How to choose a venue for your wedding
Besides the wedding photography or videography, the venue is probably the most expensive part of the day and an important choice. Here are some things to think about when researching venues.
Location. Where will you get married? Will it be close to family so it's easily accessible or that dream location that's miles away and will require people to travel (national or internationally). That will depend on how many people you'd like to have at the wedding (international weddings tend to have less guests as many may not be able to take time off work or afford to fly somewhere) and your budget. Sometimes international venues will have everything inclusive though which helps with the costs, and in many countries it will most likely be cheaper after converting from pounds to local currency. Also bare in mind that if you get married overseas you may have extra legal bits to do to ensure it's legal here in the UK.
Style. Are you looking for a more rustic barn feeling or upmarket hotel. The venue will largely determine your theme (rustic barn decor won't necessarily work in a glass chandelier hotel ballroom) and it's quite possible that you have a theme in mind so are looking for a venue to match. In this case Google and Pinterest are your new wedding planning friends! I spent hours on Pinterest planning my wedding and of course the final outcome looked nothing like I planned, however by putting together different boards for different styles it gave me lots of ideas.
Costs. Start with your date and budget. Then create a shortlist of venues that are available on the date and fit within budget. Go to wedding fairs at the venues if they host them to get a feel for how the venue manages events, ask for a show around and brochure, and speak to the co-ordinator. Keep in mind that some venues are just the bare canvas so you'd have to find from your own catering to toilets (some barn venues are like this) and some are all inclusive. It really comes down to budget though. I was desperate to get married in a castle however costs were prohibitive, but now that I've shot a wedding in a castle and in a pub, I can honestly say that it's more about the photos than the venue. Most of the time it only looks different on the outside...most venues inside look the same if they're used for weddings!
Staff. If you can try and attend your venue for an event before your wedding (if they have other events) so you can get an idea of the staff that might be working on your big day. Also, it's important that you get on with the co-ordinator and that you have a good relationship with them. If you feel any red flags or worries that they're not addressing, then ask to have someone else or find a venue where they care about having your business. It can be a very expensive day and you want to make sure that all suppliers have your best interests at heart! For them you may be one of many, however for you it's your one day.
Licence. If you are hoping to get officially married at your venue then you need to make sure they are licensed to do the ceremony and make it legal. You can't just set up in someone's garden and suddenly you're legally wed! If your dream venue isn't licensed for weddings then you can do all the legal bits at your local registry office, and then have a blessing or personal ceremony at your venue.