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Expert venue finder

6th June 2006 |By

Celebrity party planner Peregrine Armstrong‐Jones gives some vital party venue search hints…

Check for restrictions

When I visit a new venue I always ask the following questions:

  • Are there noise restrictions? Will they permit a discotheque or band?
  • What is the finish time?
  • Is one free to bring in one’s own choice of caterer, florist, decorator and other services? (Most venues take commission from their so‐called preferred contractors ‐‐ hence their preferred list)
  • Is smoking permitted?
  • Are there decoration restrictions? (Normally this will involve restrictions or fixings into the building)
  • Is there a power supply for lighting and ovens etc?
  • Are there any special conditions?
  • What are the set‐up and clearing times?

The venue’s answers to these questions will give you a guide as to whether you will be dealing with an organisation which is either efficient and flexible, or rigid and inexperienced. If you like what you hear then pay a deposit and sign a binding contract.

Space out

Once you have decided on your venue, you need to look ahead to your event. The layout of the reception area ‐‐ as well as the dining/dancing area ‐‐ needs to be planned. I recommend that you draw a plan. Sketch in the tables and dance floor. Draw in the bar and the serveries. Leave room for the stage, band PA and mixing desk. When these items are in place, sketch in the decorations and play around with the plan ‐‐ all of the guests are equally important, so the positioning of the tables is everything. Remember to make everyone, wherever they are sitting, feel special.

Transport tips

Find out the details of local taxi companies which your guests may need at the end of the evening. If they are staying the night, then you’ll need to think about a car park.

You can find a wide selection of wedding and reception venues in our extensive directory of venues across the UK and abroad.

Finding the perfect venue is rather like hunting for a new house! Here are some tips which I have found useful many times over.

Take your time

You will know when you have found the venue for you. As soon as you arrive, it will feel automatically right. Your venue is the place where you are going to entertain all of your friends and relations ‐‐ so take time to get it right. Start your search a long time before the party as this gives you the space to make the right decision without rushing into anything. Start looking one year before your party date.

Traditional or something completely different?

If you’re searching for something unique, you need to think laterally. You may have seen a building or even a private house that you feel would be perfect. Although some places look like they may seem unavailable… don’t believe it until you have asked.

I am always amazed by the number of times I have asked private owners to rent out their houses and the answer has been ‘yes’. So have the courage to approach a venue that looks exciting ‐‐ if you want to do something different, your venue needs to be dramatic.

If you are looking for a traditional, well‐tested venue, then you will probably be considering either a hotel or historic building which will offer a formula that works in that particular venue.

Take a look at the confetti venue search for some of the most beautiful.

Size it up

Once you know roughly how many guests you will be inviting, you’ll have a good idea for the amount of space that you will need in order to set up chairs, tables and dance floor area. Be careful ‐‐ a venue which is too spacious loses its intimacy while a venue which is too small will be uncomfortably cramped. Work at the space ‐‐ it’s simple just to draw a plan! Then you can tailor your party to the right venue.

Meet the caretaker

You need to establish early on whether or not the management of your venue are on your side. Most are friendly and flexible; however, there are certain museums and historic buildings which are run by caretakers/managers who, deep down, would prefer to see their venues full of art or exhibits instead of wine and music. So get the feel of the management wherever you go!

You can find a wide selection of wedding and reception venues in our extensive directory of venues across the UK and abroad.

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