Having planned a fair wedding or two, I thought I’d share some of the knowledge I’ve learnt over years on points to keep in mind when looking for your perfect wedding venue.
What should your wedding venue cost?
It’s important to remember that your venue fee shouldn’t exceed 50% of your total wedding budget. This is because there are so many other items that need to be factored into your wedding budget such as your photographer, wedding gown, décor, and flowers for example. The 50% should include your venue fee, menu (including canapés), and some (or all) beverages for your guests too. However on the personal side, your venue choice can make or break your wedding so be sure that when you walk into the room, and you imagine your glistening candelabras and breathtaking flowers on the tables, that your heart skips a beat… that is how you know.
What should you find out about a wedding venue before booking it?
- Does the venue fee include table linen, cutlery, and crockery, and what condition are they in?
- Does the venue provide staff such as waiters, barmen, and setup staff or do those need to be sourced in by you or your wedding planner?
- Does the venue have a fully functional kitchen and catering team or do you need to source your own caterer? All of these extras tend to add up.
- If you’re planning on having your ceremony at the same venue as your reception, find out what the rules are about this before you book the venue. Some ministers and priests will not marry couples outside and if the venue does not have a chapel or chapel-like structure, the ceremony won’t be able to take place there. Some ministers and priests will only marry couples in their own churches so it’s important to know this before booking your venue as details like this could significantly change the proceedings of your wedding day.
- Does the venue look good on camera? Your wedding photos will last a lifetime so when you visit a potential venue, take a camera with you and take some pictures to see how the look and feel of the venue reflects in photographs.
- Lastly, it’s quite popular to have weddings far out of the city but keep in mind that your guests might not all stay over for the night and many will be driving home, after a long day and evening of eating and drinking which isn’t always ideal. My clients are always happily surprised to discover beautiful venues close to home, which is usually close to where the majority of their guests will be coming from. Choosing a venue close to home is also a good idea as you will want to visit your venue often during the planning process and being closer to it will make the visits easier and less time consuming.
What Venue Will Best Suit the Type of Wedding I Want?
There are a couple of venues that are suitable for different seasons and even different wedding themes, for example:
- Beachfront venues are a perfect setting for summer weddings as the sea breeze will be a welcomed refresher for your guests.
- Wine Estates are fantastic for spring weddings as they can be a little too hot in the summer but guests can enjoy blossoming flowers and celebrate to new beginnings in the spring.
- Forests or gardens can be beautiful and mystical places for smaller and intimate weddings. Just picture an Alice-in-Wonderland styled high-tea for your nearest and dearest in your auntie’s big, back garden.
- Hotels are fantastic venues as they have everything needed for a wedding, so very little hiring needs to be done, and one can usually negotiate great deals that include discounts or free accommodation for the bridal couple and preferential rates for all your guests.
- For carnival, vintage, or rustic themed weddings, luxury caravan and camping parks have become increasingly popular but I have to warn that planning to have your wedding at one of these quirky venues will not result in a traditional wedding by any means.
- For a weekend-away-wedding, for smaller to medium sized parties, hiring out an entire Guest House and having a small town wedding such as in Riebeek Kasteel, for example, is a fantastic way to leave it all behind for a few days and extend your celebrations over a whole weekend.
- Lastly, some couples don’t quite like the idea of spending a lifetime’s worth of savings on just one day, and instead combine their wedding and honeymoon into one, opting for a destination wedding where the couple, and those closest to them, travel to an exotic location to say their “I do”s in paradise.
What Else Will be Helpful to Know About Wedding Venues?
Regardless of the location, type or even cost, every venue should have a friendly and helpful point of contact for you or your wedding planner to work with during the wedding planning process. It’s very important to make sure you and your wedding planner meet this person before you book your venue and make sure that they will be the one working with you throughout the build-up to your wedding. While your wedding may only be one day, the planning of it often takes over a year so while the planning can be stressful, it should also be enjoyed and the journey will be made so much better by having the confidence that your venue will be flexible and accommodating to your personal wedding requirements, and deliver as promised on the biggest day of your life.
Some Final Saving Tips When Booking a Venue
When choosing a venue, it’s important to know that the prettier your venue is before you even walk in, the less you will need to spend on décor and this can make a drastic difference to your budget.
Lastly, it’s highly beneficial for you to hire a wedding planner who has established relationships at venues and has a more experienced understanding of what to look for, how to negotiate, and how to make sure all your dreams come true on your big day.