Firstly, congratulations on your engagement!
Wedding planning should be one of the most exciting things a newly engaged couple can do together. But there’s a lot more that goes into planning the perfect wedding than most may realise. Choosing a wedding venue is arguably the biggest decision you will have to make, not just because it tends to hold the biggest cost, but also because it determines the theme, schedule and overall vibe of your special day.
We’ve sat down with our expert wedding planners at The Willows to list some key questions you should be asking your venue so you can make the best-informed decision when choosing your wedding venue.
Firstly, you want to make sure the venue is within budget. Even if it’s not, it’s still worth visiting for inspiration.
After establishing that the venue is within budget, you’ll want to make sure your preferred wedding date is available. Wedding venues will take bookings years in advance, so it’s not guaranteed you will be able to match your dream venue with your preferred date.
This policy will vary depending on the venue and what else they use the space for.
This is down to personal preference, but most couples we work with are specifically looking for a wedding venue that offers exclusive use as part of the package. This means you will not have members of the public mixing with your guests and potentially disrupting your day. The Willows offers exclusive use with all its wedding packages.
Most venues will take a holding deposit to reserve the date before you start paying off the full wedding package. It’s worth noting whether this is refundable. In our case, we ask for 10% of the value of the wedding quote issued with 40% of the balance due 6 months prior to the big day and final balance including any extras no later than 28 days in advance.
Again, each venue will do this slightly differently. You want to make sure any credit agreements are in line with your budget and that there are no hidden costs.
Hopefully you will not have to worry about this one, but it’s worth noting just in case! There are a multitude of reasons as to why a wedding may be cancelled. Whether it’s down to a family emergency, budgeting issues, severe weather or elopement, it’s worth asking your venue what is refundable and what isn’t.
This will vary from venue to venue, some will only allow a select few suppliers to operate within the venue due to commercial agreements and past performance. Other’s will allow new vendors but may still offer a recommended supplier list for you to use.
Here at The Willows, we allow you to choose whoever you want for your wedding day and have an extensive list of contacts and suppliers we can pass your way. Rather than produce a blanket list we like to find out about your style and required vibe for the big day before pointing you in the right direction! In addition to well established industry experts, we also like to give new kids on the block a chance to get their goods and services in front of you as everyone needs a leg up now and then!
This should give you a greater idea for guest-list numbers and overall budget when paired with food and beverage packages.
Some venues will keep a small stock of decorations that you will be able to use free of charge or hire for a small fee.
Most venues will have a PA system installed for you to run a playlist through, but it’s always worth double checking! If the venue does not have these facilities, you may need to think about hiring a band or a separate PA system for your drinks reception and wedding breakfast.
Depending on the location of your venue, there may be noise restrictions on bands/DJ’s and guests outside. It’s worth asking about if this is important to you.
When inviting your friends and family, it’s likely the older generations may need a little helping hand. Make sure your venue can accommodate all your guests so everyone can enjoy the day equally!
You want to make sure your day is as stress-free you both you and your guests. We all have those select few on the guestlist who will rock up fashionably late, no matter the occasion. Ensure your guests are made aware of any potential parking charges prior to their arrival.
Each wedding venue is set up differently, that’s why it’s important to home in on what you want and what you expect to receive. Some venues, like the Willows, will offer full catering options from their in-house culinary team. Other’s will allow for outside caterers to supply the event.
Many venues will place a minimum figure they’re looking for couples to spend in their wedding packages. It’s worth asking to have this fee explained to you by the wedding coordinator and what potential consequences you may be subject to if you do not hit it.
We’re asked this question all the time! Some couples want a particular wine served during the wedding breakfast; others want a nostalgic keg of ale served on the bar. ‘Shy bairns get nowt’ is a well-used Geordie phrase – it’s always worth asking!
This is a key question that most couples will rightfully ask. You want to be reassured the team running your special day are fully briefed and led by a friendly face who knows your wedding plans inside-out. If your point of contact on the day is going to be someone other than your wedding coordinator, it may be worth asking to meet them so you can establish a relationship well in advance of your wedding day.
We’re sure you will have many more questions to ask, so we recommend you write everything down before coming to your showaround and subsequent planning meetings. We hope this blog have proved a useful tool and that your wedding day exceeds your wildest dreams!