Thursday, August 03, 2006

The Perfect Wedding Venue...

Hi there! :-)

Here with my Friday Blog again! :-)

Martin and I know because we got married in 2003 - that you pretty much start deciding on where you are going to get married as soon as you think of getting married! If it is a Church Ceremony - you book the Church and then the Reception Venue and if it is a Civil Ceremony - you book the Hotel/Private House. Through our years of experience we have been privileged to be at many different ceremony venues and reception venues - they are, of course, all different. So what should you consider when making your choice for your Wedding Day Venues?

We met up with one of our couples last evening at their venue for our usual Briefing Meeting - their Wedding is on 16 September - and we talked about why they decided on that particular hotel. Lyndsay and Adam said that they hadn't actually considered that hotel at first - but decided to check it out and they just knew their Wedding would be there when they walked into the hotel and looked around the grounds.

Unless you are sure of where you want to be - perhaps a favourite hotel or a marquee at your parents' home - somewhere which means something to you both - then it will be best to visit some different venues to get a feel for them. Like Lyndsay and Adam many of our couples tell us that they almost know as soon as they first go to a venue that they will feel special there and it has to be that venue.

One of the things we like to do with our couples is meet them at their Venue so that we can discuss the photographic opportunities and take a full brief of the photographs they would like - nothing left to chance on the day and our couples have the confidence in us to capture everything!

I have found some invaluable advice in the "Wedding Bible" by Sarah Haywood.

Sarah talks of the Big 5 - How? Where? When? Who? Budget?

How? - A religious service or a civil ceremony?

Where? - A geographic location.

When? - Ideal dates?

Who? - How many guests?

Budget? - How much can you spend on venue, food and drink?

I thought I would note the important points which Sarah has listed in her book with a little of my own input too!

1. The Reception Venue should be not more than about 30 minutes drive from the ceremony. We have had a 45 minute drive from the church to the hotel - from Sarn near Newtown in Powys to Albrighton Hall near Shrewsbury two years' ago. That was certainly a long enough drive and had to be calculated into the day's schedule - travel times should not be overlooked when planning the timetable.

2. Before visiting Venues work out the numbers of guests, your budget and the type of reception you would like [formal, informal or buffet or sit-down]. At least go to your first meeting at a venue armed with this information. A good Wedding Co-ordinator at a venue will also advise and help with these decisions. They have - when all is said and done - more experience than you! :-)

3. Check with the Venue that they can accommodate you on your chosen date. This really goes for all your suppliers and especially your photographer - yes I know I am biased - but we get booked up for all the main dates at least a year before.

4. Try and be flexible and adaptable if the Venue doesn't conform exactly to your ideas - if you love the venue and they cannot accommodate your guest numbers - perhaps scale it down a little. Flexibility in your thinking at the beginning is an advantage.

5. Ensure you meet the person who will deal with your Wedding before you secure the booking. We have experienced varying levels of capability with Wedding Co-ordinators at venues and the best are worth their weight in gold! I could tell you of one in the Shrewsbury area who is in fact made of gold!

6. Will yours be the only Wedding on that day? If not, are the function rooms independent? Do you want to see strangers in the bar on your Wedding Day? Or sitting on the patio watching you mingle with your guests? We know that exclusivity fees can take a big chunk out of your budget - weigh up how much that would mean to you. An option here is to have a venue which is a large private house/hall - there are many of those. They do in fact cost quite a lot too - so the figures have to be done!

One item of advice here from Martin and myself would be that if you have your Wedding Ceremony and/or Reception at a Private House/Marquee you will need a Master of Ceremonies. Sometimes the Bestman will take that role - some couples book a red coated Master of Ceremonies and sometimes Martin does it! :-) We will always step in on a Wedding Day if something is needed to be done! We are more than just photographers!

7. If you do not have exclusive use find out which areas are yours exclusively.

8. If you would like the Venue exclusively - see if there are cost advantages to being there mid-week. The only day we have not photographed a Wedding is a Monday! Couples are getting married on all days of the week now-a-days!

9. Ensure there is plenty of accommodation for guests either at the Venue or close by.

10. If using venue-recommended suppliers, make sure of their suitability before hiring them.

11. Put safety considerations before cost when hiring a marquee and go to a reputable company.

12. If getting married abroad use a specialist tour operator or destination wedding planner. Check health and visa requirements as soon as possible. We will willingly photograph your Wedding in an exotic place - just get us there and we will capture every romantic moment! :-)

We have some links to venues and suppliers we like on our resources pages. I hope that has given you some ideas if you are embarking on finding your Wedding Venues. Martin and I got married at The Albright Hussey Manor Hotel in Shrewsbury and can recommend it very highly indeed - in fact please go and see Paul or Jayne or David and say we said to go and have a look! You won't be disappointed! :-)

Warm regards. Julia :-) Next Friday my Blog will be on The Wedding Gown. :-)