As a wedding photographer I have spent lots of time visiting and photographing all sorts of different venues across Devon and the whole of the South West. From traditional country manor houses to untraditional woodland tree houses! I love to see how the venues I go to are transformed to reflect each couple that I am photographing.
Looking for your venue is often the first big step in wedding planning, it will determine your wedding date and also perhaps the style of wedding that you will hold. It also makes your wedding a whole lot more real and set in stone. I've put together my 5 tips on finding your dream venue to help make your life a little bit easier at the beginning of your wedding planning journey.
1. Visualise your day
There are so many different types of wedding venues you may wonder, where do I even start? If you are unsure of where you'd like to get married, why not first think about how you would like your wedding day to feel.
Is it going to be a classic traditional, black tie affair, with lots of guests? An untraditional, low key and relaxed wedding? Or do you even like the idea of eloping somewhere, like your favourite spot on the cliff by the sea? The size and style of your wedding may effect where you choose to get married. It's good to also think of your personalities and how to incorporate this into your decision. How will your wedding venue reflect you as a couple?
2. Know your budget
Your venue will most likely take up the biggest portion of your wedding budget. It's good to sit down and decide in advance how much you are prepared to spend on it and also find out what exactly is included in what you are paying for. Think about any additional costs that could arise and increase that figure. For example, will you also need to hire a marquee? Will there be furniture or chair hire? How much will you be paying for additional guests? It's a good idea to write all of these things down and look at what a venue includes in their packages. Ask the venues co-ordinator when you enquire or go to look around.
3. Remember, there are no rules
Well, there are just a few rules. Such as, if you want to be legally married in front of your family and friends, wherever you choose will need to be licensed to hold weddings. In the UK, you also have to be undercover when you are married, this could mean either inside, or outside in a gazebo or under some sort of structure with a roof.
However, if you have your heart set on getting married somewhere completely remote or different, you can opt to have a celebrant hold a non legally binding wedding ceremony and then do the legal side of things between just the two of you at your local registry office. Remember to do lots of research when getting married at an unlicensed venue, like whether you need to get in touch with the council or land owner before making any official plans.
4. Is it easy to get to?
Think about whether you would like to have the whole day at the one venue. On the one hand, this can be great as it cuts out any travel times between locations or worries about your guests getting stuck in traffic delaying your schedule. However, it may be really important to you that you get married in that little church in your home village or to get ready in your family home. If you are switching between venues on the day, think about how easy it is to get from one to the other and how to make this as simple as possible for your guests on the day.
If your family or guests are having to travel far for your wedding, perhaps consider hiring out the venue for the whole weekend or block booking accommodation in advance. Can your venue cater for your wedding party overnight? Or is there somewhere nearby that can?
5. Do I love Plan B as much as Plan A?
When you find the venue that you think may be the one, why not stop and ask yourself: will I be happy getting married here even if it doesn't go exactly as I imagine? For example, if you have your heart set on an outdoor ceremony, will you be just as happy with plan B if it rains? Or if some areas of the venue are restricted or off limits will this impact your day at all? The chances are that you wedding will be even better than you could ever have imagined, but there are various reasons why the day may go a little differently to how you planned.
I hope you found this post helpful in your own search for a wedding venue! To read in more detail about some of my recommended venues in the South West, head on over here