Charlottes Advice

Finding your perfect wedding venue

Once the hubbub of the engagement dies down, us brides turn our immediate attention to The Big Day. I’m a bit of a planning freak – yes, a spreadsheet is central to my wedmin – so the thought of getting stuck in once we had set the date was thrilling to me. Not everyone’s cup of tea I’m sure, so your first task might be finding a wedding planner instead. This seems to be a massively growing industry so there will be someone out there to suit your tastes and budget – finding someone you gel with is probably the biggest criteria, followed by solid recommendations obviously!

We set a date around 18-months ahead. It sounded like a luxuriously long time, but what with work and life getting in the way, plus other more organised brides securing venues we were interested in before us – it hasn’t always felt like a luxury. So, the benefit of my learning – set a date and start thinking about your venue as soon as possible. This sounds pretty straightforward right?  However, to get the best fit, remind yourself of those guiding principles / words you have set as a couple so that you make sure your venue reflects this. Practically, you also need to have a rough idea of likely guest numbers; whether you want a full-on sit-down Wedding Breakfast; an Afternoon Tea, or something in between.

Our guiding principles were ‘informal, fun and loving’. We wanted to share the build up to the day itself with our closest family so wanted a venue where we could also stay on site for a few days either side. Similarly, neither of us are overly comfortable with dining formality so we also knew we wanted something a bit more relaxed and fun for our intimate wedding.  My first time around, I opted for the full hotel package as it seemed easier. This time, I know my own mind more and was prepared to hold out for what was right for us. Nowadays, I really believe couples can be more demanding about what they want and not just settle for a standard package – unless that’s absolutely what you want.  I was surprised to find some venues not willing to budge an inch from their conveyor belt approach so my advice: be clear about where your red lines are and, if a venue cannot accommodate them, there are plenty more fish in the sea!

After researching, long-listing and then short-listing from over 100 potential venues based on our ‘red lines’, we only actually visited two. I knew as soon as I walked into the first venue that it was ours – the same way you get a feel about the house that will become your home. The Hubby to Be keeps referring to it as Matchsticks so let’s stick with that… Though we did still visit the other place, our hearts were already committed to Matchsticks. It had everything we were asking for – and they have been totally committed to helping us achieve the day we want.

So, date and venue now sorted, the real planning could start. Next focus: The Dress – and how a nice gesture for my future MIL almost caused me a meltdown!


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