Things to think about when choosing your wedding venue

When it comes to choosing the perfect wedding venue, you’ll be faced with a variety of options; from getting married in the countryside to choosing which month to tie the knot. This article has been designed to break down the different options that you may be faced with, in order to give you a bit of a helping hand, including the best time of year and location.

Countryside vs. city wedding venue

The country vs city argument is as old as the hills and, thus, older than the cities. So much of this comes down to personal taste and the “sort” of wedding that you’re looking for. If you’re already sure of which way you want to go on this then you might not need to worry about this particular decision – some city wedding venues even boast utterly stunning views so you can get an element of the best of both worlds. If you’re not sure, however, then ponder this one for a moment. The quintessentially English country garden wedding is, of course, a wonderful tradition. We at Harper love a good garden for the kids to charge around and the happy couple (and any other couples – whether they came together or just leave together) to enjoy romantic wanders through. But of course there are downsides to such an event – most particularly transport and thus accommodation – which a city venue can help overcome. Being able to get to and from the venue by public transport not only makes life easier for a lot of your guests, but it means you haven’t got any designated drivers to worry about. Some city venues also have the benefit of being quite splendid and high profile – this might tickle your nearest and dearest a bit if they’re into that sort of thing. The potential downside of this to consider, of course, is whether this is the kind of vibe you want at your wedding. Getting your friends and family out of town “away, together, alone” can be a wonderful thing.

Summer wedding vs. winter wedding

The time of year that you’re hoping to tie the knot will have an impact on the type of venue that will be the most appropriate for you. If you’re thinking winter, then the stunning landscape gardens and babbling brook might not be worth the price premium. Conversely, if you’re hoping for a sunny day with Pimm’s on the lawn (or even an outdoor ceremony), you might want to push the outside space up the priority list a bit. Photographs are a big thing to think about here too – bear in mind that with a winter wedding you may find yourselves constrained by the weather and only be able to take wedding photographs indoors. The opportunities that your wedding venue has for varied and attractive indoor shots will thus be an important consideration. That said, of course, the thing we all love most about the UK is the unpredictability of the weather, and it’s often been said that the only way to guarantee that you’re not disappointed by the weather on your wedding day is to plan for driving, freezing rain. It’s thus vitally important to consider how your venue will operate in inhospitable weather, and what impact this might have on your plans.

Size of wedding venue vs. guest numbers

A key consideration when identifying venues that will be appropriate for the kind of wedding day that you’re looking for will be the number of family and friends that you’re hoping to invite. In fact, the entertaining/banqueting/ceremony spaces that your chosen venue has will be a major driver of the feel of your day. A venue that can seat 40 at a maximum will have a very different feel to one that can seat 200 – even if you do only have 40! A quick run through your expected guest list will give you a ball-park figure, and from this you can identify what bracket you need your venue capacity to fall into. Larger expected numbers will necessitate a bigger single space (e.g. Room) for your wedding breakfast and so you will more likely need to look at a specialist country house wedding venue or a hotel. With hotels – bear in mind that the biggest of the entertaining spaces often double as smaller spaces (with those clever removable walls) and, particularly in cities where space is at a premium, they may well find themselves in the basement! Alternatively, if you’re hoping for something intimate with just the closest family and bridal party, these options might not be ideal for you. They can work (we once held a truly stunning medieval-style banquet for 30 guests in the Refectory at Notley Abbey, which has the capacity to seat almost 200!) but you’ll have to look very carefully to find a venue with sufficient character and flexibility to work as well for very small numbers as it does for its ‘optimum’ guest list.

Quirky vs. ‘mainstream’

Are you looking to make a huge statement with your venue? We all know that the choice of wedding venue is, in some way, a bit like the choice of where to live in that somehow it reflects the personalities of those that choose it. It makes sense – the place where you choose to celebrate the biggest day of your life can’t avoid making some sort of statement about you. But what are you going for? Are you going for the snazzy, never done before talking point, or something more traditional? Are you eschewing all reference to religion, are you hoping to be sympathetic to the more traditional religious elements of a wedding without really having a religious ceremony, or are you currently on the phone to Westminster Abbey?