How to Choose a Unique Wedding Venue like a Pro…

Pocketful of Dreams…

Ahh the search for ‘The One’, it can feel overwhelming to even know where to begin with this quest but today you’re in luck as those wedding planning experts over at Pocketful of Dreams are sharing a few insider tips to choosing a venue like a pro. They have years of experience working across all manner of wedding and event venues including gourmet restaurants, marquees on lawns, cool urban spaces, stretch tents in forests, contemporary seaside retreats and country house manors.

Over to Michelle from Pocketful of Dreams with her Top Nine steps to help you choose a wedding venue like a pro…

Top Tip #One…

Decide on your style and work out your budget, then stick with it. Now is not the time to go all fantasy-flora on us, if you’re dreaming of getting married in a castle with 250 guests arriving by helicopter but your budget is nearer £10K then you’re in for a rude awakening I’m afraid. It’s time to get realistic, so have those dreaded conversations about money now: with your folks, his folks, him and whoever else may be funding your day. Your budget will determine your starting point.

Now think about your wedding style, do you want coastal cool, country grandeur or a festival in a forest for your nuptials. Anything is possible it just takes imagination and a little black book of people in-the-know to make it happen.

Image credit: Helen Cawte //  Styling by Pocketful of Dreams // Location: Private Estate with Marquee and Glamping, Tunbridge Wells

Image credit: Helen Cawte // Styling by Pocketful of Dreams // Location: Private Estate, Tunbridge Wells

Top Tip #Two…

Get online and start doing some research, sites like Mr & Mrs Unique are a great place to look as they’ve done all the hard work for you by finding the coolest venues (and suppliers) across the UK. Also take a look across wedding magazines and see which venues and locations are popping up in their real wedding features, these can be a great source for finding those chic and unique hidden gems that aren’t so great at marketing themselves but still have a fabulous space to offer.

If you want ‘something really different’ then look outside the wedding world too, see where the fashion set are throwing their parties and hanging out, have a look at where the festivals are held across the UK as this could be a good indication for a cool outdoor location, even check out the private pads that offer you a wonderfully fabulous home for the weekend that’s yours to do what you want with.

Image credit: Helen Cawte //  Styling by Pocketful of Dreams // Location: Private Estate, Tunbridge Wells

Image credit: Helen Cawte // Styling by Pocketful of Dreams // Location: Private Estate, Tunbridge Wells

Top Tip #Three…

Get shortlisting! The best way to do this is to start with a longlist, get in touch with all the venues and spaces that have caught your eye and ask for more info, they will more than likely have a brochure of some sort that tells you all you need to know. But don’t be afraid to ask questions too, the key things you need to know at this stage are the how many and how much.

How many guests can the venue accommodate is a key driver if you’re booking a venue with fixed walls and a roof, if it’s something a little more adventurous then this is where the lines get a little blurry but most should have an idea of maximum capacities – it’s all to do with that boring health and safety stuff! Oh and the costs will vary from a price per head for those venue’s who offer more of a packaged service to a cost for hiring a space for an agreed amount of time if the venue is a dry hire.

Image credit: Helen Cawte // Styling by Pocketful of Dreams // Location: Private Estate, Tunbridge Wells

Image credit: Helen Cawte // Styling by Pocketful of Dreams // Location: Private Estate, Tunbridge Wells

Top Tip #Four…

It’s a given that you are going to want to view the space and once you have your shortlist of potential venues you should go ahead and arrange a viewing. Try to visit at the time of year you’re actually getting married as this is the biggest indicator as to what it will be like on your day, it’s also fruitful to visit at the time of day that key elements take place such as ceremony and cocktails so you can assess the atmosphere and lighting at those key times. If you can’t visit at the same time of year then ask them if they have images of other weddings or events from the same season.

One of the best ways though to get a true insight into a venue space is to visit it when there is an event on, viewing an empty space just does not give you an accurate portrayal of the vibe of a space as much as seeing it bursting with people and life. So ask if you can do that, maybe they have an open day or a cool client who wouldn’t mind you popping in to soak up the ambience during their own event.

During your visit you want to really soak up every inch of the space seeking out all the hidden nooks and little areas that make it unique. Try and walk the space as though you are a guest, so enter through the same way they would on your day, then move onto the next space and the next: this will help you figure out any little touches you need to put in place to ensure optimum guest flow, like signage. Finally take lots of pictures of everything from the overall spaces to furniture, architecture and grounds so you can refer back to them when you are knee deep in planning.

