You’ve just said ‘yes!’ to the love of your life and you’re on cloud nine. The mantlepiece is overflowing with congratulatory cards and you’ve had more glasses of bubbles than you dare to count. But then reality kicks in; how do you even plan a wedding? Where to start?
There are plenty of useful resources to help you during your wedding planning journey. As well as being a brilliant tool for wedding inspiration, venue directory Bridebook also offers a wedding planning checklist that many of our couples swear by. You can personalise the checklist to your ideal wedding date, allowing you to see exactly what you need to do and when.
Choosing your wedding venue is by far the most important decision you’ll make. Not only will it be the most expensive item on your wedding budget, but it’s the glue that holds the foundations of your wedding together. So, to help you choose your perfect wedding venue, here are our top tips:
You might already have a dream wedding in mind, or you might not. Perhaps you and your partner have very different visions for the day, or perhaps you’re from different cultures or religious backgrounds.
The most important thing is to communicate what your wedding day means to you both and to build your plans around this shared vision from the start. Open a bottle of something special – or even put the kettle on – and start discussing your ideas.
What would your perfect wedding day look like? Picture the setting (a religious building or a venue?), the number of guests (a big joyous celebration or a more intimate gathering?), the food you’re eating, the entertainment you’re enjoying, the photos you’re having taken.
It often helps to scroll Pinterest for inspiration. Start building a joint “Dream Wedding” board to include examples of the day you’re picturing and the elements that will make it truly special. You’ll soon notice patterns emerging – are you finding yourselves pinning lots of barn wedding venues or are photos of city weddings appearing more often?
Getting on the same page now will save you lots of time and energy when it comes to starting your wedding venue search.
The next step to consider when choosing your wedding venue is location, location, location. Are you looking to get married abroad or would the possibility of travel disruption be one worry too many in the build up to your wedding day?
If you’re looking at the UK, think about where your guests may be travelling from and where there are good transport links, particularly for less mobile members of your wedding party. If your close family and friends are mainly based in Kent, for example, it would be a logical decision to consider exploring wedding venues in Kent.
Do you pick a wedding date or a wedding venue first? It’s an important question and the answer will depend on the both of you.
If you can be flexible with the day, week, and month you’ll have a wider selection of venues to choose from. But if you have a specific date or month that’s special to you both, you’ll need to consider whether the date is worth potentially missing out on your perfect wedding venue for.
Next, think about how much time you will need to plan your wedding, and how much time you can realistically dedicate to it. It takes the average couple between 12 and 18 months to plan a wedding. However, this can be fast tracked if you know exactly what you want and are willing to compromise on items which require a longer lead time, such as an in-demand venue or supplier.
If you need time to save money, juggle wedding planning with daily life, and source the perfect elements of your big day then you’ll likely want to give yourself a little longer.
According to Bridebook’s UK Wedding Report 2022, the cost of the average wedding in the UK is £16,529. But don’t panic, this is an average cost that ranges from the most glamorous of weddings to the most intimate.
It’s important to figure out what you can realistically afford, rather than what you think you should be spending. You want your wedding day to be the start of your happily married life, rather than the start of a heavy repayment schedule.
Look at your finances, speak to your family members, and consider a budget which will suit you. Tailor your dream day to your budget and you will not feel the financial burden hovering over you when you should be celebrating. Whatever your budget, you’ll find a wedding venue and package that suits you.
Remember, weddings are made by the love in the room, and that’s something money can’t buy.
To help you understand what size of wedding you’re looking for, put together a rough guest list which includes the people you want to be at your ceremony and at your reception (or the entire event, if you don’t want to divide your guests).
It’s a good idea to check this over with your family if their input is important to you, or to simply get a fresh pair of eyes. The last thing you want is to accidentally offend forgotten relatives or friends.
The number of guests you want to invite will help you to understand the size of the wedding venue you’re looking for, helping you to narrow and focus your search.
Is it important to you that you’re the only people using your venue on the day of your wedding? If so, you’ll want to look for a wedding venue that promotes itself as being of “exclusive use”.
Exclusive use guarantees your privacy for the duration of your wedding day. You may be able to relax more if you know that your event isn’t disturbing other people and that your special day is private, reserved for you and your loved ones.
Once you have a good idea of the size and the scale of your dream wedding, you’ll be able to look at venue directories like Bridebook and Hitched to narrow down possible locations. Create a shortlist of venues you like the look of and browse their websites and social media channels to see what your first impressions are.
This is a question you will need to check with your shortlisted wedding venues. If you’re using their wedding planning service and they do not have this provision, you should consider looking at a separate policy in case of family illness, bad weather, or issues from suppliers.
It is unlikely that you will need to use the policy, but it is one less sleepless night to know that you are covered in case of any problems.
Double check with your shortlisted venues to see exactly what is covered by their own policy then consider whether you want to pay the price for insurance, or pay the price of not having insurance.
After watching online tours and researching the best wedding venues, you’ll have a good shortlist in mind. We recommend visiting between 2-3 wedding venues in person. Any more, and it may be that your criteria isn’t tight enough.
Good venue websites, online searches, and social media channels will help you to understand if a venue is suitable for your budget, guest list, and other non-negotiables. The last thing you want is to take the time to visit a venue in person and fall in love with it, only to find out it’s way out of your price range.
Once you know a venue can meet your exact criteria, it’s time to book a wedding show round. Visiting the wedding venue means you can check that it is well maintained, in a good location, and – crucially – that you’re greeted with a friendly face when you arrive. You will need to work closely with the team so it’s important that you are comfortable with each other.
The final, and most important, question. Your chosen venue will just click with you both. It will meet your criteria and you won’t be able to imagine yourself getting married anywhere else. There may be a lot to organise, but you know that with this wedding venue and team in place, you’ll have the wedding day of your dreams.
If you live in London, the south-east, or beyond, explore about our beautiful wedding venues in Kent.