Newly engaged and feeling overwhelmed and/or confused? I'm here to help! I know everyone says that one of the first things you should do when wedding planning is book your venue. I actually think there's a few things you should do before that! So here are five things you should do before you rush off and book your venue.
Enjoy being engaged
I know, you're getting married and you can't WAIT to get started with wedding planning! But do try and enjoy being newly engaged for at least a week before you dive headfirst into venue visits, Pinterest boards and wedding dress shopping. When your partner proposed, they probably weren't expecting you to go into full on wedding planning mode immediately. So relax, have another glass or two of champagne and enjoy celebrating with your loved ones.
Set your budget
Before you go venue hunting, you need to know what your budget is! Who is contributing, and how much? At this stage you don't need a detailed budget but you do need a good idea of what your maximum total budget is. For help prioritising your budget, click here. You don't want to go and fall in love with a venue, then realise it's completely out of reach in terms of price. Venue prices range wildly from £2,000 to £10,000, and thats without factoring in food and drink. It's also important to note here that not all venues include the same things in their hire price. For example, some include furniture, table linen, cutlery, glassware etc, others do not. Some venues have low hire prices but insist you use their caterers and bar, which can add thousands to your overall bill. As a general rule, venue hire, catering costs and any drinks you are providing should be around 40% of your overall budget, so keep that in mind when comparing venue prices. It can work out cheaper to book a more expensive venue that allows outside caterers than to book a cheaper venue that insists on in-house catering.
Decide on a few possible dates
If you're looking to get married during a popular month like August, it really helps if you have a little flexibility with your dates. If you're only open to one date, you're unlikely to find that all the venues you like have availability. I always recommend that my couples have at least two or three dates as options so they can maximise their chances of booking their dream venue.
Decide on your wedding aesthetic
You don't need to have your theme completely nailed down, but it is important to have an idea of what you want your overall aesthetic to be. Do you want a rustic, country feel, or slick, contemporary vibes? There's nothing worse than seeing couples book a venue, and then spend lots of money changing the feel of it because it doesn't actually fit with their aesthetic. This will also help you narrow down the list of potential venues. If you know that you want a cool, industrial venue, you can skip all the stately homes and save yourself a lot of time.
Write a rough guest list
This is so important! Until you have an idea of what your guest list will look like, you're not ready to start looking at venues. The size of venue you need is dictated by your guest list, and larger venues typically (not always) command a higher venue hire price. Just like venue price, venue capacity varies wildly, and you don't want to fall in love with a venue and then find it can't accommodate your guest list.
Decide on your non-negotiable's
What are the things your venue MUST provide? This will be different for every couple, but it is really helpful to know what your venue non-negotiable's are. Some things that clients of mine have prioritised include: no corkage, onsite accommodation, exclusive use, multi-day hire, a late licence, and allowing outside catering. Again, knowing what your non-negotiable's are will allow you to narrow the pool of potential venues to a sensible number so you're not spending hours and hours visiting venues only to find out that they're totally unsuitable.
I hope these help, happy venue hunting!