Alice and I have surely visited more than the average couple’s number of wedding venues. Through building the company and shooting weddings this has given us a relative idea of which locations we did like. Unfortunately, while visiting these venues for work we were not there to find out about price or any other logistics, so quickly all of our so called ‘research’ fell apart.
I know this blog is being read by a lot of our family, unable to be kept on the pulse of all of our wedding plans but it’s also hopefully being read by other newly engaged couples and as such I’d like to offer a little advice as well as our own musings.
Picking your wedding venue is hard. Obviously this choice will embody the vast majority of your wedding planning. It will affect the number of guests you can have, their likelihood of staying throughout the night, it will affect many of the logistics - travel, accommodation, as well as the quality of the food, available dates and of course, high on our priority list, the aesthetics of the wedding photos.
As I don’t want to ramble on too much about balancing the decision on price, location, capacity, service, facilities etc as these are so unique to each couple; I will simply offer a little insight from our own experiences.
- Always ensure that you get an approximate idea of price (considering the day of the week, approximate number of guests and time of year you intend to wed) before you visit. There is no point visiting a venue that is within your budget on a Tuesday in Winter for 30 people when you intend to get married at the weekend in Summer with over 100 people!
- Meet the venues wedding coordinator - this person will be your fairy god mother if you can get them on your side, they can do wonderful things to assist you in your planning. They may also be the person that helps you get a package that is just over budget to fall just under.
- Check for restrictions - is there anything that you desperately want included in your wedding that the venue may not allow. Alice and I found that many venues don’t allow Chinese lanterns due to environmental issues and fire risks.
- Think about accommodation - we have guests potentially coming from as far and wide as Hong Kong and California, though the main consideration for this was local guests. If you want your guests to have fun without the concerns of having to get taxis home, make sure the venue or a hotel nearby has potential accommodation for all. It’s ok to expect guests to pay for their own hotel room.
- Visit and revisit the venue. You need to be sure, as I mentioned before the venue is a really big decision as it will house all of your other wedding plans.
- And as a last piece of advice, possibly the most important - don’t be afraid to ask whether you’re getting ‘the best price possible’. There are many things that the venue may be able to do to reduce the cost of your wedding through simple reductions or replacements however most typically they are looking to secure a booking and will often just offer a discount to get you to book quickly; especially if you’re willing to consider marrying on any other day than a Saturday at the height of Summer.
Alice and I really wanted our venue to have a feel of the countryside, be easily accessible for local friends, have plenty of accommodation for those travelling or likely drinking too much and have a warm, relaxing and elegant feel for, of course, the oh so important wedding photos.
We had a reasonable budget and there were several options available to us which we short listed but it kept coming back to one venue. One that, we had shot at before. One that - during the decision process - we visited several times to meet with new couples also choosing their venue. One that seemed to meet all of our parameters of in touch with the surroundings, exceptionally beautiful and within budget.
It was Ringwood Hall that we felt offered all of the features that we wanted and our previous experiences with the staff and venue collectively had always been so positive. The wedding coordinators had been incredibly helpful at every turn and the more and more we saw of their new marquee and garden wedding set up, the more we fell in love with it
So, we will marry in the grounds of grade 11 listed Georgian building under a floral dressed gazebo overlooking rolling hills of the beautiful Derbyshire countryside. Alice will approach through the dressed gardens and down a red carpeted aisle amongst friends and family to become forever Mrs Elizabeth Alice Harris.
Friends and family will then join us in the garden marquee for a beautiful evening of fun and games, drink and dancing as we begin our newly wed lives together.
Invitations and save the date cards will be sent out soon, I hope all invited will be able to come.