setting the place up?
- Can we move things around? What needs to stay in it’s place?
- Can we drop stuff off in the days leading up to the wedding?
- What’s the curfew?
- When do we need to pack down?
- Will there be someone here on the day? What happens if something goes wrong?
- Can we have candles (some venues don’t allow open flame)?
- Can we throw confetti?
- How much accommodation is nearby? Do you have any partnerships with any accommodation providers where we get a discount?
- What do you suggest in the event of bad weather?
- Do you have in-house catering or preferred caterers, or can I bring my own?
- What are the facilities for the caterer?
- Do you find that caterers need to bring in anything extra (e.g. heating oven, extra refrigeration etc.)
- Is there a fire pit? Do we need to BYO wood?
- Is the venue handicap accessible (if you have any guests with mobility needs)
- What happens with rubbish? Do you remove or do we? Do you have recycling?
AFTER THE VIEWING
- Look into the logistics. Give a local bus company/taxi company a call and suss out how they can help transport guests
- If you know that you’re definitely going to book the venue, consider reserving accommodation nearby for guests, particularly if you’re doing the deed on a public holiday or popular month
- Look at the weather. What time of the year does the sun set? How much rain is likely to fall at this time of year (the Bureau of Meteorology can help here)? Do I need to have some contingency budget to hire a marquee last minute if there’s no wet-weather option on site?
- Check out the local vendors. Is there a decent florist nearby? How many celebrants are around? Are they free on the date you’re considering? Of course if you can’t find a local offering that you like, most wedding vendors are willing to travel but just factor travel costs into your budget
- Last but not least, repeat all of the above with any other venues you’re considering and then make your final decision. Yes, it’s a bit of a process but the venue decision is a biggie, so you want to feel very happy with your choice.
A final note:
Even the blankest of canvases can be turned into the most spectacular wedding venue. One of us got married in a hayshed and the only facility there was a tap. That’s it. Everything else had to be brought in – all electrics, catering stuff, loos, flooring, etc etc. Yes, it was more work but it meant we could shape our day exactly the way we wanted it. Anything is possible if you surround yourself with capable people and professionals.
Excited? You should be – you’re about to find the space where you’ll hold the biggest damn shindig of your life! Start searching for your venue now!