When I said to my boyfriend that I was going to write a blog post about tips on finding a wedding venue he said 'but didn't you just choose the first one you saw' which just proves how much he listens to me when talking about important wedding issues (I saw 6). Here are some things to consider when you start what will probably be the first exciting bit of planning - eee!
1. Basic Numbers
Think about things like how many people you will be inviting (day and night), how easily accessible you need the venue to be for out of towners, guests with children/disabilities/the elderly, parking availability etc., and of course, a rough budget on how much you want to spend. There's no point falling in love with somewhere and then finding out it only holds 60 people when you've got a 100 strong guest list!
2. Make or break list
Have a think about what you definitely do and do not want - deal breakers. For example - is it crucial that you can bring in your own caterer? Do you want a venue which has availability for guests to stay in overnight? Even small things count - I had a real thing for carpets when I went to find a venue. It sounds weird but it felt like an indication of the place - if the carpets were really old fashioned and looked like they belonged in an out of date hotel it really put me off! However, prepare to be a little flexible - don't completely dismiss somewhere because it doesn't have every tiny detail you dreamed off. It's likely that place doesn't actually exist.
3. Your venue entourage
Consider bringing along someone other than your fiancé when you go looking. I didn't really have a choice as mine lived in Dubai at the time and as I really wanted to get the venue sorted before I joined him, I took my mum and sister. I'm actually really glad, we had such a nice time and I feel like my mum thought of a lot of questions that I or my fiancé would probably not have considered. Good old mums!
4. Hidden Costs
If a deal seems too good to be true it usually is, and some venues don't include things like tableware, a cake knife, a wedding co-ordinator etc. in their prices - little details that can really add up both financially and stress wise. Ask if absolutely everything is included in the quote they give you. Remember you can always try and save money by having your wedding on a weekday or at a less in demand time of year if you've got your heart set on somewhere slightly out of your budget range.
5. Timing is important
If you can. visit the venue around the same time you want to get married. This means you'll really see the venue as it will be on your wedding day. Obviously you can't guarantee the weather but you can get an idea of how hot/cold it will be, plus see which flowers will be in bloom, what the lighting will be like etc.
6. Organisation is key
Be prepared - take a notebook and pen, make sure your phone has battery to take photos, research the venue beforehand, have a look at previous weddings that were held there. Some venues even have a blog which is a great way to see how other couples have decorated the place and might inspire ideas or questions you want to ask.
7. Trust your insticts
In most places you just get a vibe - a gut feeling that tells you if you can imagine yourself getting married there. It's there for a reason so don't ignore it! If you're really torn between two venues, try tossing a coin and see what your first reaction is when it lands. If you feel disappointed, then you know you want the other choice! Finally, keep things in perspective. Of course you want your wedding day to be amazing but it is just one day - try not to get too carried away with things you don't need just because they look nice in the brochure.
I hoped these helped - thanks for reading and happy wedding planning!