Choosing a wedding venue – top tips from the wedding experts

Nick & Esme wedding at Easton Grange
Real Wedding: Esme & Nick tell us about getting married at Easton Grange
23rd August 2017
Autumn wedding venue: Easton Grange
Autumn wedding venue, luxury barns in a countryside setting
17th November 2017

A guide to choosing your wedding venue

Your choice of wedding venue is one of the biggest and most important decisions you will have to make and so taking the time to research it and ask all the right questions will go a long way to ensuring a happy day.

Here is our guide, based on planning and hosting weddings with hundreds of couples, to choosing your dream wedding venue…

 

What is your dream day?

Where better to start than thinking about exactly what you want your big day to look like. Whether you have a vague idea on timing and location to a meticulously thought through colour scheme, this is the time to discuss it with your partner and agree what you want your big day to look like.

Here are just a few things for you to consider….

  • Type of ceremony… church or civil ceremony
  • Type of location…. countryside, coastal, town/city/village
  • Large or intimate…. how many people would you like to invite to share your big day?
  • Time of year… a specific season, month or day?
  • Ambiance… what kind of feel do you want your wedding day to have…. formal, relaxed, party?
  • Colours or theme… do you have anything specific in mind?

 

A couple of practicalities

So now you have a vision of your big day, a great start, so now its time to overlay one of the practicalities….

  • Budget.  Whether a precise number or a ‘ball park’ figure, a budget will add a sense of realism and make it easier to talk to venues & suppliers.

It is worth saying that a budget doesn’t mean you have to curtail your ambitions. Instead it will help you deliver them at a price you can afford and push your venue/suppliers to help you find the best and most cost-effective solutions.

  • Location. One of your considerations is likely to be how easily accessible the wedding venue will be to  you, your family, friends  and guest.  By establishing at outset a location – whether specific town or general area – you can help focus your search.

Wedding venue top tips from Easton Grange


Although it is tempting to focus on a specific town it is worth extending your venue search beyond this. Venues within a town are easy to find and likely to be well used, looking beyond gives you a chance of finding something different and quite often cheaper!

 

Setting the Date

You may already have an idea of when you would like to get married, it might be a special date you already have, or your wedding style or theme may dictate the time of year, but if you’ve no idea or preference and can be flexible, you may find that not only is your dream wedding venue available, your suppliers will have availability too!

Wedding venue top tips from Easton Grange


Try to be flexible on your chosen wedding date as this will give you a greater choice of venues and suppliers… and more choice means better prices. 

 

How far in advance to book…

If you have a specific date in mind, particularly during the summer months, it’s not unusual for bookings to be made 12 to 24 months in advance of the proposed date to guarantee a venue.  However, if you are more flexible on dates and venue, and can wait until 8 months or less you can find some excellent deals that could make big savings.

 

How your chosen date can save you money…

Wedding venue top tips from Easton Grange

In addition to date flexibility, there are other budget saving ‘wedding date’ measures including:

  • Weekday Weddings. A great option for those who work weekends, or teachers who can take advantage of the holidays… weekday weddings can often save you a few pennies compared to popular weekend dates.

We have some great offers available for weekday weddings at Easton Grange (Monday to Wednesday), and chances are, your suppliers won’t be as booked up during the week as well, so may be able to offer you reduced rates on services.

  • Winter and autumn weddings. Similarly, although increasingly popular, saying ‘I Do’ during the late autumn and winter months is considerably cheaper than the main summer season.

 

Starting your venue search

Once you’ve decided on your date, the fun can begin!  So where do you start?

Do your research

Ugh, don’t panic, this is  more interesting than it sounds.

  • Internet search. The easiest place to start is obviously the internet. You can search on wedding venues in the locations you are interested in but also in terms of the features you’re looking for.
  • Wedding blogs. Also, why not check out wedding planner and photographer websites to see real weddings that you would be interested in.
  • Wedding fairs and open days. These speak for themselves.
  • Recommendation. Friends, family, colleagues are also a great source of information worth mining for venue information.

 

Short listing

Your research should provide you with lots of options that you ideally need to get down to a more manageable shortlist.

When looking at the venues (websites, brochures etc) give some thought on how they match your dream wedding list. Consider all the aspects of your day; from decorating the venue, where you will get ready, where you will say I do, the food you will eat, your evening celebrations and your first night as a married couple.

Wedding venue top tips from Easton Grange
Put together a checklist of initial venue criteria based around your ‘dream wedding’ criteria you did earlier. Use this as a guide to compare the venues and get to your short list.

 

It’s time to check out some wedding venues

Research is great, but there is nothing like going to see the place for yourself. It’s time to contact the venue organisers and set up some visits…. the emphasis being on ‘visits’ plural. While you may well fall in love with the first place you see, it’s important to see more than one so that you are able to compare and see what a range of venues can offer – they will all have strengths and weaknesses.

 

What to look for on your visit

First impressions are important, but once you have taken these in you need to really evaluate the venue against your dream wedding… from the must-haves to the practicalities. Here is our quick guide to what you should be thinking about.

