There are numerous things to take into consideration when looking at various different wedding planning options, particularly when thinking about booking a venue for your wedding reception and ceremony.
Your venue choice is possibly the most important aspect as it also sets the tone for your whole day, from the dress to the photos!
Luckily for you, Poptop have come out on top yet again and created this comprehensive guide covering all aspects: from what you should consider as well to what your venue choices are.
Your venue choices
With so much new wedding inspiration and trends emerging all the time, couples are now spoiled for choice in terms of the type of venue you can hire for weddings – budget dependant of course (don’t worry, there’s more on that later!).
We’ve rounded up what we think are the most popular choices for our blushing brides and gorgeous grooms and given you the complete 411 here.
Countryside Barn Venue
If you’re getting married in the summer or happen to live in a particularly warm part of the UK (…okay, warmish?), a countryside barn wedding might be perfect for you.
Hiring a barn as your wedding venue will be perfect for couples looking for that rustic charm with natural aesthetics and many barn venues can offer extra space for larger partied or perhaps accommodation more often than not with a heavenly countryside backdrop.
- Most barn venues are coupled with breathtaking countryside settings
- Such aesthetics can make for amazing wedding photos
- With a small private venue like a barn, exclusive hire is much more likely to be available
- Good old unreliable British weather could turn your countryside dream into a soggy affair
- There may not be ample amounts of accommodation available for your guests
A Hall or Community Venue
Hiring a private hall or community space is the perfect answer many couples’ venue dilemmas as it can tick many boxes without having any crazy expenses attached.
- A less formal venue can make for a more relaxed and laid back atmosphere
- Hall’s are often booked on a dry hire basis meaning you are free to decorate the space as you like!
- If you’re looking to book a hall or community space then chances are it’s within your local area, making it easier for everybody to find and to arrange transport to and from the evening venue
- There may already be a license in a place that restricts how late into the night you can party
- Depending on the type of hall or space, chances are there will not be an access to a house bar – this will have to be hired separately (available via Poptop!)
A Hotel Package Venue
Hotel weddings are becoming more and more popular due to the all inclusive aspect that is so readily available now.
Hotels have the ability to produce large ‘package weddings’ that can include everything in the room itself, 3-course meal catering, full bar, decorations, and accommodation.
- Every aspect of your wedding is executed professionally and efficiently – without the happy couple having to do everything herself.
- Wedding hotels often have a great reputation for what they do which means you can put your feet up and put your trust in them
- Guest accommodation is almost always available when hiring a hotel for your wedding. It’s very handy when you know you have guests who will be travelling from far away.
- You may find restrictions in terms of using outside caterers or decorators
- Packages take away stress but can be very expensive depending on how much you want to include
A Stately Home or Manor House
Like hotels, hiring a stately home or manor house is an ever-growing popular choice for wedding venues. This will be better suited if you’d prefer a more formal feel to your wedding but perhaps would like more control than a hotel package would offer.
- Hire of this venue type largely translates to exclusive hire, meaning you and your guests are the sole inhabitants of the venue for the day (or night) giving a much more intimate feel
- Restrictions may not be as prohibiting when hiring a private venue (compared to a hotel) as the owners may be much more flexible with the suppliers you want to use and the way you’d like to decorate the venue
- Private venues such as stately homes or manor houses often full of character and beautifully presented – it’ll really give the wow factor for all your guests
- As there could be more to arrange separately, a busy couple may wish to enlist a wedding planner to take some of the pressure off
- Depending on the size of your party, the types of venues may not be ideal. A party too small may mean you don’t receive exclusive use of the venue and a party too big might mean there’s not enough room!
Restaurant or Pub
For the more casual approach to a wedding party, booking a restaurant or a pub could be the perfect answer. It will give a more personal and intimate feel to the atmosphere and although it may be a less traditional option, for the food-loving lovers, it’s venue heaven.
- It’s becoming rather popular to book a restaurant and so different options and availability are becoming more common
- Booking a restaurant for your wedding venue means the food is one worry you can check off your list
- Perfect for smaller weddings that want that intimate feel
- You may find that not all restaurants have enough size to host a traditional wedding party – dance floor or no dance floor?
