From churches to hotels, castles to country houses, marquees to barns – it can be a struggle to find your perfect wedding venue.

For some couples, choosing their wedding venue is an easy task, it could be somewhere meaningful to them, a favourite place or where they got engaged.  For others, it is an overwhelming task with so many different options it can be hard to know where to even begin.

Here are some of my top tips of things to consider when choosing your wedding venue:

Number of guests
This is such an important factor to consider when looking for your venue, and is often casually approached.  Your venue needs to be the right size to fit your number of guests.  Every venue you look at will have a maximum capacity for the number of people it can hold.  This is for health and safety to ensure emergency exists are clear and that there is enough space for people to circulate around the venue/site.  It is important that you do not assume that if the maximum capacity of your venue is 180, that you can have 200 people – the venue will cap your numbers on the capacity of the venue spaces you are using.  On a more practical level, if your space is small and you are trying to cram a lot of people in the space, your guests will be cramped and uncomfortable.  If your space is too large, your guests will rattle around and you’ll lose the atmosphere of the space.  Before you start looking at venues, work out the rough number of expected wedding guests, don’t forget to include yourselves, bridal party and family!

Holland Park Orangery, Kensington

Location
Something else to think about is the location of your venue. If your venue is isolated with no access via public transport or limited access and parking it can put guests off attending. If you opt to have your ceremony and reception in different locations, make sure there is a provision for transport for your guests if the venues aren’t close to each other. Keep in mind your timings for the day too – if your ceremony and reception sites are more than 2 hours apart, travel time will eat into your schedule for the day. There is also the possibility you will lose guests after the ceremony if they have to travel a far distance for the reception, and you don’t want this to happen if you’ve included them in your catering numbers and paid for them. Also consider accessibility, if you have any guests that use a wheelchair or other walking aids make sure the ceremony and reception venues are easy for them to access too. If you want to offer guests accommodation, make sure there are hotels or accommodation options nearby your reception venue, if there isn’t accommodation already at your venue.

Kenwood Inn, Sonoma, California

Budget
Really consider your budget and if the venue is affordable. Take into account venue hire, food and beverage costs, staffing costs, décor hire, furniture hire (if applicable). All these costs add up and if the venue is outside your budget it might be time to rule it out.

Beaverbrook, Leatherhead

Dry Hire vs Full Service
Dry hire refers to only the rooms and venues that are hired. This means that you book the venue only, without catering, furniture, etc – you will need to hire these suppliers separately. Full service is a venue that usually includes the venue hire, furniture, catering, such as a hotel. Some full service venues do allow you to bring in your own caterers if you have specific needs such as kosher or halal, for example, and other suppliers such as DJ, band, florist, décor etc. Bear in mind that if you are using a dry hire venue you will need to bring in everything, as you would with a marquee. This does mean the costs can escalate and can work out more expensive than a full service venue so it is worth keeping that in mind.

Roof Terrace at Ham Yard Hotel, London

Date
If you have a specific date in mind, this is a good starting point to shortlist your venues. If you’re flexible on dates, you will find it easier to find your venue. If you’re set on one particular venue but it’s proving too pricey, consider an off-peak or mid-week wedding date as venues tend to charge cheaper rates for these times

The Langham, London

Venue Style
Think about the type of wedding you want – will it be relaxed, casual, formal, traditional, modern? Once you have worked out the style of wedding you want this will help you shortlist potential wedding venues. If you’re going for a formal, romantic ballroom style wedding, a dry hire space probably wouldn’t work for you. Equally if you’ve decided on a relaxed city chic modern wedding, a barn probably wouldn’t be a good option either. Identify the things you’d like to include into your day and that will help narrow down your list of potential venues

If you’re struggling to find the venue of your dreams, I can help you, along with other areas of your wedding planning. To find out how I can help, discover my services here.

Image credits: Lloyd Dobbie | Lili Durkin