  • All the Rooms you need. Consider all the different spaces you will need for you and your guests, including….
    • Changing rooms. Is there somewhere for the bride and her maids to get ready? Is there somewhere for the Groom and his Groomsmen can get ready?
    • Wedding ceremony room
    • Drinks reception space
    • Wedding Breakfast, sit down meal
    • Evening do ‘s, parties and celebrations
  • Enough space. If you are planning a large wedding will the rooms at the  venue have enough space for you and your guests. That is enough room to seat everyone  at the ceremony and wedding breakfast as well as space to move at a drinks reception or party.
  • Too much space. If you’re planning a smaller wedding, will the room sizes create a special, intimate feel?
  • Is there a flow! It’s often overlooked, but during weddings participants and guests are regularly moving from room to room as the day unfolds. Consider whether the venue enables a natural flow to the day as this makes it all run so much more smoothly.

 

Wedding venue top tips from Easton Grange
Book a venue like Easton Grange so that your guests don’t have to worry about travelling from one venue to another in bad weather. It also means you don’t have to book transport to take you to the church and onto your venue!

 

  • Colours/Lighting. Will the venue work with your choice of colours? Particularly later in the day or year, how bright or easy to light is it?
  • Weather friendly. While we all imagine sunshine at our weddings, the British weather is changeable and so its important to consider all eventualities for your big day! Imagine how will your wedding operate if the weather is cold, wet or even very hot!

 

Wedding venue top tips from Easton Grange
Take lots of photos of all the venues and make some notes about the things you like and don’t like while there. It will help you evaluate them when you get home.

 

Capturing the moment

In years to come you will be looking back on the images of your big day and so give some consideration to how well the venue will be as a backdrop your special moment. From enchanting ceremony pictures to romantic countryside locations

Wedding venue top tips from Easton Grange
From open countryside and dramatic buildings to ‘Love Benches’ and footbridges, look for things that create the perfect backdrops for your couples shots!

 

Things to ask on your visit

It’s important to not only love the venue itself, but also the location and the team on hand – after all, they will be working with you to make your wedding plans a reality! We recommend asking them lots of questions to get to know them and get a feel for how they work. Here are some questions to get you started:

  • Wedding Co-ordinator. Is a wedding Co-Ordinator provided to ensure the day runs smoothly?
  • Exclusive use. Is the venue exclusive to you for the whole day? Exclusive use ensures privacy and no external noise/distractions, so if not find out how much interaction could occur.
  • Photo points. Ask the venue wedding organiser about the best picture opportunities and see examples of other weddings
  • Dog friendly. Whilst your 4-legged friend can’t be present in your ceremony (due to Registrar rules) they can join you for your wedding breakfast and evening celebrations!
  • Accessibility. Are all the areas that the wedding party and guests will be using on the day easily accessible to wheelchairs and/or those with restricted mobility?
  • Decorations. Does the venue have any restrictions on decorations? Can we make the venue our own and decorate it how we wish?
  • Catering. Can we choose what food and drinks to serve?
  • Supplier / vendor restrictions. Are there any restrictions to using your own suppliers/vendors on the day…. i.e. cake supplier, decoration supplier, live music etc
  • Celebrations.  What time can we party until?
  • Accommodation. Is there accommodation available for the bride & groom, family and guests?
  • Testimonials/references. Ask for contact details of a couple who have married at the venue recently so that you can get their independent feedback.

 

Catering / Food

Food is an important part of your big day and therefore it’s another key component of how you choose your wedding venue.

Venues can handle food in different ways from managing it in-house with their own team to using external caterers. However it is managed you need to feel confident that they can deliver to the quality and budget you  wish.

  • Menu. Are the menus fixed or are you able to create your own? Some venues, like Easton Grange, will allow you to sit down with the chef to design a food menu for your day…. this is not only fun but gives you the opportunity to personalise the menu and manage your budget.
  • Tasting sessions. There is no substitute for trying the food the caterers can produce, so arrange a tasting session and take other people along, such as family members, to get a broad range of opinions as tastes do vary.
  • External suppliers. If external suppliers you will obviously need to do your research on them too. Also talk to the venue about who will be liasing with them on the day.

Wedding venue top tips from Easton Grange
Sit down with the chef to design a food menu for your day… personalises the catering and enables you to manage your budget. 

 

Getting down to the numbers….

To compare your different venues you will need to establish what things are included and what isn’t. So with your budget clearly in mind, make sure you understand all the costs of hosting the wedding at the venue, from rooms and catering to lighting and sound systems.

Initial wedding quotes are likely to include a range of assumptions about what you want and may include things you don’t want. So don’t be discouraged, go through the quote step by step and make sure it reflects what you want. And, don’t be afraid to give honest feedback to the venue! The more you tell them about what you want and your budget, the more they can tailor a wedding package and price for you.

Wedding venue top tips from Easton Grange

Changing Champagne for the popular Prosecco is just one way to reduce the costs of your wedding package.

 

Your choice is made… book it!

You have researched the options, visited the venues, tasted the food… now you’re informed enough to make the right decision for you and your big day. So that just leaves you to formalise everything…. get your date confirmed with the venue and be aware that it may not be confirmed until you have signed a contract and paid a deposit.

 

Wedding rural setting. Alternative Essex wedding venue - Easton Grange luxury barn wedding venue

About us

Easton Grange is an exclusive use luxury barn wedding venue situated in the Suffolk countryside. On one fully connected site you can get ready, have a civil wedding ceremony, drinks reception, wedding breakfast, party the night away and stay in our exclusive accommodation.

Check out what people who got married at Easton Grange say… our testimonials