- Licenses in place could restrict your party from running on too late
It may not be at the top of everybody’s event priorities but for most, the budget drives nearly every decision. If you know that you have a more basic budget in mind for your venue then don’t waste lots of time looking at castles and stately homes. Stay grounded and keep the links between what you’d like to have, and what you can afford to have.
It’s the simplest question to ask, but possibly the hardest to answer:
“What Is Our Wedding Budget?” (although it is much easier to answer with our recent wedding budget article)
As the venue will most likely be one of the biggest costs, it’s better to find and budget in your venue before anything else, that way you’re more likely to not overspend when it comes to everything else.
Each venue type costs a different amount and even then, all costs are specific to each venue. Therefore we’ve collected the average prices of these venue types for you to compare.
Basic prices - These prices cover the basic price for venue hire, often with a very basic food package and with minimal extras. Standard prices - These prices look at more of an average package offered by these venue types - this may include drinks for toasting and a food package. Premium prices - These prices look at the higher end of the scale - packages here often include full meal for guests with a welcome and toasting drink and sometimes even exclusive use of the venue or accommodation.
Prices based on research conducted in the start of 2018
On top of the overall numbers, when you start to visit venues, here are some more questions you should keep in mind when working out if you can afford your dream venue:
- What is the overall venue fee and what is included within this fee:
- Is tax included?
- Does it include extras (e.g tables and chairs)?
- Does this include liability coverage and corkage fee?
- Also relative to this section would be enquiring about whether or not the alcohol license is up to date – this will avoid any possible ‘add-ons’ later on.
- What is not included in the venue fee?
If it’s a venue you’re particularly interested in, we recommend you enquire about the payment, booking and refund policies sooner rather than later, to make sure you’re in the know from early on in the process.
What (Else) to Consider
Okay, so let’s see. You’ve seen the types of venues you can choose and you’ve also learned the rough pricing of those venues, bow you need to consider everything else.
And what help would we be if we didn’t compile everything into an easy-to-digest section right here for you?
Number of Guests
This ties in well when talking about the budget as it has the biggest effect on your costs. Simply, the more people you invite to your wedding, the more expensive it will be. Every person on the list is to be fed, watered and possibly entertained, which all starts to add up very quickly.
It also has a huge effect on the type of venue you can look at. It’s best to have a good idea of how many guests you’d like to invite – even if this is a rough figure (to help you out we prepared these 7 essential tips to make your wedding guest list). The first thing to do would be to ensure that you’re only looking at venues that can comfortably accommodate all of your guests. A handful of guests wandering around the exclusive hire of a stately home would be just as ill-fitting as attempting to house 200 guests into a small church hall.
Hiring part of a hotel or venue can be a good happy medium for those who aren’t inviting too many or too little guests and many people choose to invite Also, keeping on top of ‘save the date’ RSVP’s is a great way to ensure you’re venue planning can go hand in hand with an accurate guest count.
It may seem like a very obvious factor but it’s a good idea to broaden your choices of venue in terms of availability they have to ensure you’re not let down by a venue that is already booked.
If you’re very early on in your planning stages it’s sensible to try and be as flexible as possible with dates. Do you want the reception and party in the same venue? Then you will need to ensure that the venue has availability for both the day and evening. It sounds simple but this is the best way to ensure you’re not limiting your choices early on in the process.
Unfortunately, this is another section that you can’t afford to be too selfish with. Yes, it’s your wedding and ultimately, everything is down to your choice. However, your guests are important too! You need to take them into account when choosing the location of your venue.
Usually, the more convenient the location is, or the closer it is to where the majority of your guests live, the more people will attend. Because of this, things like transportation ease and alcohol consumption need to be taken into consideration here. If you’re looking for a feel-good boozy party for the evening, holding it in a rural location may not be the best thing to do unless you’re also willing to organise transport or accommodation for everyone too – otherwise, the attendance may decrease.
Alternatively, you may decide that a rural location is exactly what you want. If this is the case then guest accommodation is something that needs to be given some serious thought.
Do you want the venue itself to have accommodation or will you look at nearby hotel options for your guests?
If you’re looking at a hotel as a venue, it’s worth counting the price of rooms into your budget plan too.
