Congratulations, you’re engaged! Now every organisational skill you have ever acquired will need to be put to good use. Luckily the biggest decision has been made, (you have found the perfect person to marry) the next big step is to find a venue, and for many this is not an easy feat.
Over the years of planning weddings for various budgets these are my top questions that I ask every venue that I visit…
1. How many weddings can you hold on a weekend?
This is always my first question, and for most it is an unusual one. My main concern if there are multiple weddings at a weekend is how is everything cleaned and re-set for the next day? When is Saturday’s couple allowed to come to the venue and deliver any extra decorations they may wish to add? How long is there between one couple leaving and another arriving? Now, don’t get me wrong, lots of venues manage to do this in a slick and professional manner, however, this is your big day and you shouldn’t have to feel like any aspect of it is shared. This question is also particularly important to ask if you are making/crafting a lot of your decorations yourself.
2. What areas on site are ours to use?
You think you have found your perfect venue, then you get informed that the place that is divine for drinks and canapes is actually open to the public until 6pm. Or that a particular room is yours, but the rest of the site is open to visitors at all times. For some people, this isn’t a huge problem, but to be forewarned is forearmed. Falling in love with a venue to then find out your dream location on site isn’t available to hire for the whole day is heart-breaking. Personally, I feel that an exclusive site or venue works best as it makes it more personal. Particularly if you have hired a stately home, it’s nice to think it’s just yours for the day!
3. Are there any décor restrictions?
A wedding dream filled with hundreds of white candles and fantastic candelabras can come crashing down if naked flames are restricted on site. Although it’s great to be flexible with your decoration ideas if your heart is really set on something in particular it is good to ask the venue as early as possible. Most venues will be really helpful and suggest how you could make this work, if it’s possible at all.
Always be wary if a venue says no immediately, a valid reason is fine, but a straight no with no explanation at all can ring alarm bells for how the site in general works.
4. How many guests are we allowed?
This may be an easy question if you are hiring a room in a hotel for example. However, if you have a venue where there are lots of different options for celebrations on site, it’s a really good idea to get the venue to slowly talk you through these. If the garden has a capacity in its thousands but the one option if it rains is a room that can squish 45 in standing, then a balance will need to be struck with how many guests are invited.
Many venues have different capacities for spaces on site, ask them how these work in every instance. Where do people have drinks and canapés if it rains? If they have to go straight into the room where the wedding breakfast is being held, is there space for them to stand or will they need to be sat down early? Are parts of the site closed at different times in the day?
Also, if you have exclusive use of the wedding venue, it’s always a good idea to close some of the options off later in the evening to keep guests together, which always helps with the feel of a party.
5. Who from the venue will be on site for the big day?
If a venue has multiple staff members who run events, make sure you have met the person who will be in charge on the day. Don’t meet them on the week in the run up to the wedding, take the time to sit and have a coffee with them. Talk them through your day, explain the things that are most important to you both and how you see the day going. They should be more than happy to do this for you and may also be able to suggest additional things that make your day even better. Ask them what has worked really well on site before, or something that they feel sometimes couples miss, they should be a font of knowledge for weddings at your venue.
Lastly, see as many venues as possible. Wedding venue hunting is like buying a house, you need to see exactly what works and what doesn’t for you both. Ask the same questions at every venue as you never know, they may surprise you and get in touch with Bayley if you are looking for a wedding planner to assist with your plans and management of the day. 01865 818166
For a truly magical wedding venue in Oxfordshire, be sure to check out our exclusive venue at Kingston Bagpuize House
and take a look through my portfolio to get some really great wedding decoration and colour theme inspiration from our 'real life' brides.