Red guide to choosing your wedding venue

Choosing a wedding venue is one of the biggest decisions a couple will make, whether you’re dreaming of a fairy tale castle or a simple civil service in a registry office, there are certain questions that you will need to ensure you’ve answered before handing over your hard earned cash.

  1. The first step is easy – talk to your partner. Discuss what your expectations are and realistically what your budget might stretch to.
  2. Next decide upon the size of your wedding. It’s important you finalise the guest list before venturing out to look at any potential locations. This is especially important if hoping to go for a hotel package as mostly these are based upon price per head.
  3. Finally make a list of all the facilities you require space for, such as a ceremony room, separate drinks reception, kids play area, photo booth or candy cart. List items under three categories; Added Bonus; Yes Please; Can’t Live Without. Use this list to whittle down your venue choices and it will save you hours of precious wedding planning time. In theory it’s not worth considering a trip out to visit anywhere unless they at least meet all of your ‘Can’t Live Without’ list and at least half of your ‘Yes Pleases’!

Here’s a template for you to download and use, with a list of example facilities to get you started.

If you are having a church or registry office ceremony then ideally your reception venue wants to be no more than a 20 minute drive away. Providing transport for your guests, like a double decker bus or coach, is a nice touch.

So you are now armed with your budget, your list of requirements and your guest list – half the bridal battle is complete. Now to find that perfect location!

Hotels and Fit For Purpose Venues – If you want a complete wedding package then this type of venue is probably best as a lot of places can offer you everything from the ceremony to catering and accommodation. All inclusive packages are generally based on price per head but there are lots of hidden extras so make sure you ask those all important questions when speaking with their wedding planning team.

Check out our Red Event Photography Wedding Venue Questionnaire, an essential list of key enquiries you’ll need to make when visiting your venues.

Don’t feel pressurised into signing anything on your first visit. Ask lots of questions, get a written quote, then go home and think about it. Once you’ve chosen your preferred venue don’t be afraid to negotiate. It’s always worth asking for extras or a small discount, whether it’s complimentary chair covers or an extra bottle of fizz, most venues will normally throw something in for free… but you do have to ask!

Gardens and Marquee – An outside ceremony/reception can be glorious if the sun is shining and there are lots of places that hire grounds and gardens out for this type of event. If you’re worried about the weather you’ll need to hire a marquee. The average size for a wedding reception to seat 100 would be about 10 x 20 metres.

There’s a lot to plan for this type of event, so it’s a good idea to hire a wedding planner to assist you, and also make sure you choose a caterer who can also supply the furniture and tableware.

Holiday Rentals – If your dream is to wed in an 18th century castle in the depths of the Dordogne (or Devon) then a holiday rental might be just what you’re looking for and can often prove to be far more intimate and luxurious than a hotel, with the added bonus of free accommodation for your guests.

You’ll need to sort your own caterers, table hire, etc. so make sure you can employ enough of the local lingo to make all the necessary bookings. The advantage to this option is that it becomes your house for the week/weekend, meaning that there’s no corkage charge and no fixed menus to stick to, plus it’s kind of like a honeymoon for the whole wedding party!

For ideas and available homes to rent check out or (always email to check with the owner that they allow weddings and events at the property).

Pubs and village halls – With the average hire price of a pub or social club being around £100, you’d be hard pushed to find a more economical option. Local halls can be just as sizeable as a hotel ballroom, often being very grand and jam packed with period features. Remember the more you save on the venue hire the more you can use for those all important extras that make your wedding stand out from the crowd, like a Red Event Photography photo booth, karaoke booth or magic mirror!

Hopefully our guide to choosing the right venue has whet your appetite and has you raring to go out in search of that perfect wedding location. For further essential wedding planning hints and tips stay tuned for our next post!