Supplier Edit - How to choose your wedding venue

Updated: Aug 15, 2018

One of the first and the biggest things to tick off your wedding checklist is the venue and this should be at the top of any newly engaged couple's list. With the venue booked, everything else can fall into place and so this is the big decision you really need to get right!

Our Christmas Swag at Doxford Barns

It's not easy choosing a place that you will remember for the rest of your life. Do you choose a venue that is sentimental, local, aspirational or just 'you'. Does the venue of your dreams fit your budget and if not, are you willing to compromise? There are just so many decisions to be made and at such an early stage this can make the whole wedding planning process seem incredibly daunting!

There are many considerations to factor in when booking your venue and it is easy to fall in love without checking the venue can cater to your requirements. So the big question is- how do you choose a wedding venue?

Follow these steps to help you to choose the perfect venue

Narrowing down the search

Just like your husband to be or your wedding dress, it is often said that when you find the one, you'll just know it! But there are still some very important criteria that you must keep in mind when looking around venues.


The first step to narrowing down your choice of wedding venue is deciding on the size of the guest list. A Venue too small can feel stuffy and overcrowded, but too big and guests will feel lost in the space. Make a rough guest list so you can immediately get rid of options that are too small or big. While nearly every venue will have a guest count maximum you should also to check to see if they have a minimum. Determine a rough number of guests before drawing up a list of potential venues.

Location, location, location

Where will your guests be coming from? If they are not local, choosing a venue that has accommodation on site or hotels close by is preferable. Are you planning to have the ceremony in your local church? Then how long will it take you and your guests to get to the reception and how will they travel? If your ceremony is in a place of worship or city, Is there nearby parking?

Wedding Theme

So you’ve got a rough guest list and a location in mind, next for the fun bit – finding somewhere that fits in with your wedding theme. Whether it’s a fairytale wedding in an historic castle such as Lumley Castle, a rustic country affair on a farm such as South Causey Inn, a beach location with a luxury twist such as Newton Hall or a sophisticated formal event such as Ellingham Hall, whatever your dream wedding, there’ll be a venue in the North East that’s perfect. Every time you look at a venue think about whether it works with your wedding aesthetic.

A musical theme for this band members wedding at South Causey Inn - Photo by Fyzal

Make some decisions BEFORE you look

Making some decisions before you start venue hunting will avoid disappointment in the future. Set yourself rules such as:

Budget– set a number and stick to it!

Date - would you like to get married on the day you met or are you looking for a a specific time of year and season but not a specific day? The more flexible you can be with your date and if you can choose an off-season month / day then you’ll often be able to secure the venue of your dreams at a lower rate. For example, you'd likely pay less for a Friday wedding in February than you would for a Saturday in August. If you are looking for a specific day then call ahead to check availability to avoid disappointment.

Catering and corkage– What type of cuisine would you like? Can the venue provide this? find out if you can do a tasting before the wedding and make the venue aware of any special dietary restrictions. If you are want a certain tipple then check what their policy is on corkage (extra charge for opening bottles of wine).

Suppliers– do you have a specific supplier you must have? Is your best friend a florist or your aunt a photographer? make sure you can you choose your own suppliers or do you need to use their recommended suppliers? "Preferred" suppliers are usually businesses vetted by the venue who work there often some venues have strict policies on suppliers and you may not be allowed to use the planner you wanted to work with or the photographer you already booked. Other establishments may use this list to suggest businesses they like to work with but still allow couples to bring in other suppliers

Live Music, Fireworks etc. – If you would like a band, fireworks, candlelight? Check if the venue permits this? At the venue viewing stage you will not know every detail of your day, however you must ask the venue what is not permitted. Finding these details out early in the planning stage before you book is essential.

Cake by Sara's Kitchen, Flowers by Peony and Gold

Questions to Ask Your Wedding Venue

How does a typical wedding day run - if there are any long pauses or delays your guests will become bored. If your ceremony and reception is in the same room, how long does the turnaround take, where will the guests be and what will they be doing? This is also relevant between the reception meal and the evening dancing. There should be a seamless flow from one section of the wedding to the next.

The weather in the UK can be unpredictable and so if you are hoping to have an outdoor wedding, is there and indoor space for any last minute change of plan?

Do they provide a master of ceremonies or wedding coordinator on the day? This takes the stress off you and is the best way to make sure all your guests are where they are meant to be at all times.

Ask if you'll have exclusive use of the venue. How many functions will they have going on at once?

Alex and Laurie married at Newton Hall - Photo by Eye of the Tyne Photography

Final thoughts

Don't book the first venue you see.

Take photos and videos on your mobile of everything you like and dislike at each venue.

Visit each venue with an open mind.

Visit Twice (at least) Enjoy the process, you are on the way to the best day of your life!!

JUST MARRIED!! Photo by Penny Rose Photography

Want more? Have a look at our Venue Suppliers List for more Inspiration

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© 2019 by Laura Stephens