Pocket full of Dreams_0005

Image credit: Helen Cawte // Styling by Pocketful of Dreams // Location: Private Estate, Tunbridge Wells

Top Tip #Five…

If you really feel the need to negotiate then be realistic and courteous about it. No venue in the land is going to want to discount a Saturday in peak wedding season, even if you ask really nicely and bring them cake. If on the other hand you are prepared to look at Tuesday’s in November then you stand a much better chance of negotiations being received positively as demand is usually lower.

Image credit: Katy Lunsford //  Styling by Pocketful of Dreams // Location: Photolink Studios Manchester

Image credit: Katy Lunsford // Styling by Pocketful of Dreams // Location: Photolink Studios Manchester

Top Tip #Six…

Ask lots of questions, good venues and site owners will be prepared for these and foresee the majority of your questions, others will need some coaxing. You want to be asking about:

**Their policy on recommended suppliers and if you have to use them or are free to choose your own – a decent venue will always offer the latter option

**What the restrictions are regarding decorating your space, moving furniture around and bringing hired furniture into the space (some may charge you to store their existing furniture or have to get extra staff in to move it), ask if they will manage deliveries on your behalf should you need to get anything sent directly.

**Parking for guests, take a look at where it is and if it’s obvious how to get from the car-park to the various other spaces you are using. If not that’s when some funky signage will work wonders.

**If they provide you with room dimensions and floor plans and ask if they will help you to mock up room layouts later down the line, or are they more a one-size-fits-all outfit?

**Noise levels and potentials for disruption, particularly if your ceremony is being held within the venue. At the very least they should have staff briefed and signage in place to warn unexpected visitors their is a wedding taking place. It’s not just within the venue you have to consider here either, what about the neighbours?

**What the lighting is like, both natural and artificial, does the lighting dim or colour-change, do they offer AV facilities, is the internet access good or poor.

**The most important question to ask about all of this though is definitely: Is it included in the package and does the price quoted include VAT? This is one that will really sting you later down the line if you don’t ask now.

Image credit: Helen Cawte //  Styling by Pocketful of Dreams // Location: Private Estate, Tunbridge Wells

Image credit: Helen Cawte // Styling by Pocketful of Dreams // Location: Private Estate, Tunbridge Wells

Top Tip #Seven…

So if you’ve asked lots of questions you’ll more than likely have a raft of answers too, our key tip is if the answer is important to you then get it confirmed in writing. Venues meet hundreds of potential clients on a daily basis and often it’s the sales people who you have direct contact with at this stage and not those at the coalface, ie those who actually manage the wedding days. So what one may tell you is set in stone can often be unset come the final planning stages.

So do yourself a favour and write a summary of everything that’s been discussed, send it to your venue co-ordinator and have them confirm back their agreement.  Crucially you want them to confirm that they have informed the venue team who will actually be managing your day, it’s then much harder for them to renege on it later down the line.

Image credit: Katy Lunsford //  Styling by Pocketful of Dreams // Location: Photolink Studios Manchester

Image credit: Katy Lunsford // Styling by Pocketful of Dreams // Location: Photolink Studios Manchester

Top Tip #Eight…

If it all seems a little daunting then consider hiring the services of a specialist event planner who can manage all of this on your behalf. Here at Pocketful of Dreams we offer a bespoke planning service to our couples, meaning they have the choice of which elements they want to manage themselves and which they want to outsource. So you can still do the fun stuff like choosing your dream venue, attending cake tastings and picking out cool decor whilst passing on the less-fun stuff to us like checking contracts, creating logistical plans and liaising back and forth with suppliers. We know what to look for, the questions to ask and we are real sticklers for attention to detail.

Image credit: Helen Cawte //  Styling by Pocketful of Dreams // Location: Private Estate, Tunbridge Wells

Image credit: Helen Cawte // Styling by Pocketful of Dreams // Location: Private Estate, Tunbridge Wells

Top Tip #Nine…

Don’t get stressed over it, this is your wedding day and it should be fun and enjoyable to plan. If something doesn’t feel right then it usually isn’t right, you want to walk into your venue and LOVE it from the get-go. You’ll know when you’ve found the one so trust your instincts and enjoy it.

Thank you so much Michelle for your top tips! If you want to find out more about the awesome, creative team at Pocketful Of Dreams visit their website here. If you’re looking to create a breathtaking, extraordinary, celebration these are the team to get hold of Xx

3 thoughts on “How to Choose a Unique Wedding Venue like a Pro…”

  1. Ally D says:

    I love this list of tips! Finding a venue that is actually unique and fits with your theme can be really tricky! One of the best starting points for me was finding a great and comprehensive list to start from, like this one of Miami Wedding Venues. It helps to find and start your own list as well!

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