Your wedding venue is usually the most expensive essential. Setting the scene for your celebrations, your venue must strike a chord with you as a couple while also meeting your wedding budget. 

Whether you're looking for a venue for your ceremony and reception, or just your reception, you'll want to find somewhere that feels right for you and your wedding day. While your intuition usually leads the way, giving you a gut feeling as soon as you set foot in your chosen venue, there are lots of aspects to consider.  

From stately homes and fairy tale castles, to rustic barns and blank canvas spaces, there are a wealth of options at your disposal. If you're just getting started in your search, take heed in this advice to set you on the path to success.  

1. Do your research  

Explore and research as many venue options as possible. It is best to start by deciding on a style of wedding venue. Once you have an idea in mind, you can search for prospective venues online and draw up a shortlist before approaching each for a meeting in person. 

Outdoor civil ceremonies have now been permanently legalised in England and Wales, so if you have your heart set on a ceremony surrounded by nature consult with venues on how they can accommodate your wishes. 

Remember, that not all venues are licensed to hold ceremonies, so you may opt to carry out the legal preliminaries elsewhere. Check with your chosen venues or your local registration service. 

2. Set a date  

When visiting venues, you should have a date or time of year in mind. Venue availability is on the rise again as couples who rescheduled their wedding due to Covid restrictions have finally been able to have their long-awaited wedding days. However, always be prepared to book far in advance. Also consider whether peak season is important to you, or if a mid-week wedding is an option should your chosen venue not be able to accommodate your first choice of date.   

3. Be realistic  

Be realistic when choosing the right venue to accommodate your guests. If you are planning an intimate 50-guest wedding, a large manor house may not be practical – especially when it comes to rounding everyone up for pictures. Consider venue capacity and plan your wedding day around that. 

4. Remember your budget  

Venues usually account for the largest proportion of your wedding budget, so how much you wish to spend plays a significant part in finding a venue that is right for you. Many venues offer wedding packages with styling or catering included, so always ask for a list of what is provided for the price.  

5. Consider facilities  

Check on parking, disabled access, cloak room services, access for suppliers and if there are any restricted areas. Think about your guest list and what their requirements might be to ensure that their needs are met and that they feel happy and comfortable throughout the day 

6. Somewhere to stay  

Accommodation, whether that is on site at your wedding venue or nearby, is crucial for the bride, groom and travelling guests – particularly if you are hosting your wedding away from home. It is useful to send out information about accommodation options with your invitations, so that guests have plenty of time to plan their trip and book their stay.   

7. Think about photos  

Wedding photographs are the lasting mementos of your wedding day, capturing memories that you will cherish forever. Your venue will provide the backdrop to your photos, so consider which areas you would like photos to be taken in. Whether you want lots of outdoor space with far-reaching views or a venue with a beautiful interior, take all aspects into consideration.   

8. Transport   

If you are having a church wedding or civil ceremony in another venue to your wedding reception, transporting guests to and from locations is a logistical matter to consider – and will also be determined by your wedding budget. The wedding venue you choose should be accessible to all, whether guests are arriving independently or as a group. 

If you’re holding your wedding in the autumn or winter months, make a contingency plan with your venue for bad weather if road conditions are poor.  

9. Paws for thought  

Having your dog present on your wedding day is a trend that shows no signs of slowing down. If you are set on including your beloved pet at your wedding, check with your venue first if animals are allowed. There may also be a fee attached to having your pet present at your civil ceremony; contact your local registration service to find out more.   

10. Clarify your vision  

If you are hiring a wedding planner, communicate with them openly and honestly about what you have in mind for your venue. Don’t be afraid to challenge the planner or venue if you are concerned about any aspect of the planning. After all, it’s your day and you deserve to have it your way.