WEDDING PLANNING: Handy tips and a comprehensive guide to picking your wedding venue

24th March 2016

Photo: Gavin Forster

Now you’re at that exciting stage in your wedding planning journey - venue viewings.  Exciting and possibly a bit stressful …

Getting to the venue viewing stage means it’s suddenly really happening!

To help you get a grip, lovely eco friendly wedding planner Clare de la Motte has been super busy with this road map of what to take with you on your search ... over to you Claire:

This can be the most confusing and scary part of your wedding plans because, now you’ve done your sums, you’ll know that your venue could potentially make the biggest dent in your wedding budget and you need to be super confident that you know what you’re looking for.  So, to help you get a grip, I’ve mapped out what to take with you on your search:


By now you’ve already had a good look at your finances, worked out how you will be paying for your big day and who else might be contributing to your wedding fund. You've taken all the elements into consideration and you’ve got a really good overview of your costs, with a clear idea of what you've got available in the budget for your venue and catering.  

Make sure you have your budget indelibly printed in your mind or on your notes at all times!

Matara Centre in the Cotswolds


At this stage you will need to have a rough idea of how many guests you will be expecting.

  • How many of those will be children.
  • Do you have any guests with special requirements, perhaps older people who could struggle with stairs or rough ground?
  • Have your guest list roughed out with potential final numbers.

Photo: Marshal Gray

Your Style:

This is obvious, I guess, but if you’re looking for a sophisticated and stylish wedding, a forest glade probably isn't the best place to start, and vice versa. A bit of thinking outside the box, can sometimes have glorious results, not to mention a really unique wedding, that will keep your friends talking for months and even years.

  • What’s your favourite season?  Take seasonal produce into account when choosing your season if your food choices are important, e.g. strawberries and roses mean summer; hellebores and narcissi mean spring; venison, apples and pumpkins mean autumn; firelight, candles and holly berries mean winter.
  • Morning, afternoon or evening? All day, all weekend?

  • Are you getting wed in a church or a registry office? Do you want your ceremony and reception at the same venue? Do you want an alternative ceremony - pagan, humanist …
  • What look and feel are you planning?
  • Listing a few keywords will help you to define your style, e.g. inside, outside, informal, formal, modern, rustic, industrial, country, woodland, fairytale, rustic, coastal, vintage, festival, elegant, fantasy, and so on …

The Rockpool, Cornwall

Keeping costs down:

  • Having a flexible approach will help you to keep your costs down.  
  • Always remember if you choose an hotel as your venue, you will be 'bidding' against anyone else booking the space you need.  
  • If you’re prepared to get married off season (there are some amazing ideas around for winter weddings) you can save yourself quite a lot and, if you are able to get married mid-week, you'll have far less competition for the space.
  •  Don't be afraid to negotiate!  

  • The worst that can happen is they'll say no, while this might feel embarrassing, you don't know if you don't try.
  • Do you have family or a friend with an amazing garden, field or outdoor space for a marquee or tent, you could save a bomb on venue hire costs and have a bit more to spend on décor and all the other little personal touches.

Cornish Tipi Weddings, Cornwall

Hidden Costs:

Keep a look out for these, it could be something quite obvious, or something you just hadn’t thought of.  Here are some things to look out for:

  • Is VAT is included?  

  • If you're going for a package deal, think about how much wine is included in your package.  
  • If you’re doing a cash bar have a look at the bar tariff - even your most well-to-do guests don't want to feel like they are paying too much for a drink.  
  • I've heard of other charges too, some venues will charge you a bit extra to have the civil ceremony on site - not every bride wants this, so sometimes it isn’t included in a wedding package.
  • If you aren't getting a package deal, check if the venue will accept alternative suppliers, or if you are tied to their preferred suppliers.
  • Some venues have lots of extra charges - corkage, cutlery and crockery, breakages, cleaning, staff, make sure you have a list of ‘hidden’ charges.
  • Sometimes venues will do almost a 'dry hire', so the initial costs look very low on the surface, in these cases you may find that they don't even include linen and crockery.

Check, check and double check what might add to the costs.

Photo: Sarah Lauren Photography

On site:

When you do get to have a look around the venue there are a few things not to overlook:  

  • Does the venue have enough kitchen facilities?
  • Are there enough toilets? Check out both ladies and gents bathrooms and see if they need cleaning or dressing.
  • Check to see if there's enough parking
  • Is there disabled access for those guests who might need it?
  • Climate control - is there air con. in case it's hot, or heating if it's cold, in all the rooms you will be using as well as the bedrooms, if you are booking these?

Photo: Jason Ingram for Elmore Court

Outdoor Weddings:

With the British weather always lurking in the background you should have a contingency plan for outdoor weddings.  Tents are a perfect way to keep the informal, open air feel, and these can fit in perfectly with your style, you won’t believe some of the amazingly different styles of tent that are out there.  Have a trawl through this site to see what’s on offer.

Do you have a rainy day backup?

  • If you’re thinking of having an outdoor wedding in a field or at home then there are more considerations to take into account:
  • What sort of tent do you want?
  • Do you need to hire in toilets?
  • Will the caterer need a field kitchen?
  • What sort of access is there on to the site?  Will you need to protect the ground for vehicle access in wet weather?
  • Do you need power for heating, lighting, entertainment?

World Inspired Tents, South West of England

Green credentials...

  • Because you’re reading this on Green Union you will most likely be keen to check out how eco friendly your chosen wedding venue is.  Some of the things to look out for and ask about are:
  • Where do they source their food and flowers from?
  • Do they offset any of their carbon footprint?
  • Are they a member of the Green Tourism Board?
  • Are they organically certified?
  • Do they support their local community?
  • Do they pay fair wages?
  • How do they manage their waste and recycling?
  • Do they have a written and enforced environmental policy?
  • If it’s a farm how do they manage their land?
  • Are they a part of an environmental organisation?

Huntstile Organic Farm, an eco friendly wedding venue

Of course not every wedding venue will subscribe to all of the above but it’s always great to find out what they can do and to encourage them to do more.  

Above all, this is not a proscribed list of eco friendly must haves, but just a guide, you will know if the venue’s ethos matches your own once you've had a chat with them.

Thank you Claire - brilliant wedding planning tips.  Armed with these you'll have no trouble squirrelling out the perfect wedding venue for your special day!

If you would like to talk to Claire about your wedding and seek her help with a part, or all of your wedding planning then get in touch by emailing and Claire will get back to you.

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