The Bride Side – How To Find Your Perfect Wedding Venue

You have just got engaged and are keen to book your wedding venue. You might have a particular date in mind and an idea of the area that you want to get married in. I found in my search that it pays to have a set list of ‘must haves’ for your venue, but if you can it is worth being flexible with the date and even day of the week. Discounts are common for mid week weddings and sometimes Fridays cost less than Saturdays. Before 1 May is often considered off-peak season in the UK.


I had it in my mind that I wanted to get married on our anniversary but the venue I liked wasn’t available on that date. I decided that as it ticked all the other boxes it was worth being a bit flexible so I chose an alternative date.


venue checklist



Questions to Ask

Here are some questions you might want to ask and things to bear in mind when you are looking at venues:

  • Is there somewhere for children to play? E.g. a garden or a separate lounge?
  • How much is the deposit?
  • When is the balance due and can you set up a payment plan?
  • When do you need to let the venue know final numbers for food?
  • Do they have accessories you can use such as a cake stand, cake knife, and an easel for your table plan?
  • Are there any restrictions for bands/DJs e.g. sound levels or size of band?
  • What is the cut off time for music?
  • Is VAT included in the prices?
  • Is BYO alcohol an option and if so, do they charge corkage?
  • Can they offer a choice of options to guests for food or must everyone eat the same dish?
  • Do they have an ipod player you can use for background music?
  • Do the speakers go loud enough to be used instead of a DJ?
  • If there is accommodation provided: What time can you access the bridal suite for getting ready?
  • What time is the venue available to set up decorations? If there is no function the day before, some venues will give you access to save you the stress on the day.
  • Can they cater for different dietary requirements e.g. gluten free?
  • Is there much parking nearby?
  • Can guests who are not staying the night leave their cars in the car park over night?
  • Are there any extra charges you should be aware of?
  • How many members of staff are on hand on the day?
  • How long in your schedule should you allow for the meal?
  • Do they provide a microphone for speeches? If they don’t you can often use your band or DJ’s microphone.
  • If there is an outdoor reception area: Do they provide a marquee/gazebo if it rains?
  • Do they provide a cash bar for the evening at no extra cost?
  • Do they have a recommended suppliers list?


    • If your venue charges to provide a marquee or they only have an indoor alternative for your reception drinks, some venues will let you provide your own gazebo outside. You can buy gazebos and small marquees quite cheaply from shops like B&Q and Argos.


    • To save costs on providing an evening buffet, some venues that don’t allow you to provide catering yourself, will allow you to provide a cheese tower. They may insist that they provide crackers and grapes to accompany it but you might find that you save money this way. More often than not, if you are having a late wedding breakfast then people won’t want to eat much in the evening anyway. I am choosing to serve my wedding cake in the evening and I am considering having a cheese tower along side it.


    • Before you put a deposit down to confirm your venue, provisionally book it and check that there is a registrar available in your local area for the date and time you want them. Again, you might need to be flexible with the time depending on availability.


    • It is worth going back to visit your venue when it is set up for another wedding so that you can get a better idea of what it will look like. Most places are fine with you visiting in the morning if they have weddings taking place in the afternoon. You may even want to visit several times to see the different possibilities for layouts and decorations.


    • If you are choosing a date that isn’t a special date to you, try writing it down as you would write it on the invitation. Some number combinations look nicer on paper than others. For instance you might want to pick a date that has some sort of symmetry or contains numbers that are significant to you, even if the date isn’t.


    • Before you book the venue, look online to see if there are any big events or festivals on in that town or city on the day of your wedding. You don’t want to be in a situation where all of the accommodation gets booked up months in advance if your wedding clashes with a big event.

My Chosen Venue

I went back to the UK for a few weeks to find our ceremony and reception venues. I narrowed my list down to around 10 different venues in Sussex ranging from golf courses, barns, a pub, a restaurant and hotels. My fiancé Carl came over a couple of weeks later to see my top 5.




Our top 2 reception venues were very different. A quirky pub versus a banqueting hall in the grounds of a cathedral. We ended up choosing the latter as it was a venue that we could imagine setting up games in the garden and having plenty of space for kids to play in. Our siblings have children so this was something that was important to us.


We are getting married in a grade one listed building called Edes House in Chichester, West Sussex. The wedding breakfast will be 5 minutes down the road in Vicars Hall in the Chichester Cathedral grounds. For the evening we have hired George Bell House. There are bedrooms for our family to stay in as well as a big garden and several rooms for people to relax or dance in. Our compromise was that the décor isn’t quite what had envisioned having at our wedding. We will be adding a lot of our own personal touches to add our own personality into the rooms.


Handy Websites

A few websites to get you started for venues in the UK. If you live in Sussex, your local library should have a brochure on all of the venues in your area licensed to hold civil ceremonies.


– Hannah –