Things to consider regarding the local amenities:
- Are there local public transit/taxi ranks that are easily accessible for your guests who aren’t driving?
Things to consider when thinking about parking at the venue:
- Does the venue have their own private parking?
- If not, is there nearby parking and is it safe?
- Is this included in the price of the venue?
If you have very elderly or disabled guests attending your wedding, you need to consider their accessibility needs. Are there ramps and elevators to accommodate for these guests?
If you are inviting a number of guests who fall into this category, it may be worth rethinking a venue that has a lot of stairs to climb or awkward accessibility at all. It’ll make the day go a lot smoother for you and them, knowing that your guests are happy and comfortable within your venue.
This mainly concerns things like room capacity of the areas of the venue you’re interested in booking. Not just the main room but the lobby and bar space that would be used by you and your guests. The first thing to arrange is that the space you’re looking into has the capacity to comfortably hold your amount of guests.
Other things to consider when looking at the space include:
- Does the venue have a built-in bar to the area?
- If not is there space to set one up?
Dj & Dancefloor:
- Is there a prearranged space for the dancefloor?
- Is the dancefloor big enough?
- Is there enough space for DJ setup and equipment?
- Is there a sufficient power source nearby?
- Does the venue own its own music equipment?
- Is there a prearranged layout for the tables?
- Is there enough room to comfortably eat all of your guests?
- If having a buffet is there enough room to set this up?
- Is there enough space for the buffet queue to blend into the background?
Now, this may seem like a pretty obvious consideration but it’s always best to have every outcome covered! If you’re planning your wedding for the colder winter months then obvious precautions need to be taken against the weather causing any problems. However, I think we can all agree that in the UK, we can’t be too careful!
Especially when your wedding plan involves some things happening outside, cover options should definitely be discussed, just in case, in the form of marquees or gazebos.
Even if it just means having a few extra umbrellas on hand to transport the beautiful bride from her car to the door – better to be safe than soggy!
When considering how to decorate the space you’ve hired, the first thing to check would be if the venue itself offers any decoration packages, alongside the venue hire. Unless you have a very specific vision in mind, this is a great way to have your wedding beautifully decorated, without having to hire and arrange every element separately.
Because so many venues (especially Hotels) do offer these decoration packages, if you’re NOT looking at this option, you’ll need to check any restrictions you may have with the venue (for example they may not allow you to attach anything to the walls). If you’ll arrange the decorations yourself, you’ll need to know exactly what you can and can’t do.
Similarly to the decor side of things, many venues offer catering packages alongside their venue hire. Some venues may be open to you hiring outside caterers but may have a list of exclusive vendors for you to choose from. Not all venues are happy for outside catering companies to come and work on site so again, this is something you want to enquire about early on so that you can plan accordingly.
Unless you’re having a wedding with over 500 guests or are expecting a particularly rowdy crowd, security measures are not always something that is taken into consideration when planning a wedding. However, it’s good to remember that it is a possibility if you think it’s needed – or if your party will be particularly gate-crashable!
Other important elements not related so security staff could include:
- working fire alarms
- first-aid kits, and power backup
- emergency plan in place
- cell phone reception
Although these days, most venues provide all of these things as a basic requirement, it is always good to be on top of your game when health and safety is concerned.
Exclusive/ Non-Exclusive Hire
Depending on the size of venue that you’re looking at, you may have the option of booking it either exclusively or non-exclusively.
Exclusive venue hire means that you are booking the entire venue and it won’t be open or accessible by people that aren’t venue staff or your guests. Non-exclusive venue hire is when you are only booking part of a venue (like a function room) and the rest of the venue will be used by other parties.
It may be that you can’t afford to book the venue exclusively, but really don’t want any other groups to be disruptive or to affect your use of the venue at all. Although many venues wouldn’t take on two wedding parties simultaneously, other bookings may be something you want to check with them before booking.
Now, consider yourself a fountain of knowledge when it comes to venue choosing. Check out also our top tips for choosing wedding photographer or videographer and download our ultimate wedding checklist, so the wedding process is even easier.
Event Expert & Head of Client Experience
A wee lass who loves weddings and chocolate.