Ten questions to ask your venue (and yourself!) before you book!
How many friends and family made the guest list? How much will it all cost? Do I like all the team I’ll work with? And that’s just for starters.
Coco Wedding Venues allows its online users to search its directory of 600+ properties across the country, hand holding them through the most expensive decision they will make throughout their wedding planning. It’s founder and curator Emma Hla, says these are the questions that should be top of your list before you sign on the dotted line.
Interview by Jade Beer.
What’s included in the price?
Staying within budget, now more than ever, is so important for our couples. The venue and catering are going to be around 50% of your overall wedding budget and that can feel really daunting and overwhelming. So, if you’re being shown images of a wedding set-up at your venue, make sure you check if a stylist was used to help create the shots. Is it someone they work with regularly who has brought their own props or are those things always available at the venue for couples to use? You don’t want to assume anything is included in the quoted price. Costs need to be talked about very openly, so everything is transparent.
What restrictions will you place on my day?
Couples want to know all the facts: what they can and cannot do and any restrictions that may impede their idea of the perfect wedding day. Flexibility is really important. There may be a very obvious formula that works at the venue and couples should always be guided by that. But you also need to be allowed a degree of creativity to make the day personal for you. Do you, for example, have the flexibility to work with suppliers of your choice such as an external caterer? Is the venue pet friendly? For some couples, including the fur babies is really important.
Who do you think I should work with?
I was the first person in my friendship group to get married, so this was the first large scale event I’d ever planned or attended. Having a really great tried and trusted supplier list from your venue is so helpful for couples to get them going, especially if they are time poor. Knowing that a venue has that really important support system in place that you can tap into is really important. Couples should feel like they are in really safe hands. Regardless of which suppliers you choose, you’ll always be coming back to the venue to ask questions. Clear communication that is open and honest will get planning off to a really good start.
Will you be hosting an open day?
One to one venue visits and open days are really worth doing. The latter are often set up for a wedding so you can see how rooms look on the day and do things like practice walking the aisle. This is ideal for those couples who struggle to look at a completely blank space and imagine their wedding there. You’re meeting the venue team on mass and often suppliers too. If the venue you’re considering is hosting one, definitely get to it if you can. Then follow up with a one-to-one meeting to talk more specifically about your plans.
Does the style of the venue match the style of wedding I’d like to host?
Barn weddings have changed so much in the past ten years. Previously people thought of them as very rustic, lots of bunting and wood – and you can absolutely still have that – but they can also cater now for very different wedding styles. There are lots of neutral, dry hire barns, those with a more Scandi feel, more contemporary Soho House inspired ones with Crittall glass walls and very uber glamorous barns with all the modern tech you could possibly need. Barn spaces also work really well for that golden 100-150 guest list, they have really big beautiful open space, they tend to be in the countryside and the pull of rural venues is still very strong. Most of them will also have some form of on-site overnight accommodation, like the Farmhouse at Tythe. Barns are having a moment again and it’s because of the massive variety that’s out there.
Can I meet the full wedding team?
When it comes to choosing a wedding venue, the location, price and capacity will always be the top three considerations for most couples. The deciding factor then comes down to the team because they are going to make or break your whole planning experience. They will be guiding you through everything. The people you meet and speak to should be really helpful and flexible, they need to be good communicators, open to hearing your ideas and working with your chosen suppliers, particularly if you have a wedding planner. All other things being equal, it’s the team that will sway you to choose one venue over another.
Will I meet the owner?
Family-owned venues are my favourite, I really do love them. I’ve visited lots of venues where it’s the owner who has shown me around and it’s always such a great insight into the venue, it’s history and how it came into their family. When it is a family owned venue like Tythe there is a certain love and passion because ultimately, it’s someone’s home. Up until last year, the Farmhouse at Tythe was still a family home and it’s lovely seeing couples welcomed in and becoming part of the venue’s story.
How can I make this wedding more sustainable?
How can you not be concerned about sustainability? Our couples are definitely aware of the impact of their wedding and they’ll work with their planners and venue to see where they can reduce the footprint of their day and balance out the impact. Supporting local businesses and producers, local suppliers and British growers is all very important to our couples.
How can we be accurate about costs?
Remember, it’s not all about ticking the boxes for your wedding, it’s about including the things that you want to include. There are plenty of pie charts that will tell you it’s typically this and typically that and I would say thrown them out and have a really honest conversation about your budget , who’s helping you and who’s contributing to your overall fund. If it’s just you two, work out how much you want to put in, how long you want to save for, then spend it how you want to spend it.
How many people should I invite?
This year we will see a bigger focus on the wedding experience for guests. It doesn’t necessarily mean really big weddings (although I absolute agree they will be bigger this year) but I also think the smaller micro weddings will remain. Whatever your budget is, most couples want to give their guests a really incredible experience. For couples with a smaller budget the way to obviously do that is have a smaller guest list. That way you can still treat everyone to an extended wedding itinerary with all the celebrations, bespoke menus, signature cocktails, wine pairing, local activities, everyone staying on site, incredibly energetic entertainment – whatever it is that’s important to you. If a couple has a larger budget, they just invite more people. But either way it will feel very personal and bespoke for their guests.
Head over to Coco Wedding Venues for lots more information and tips.
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Photography credits: Hannah Duffy Photography, Dearest Love Photography, MT Studio Photography, Igor Demba, Binky Nixon, Sam Bennett Photography, Ania Ames Photography, Joasis Photography, Pink Daisy Weddings, The Wild Bride.