3 Choosing your venue – Gill’s Wedding Diary

Written by    Last updated: September 9, 2006

Our reception venue was the first thing that we booked and it might well be the most expensive thing we book. Dad’s chequebook took a bit of a hammering, to say the least! It’s so important to choose the right venue and there’s lots to think about when making your choice ‐ so here’s some hints which might help you.

Gill’s essential tips for choosing a venue

  • Decide on guest list numbers for both the day and the evening. When contacting reception venues, one of the first questions you should ask is what capacity the venue can hold.
  • Set a budget for the total reception cost ‐ then double it! At the same time, be realistic. If you need to save money, don’t waste your time enquiring about The Ritz for 400 people!
  • Contact as many venues as you can and ask for information to be sent to you. Don’t rely totally on information that you may be given over the phone. Unfortunately people do make mistakes, so wait until you have details in writing before you set your heart on a venue.
  • When contacting venues and requesting information, we gave them ‘two strikes and you’re out’ ‐ in other words, we only asked for information twice. If it wasn’t sent after the second request we struck them off our list. If a venue can’t get an information request right, why trust them with your wedding reception?
  • Be strict ‐ if for some reason the venue isn’t right for your reception, you must stop looking at that venue altogether. There is no point in building your hopes up and wasting time on things that you can’t have!
  • If there’s something you’re really not happy with, say now, rather than after the non‐refundable deposit’s been paid.
  • When comparing prices make sure that you are doing it ‘like‐for‐like’. Most places have a number of different packages available, so although initially a particular package may seem more expensive, you may be getting more for your money.
  • Check exactly what is included in the price that you have been quoted. For example, the use of linen tablecloths and napkins at many venues works out at around £2 per person!
  • Check whether the prices you have been quoted include VAT.
  • Decide whether you would like to offer a buffet or a sit‐down meal. If you’re having a buffet, most places will allow more guests, as they don’t have to allow extra space for the waiters and waitresses to get between the tables to serve. Also, a buffet is generally less per head. The other option that some places offer is half‐way between each, where the meat is served properly, but guests can help themselves to vegetables from tureens on the table. This is the option that we’ve chosen.
  • Many venues have on‐site caterers, but some may give you the option of using an external caterer. Check whether your chosen venue has a list of recommended suppliers. In some cases, venues have suppliers that they insist on.
  • Ask how many waiting staff will be working during the meal ‐ you don’t want to the food to go cold.
  • Venues may allow you to provide your own alcohol. This may be a cheaper option, but there will usually be a corkage charge. Check how much this will cost you.
  • Don’t be afraid to tell people at the venues the truth. If it’s out of your budget, they will appreciate your honesty and may be able to offer a solution.
  • Most venues increase charges on Saturdays and during the summer, so you may be able to cut costs by choosing an ‘off‐peak’ date. Apologies Mum and Dad ‐ we are getting married on a Saturday in July ‐ not quite off‐peak!

Happy venue hunting!

Read Gill’s diary next month to see how her wedding planning is going and to pick up some handy tips along the way.

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