There’s more to choosing a wedding venue than visualising how romantic it could look with your dream décor and friends and family surrounding you. We asked the experts at some of the UK’s popular wedding venues for the essential questions you should ask before booking
When it comes to choosing a wedding venue, it’s easy to act on instinct as soon as you enter the place and absorb the atmosphere, but it’s vital to carefully contemplate all the elements that need to come together on the big day.
From selecting the right wedding package to corkage fees, trying the menu and confirming whether you will have exclusivity of the venue, it’s important to go prepared and ask all the right questions to avoid being stung later on.
To help with the process, Bride asked wedding venues what couples should be querying before booking and parting with their cash.
Stanbrook Abbey, Worcestershire
A Grade II listed building located in a 50-acre estate, this Victorian venue lies just south of Worcester. They advise asking the following:
1. If choosing a wedding package, what is and isn’t included?
This query matters because there could be various packages which could take the time of the wedding into consideration among other things. Check what is on offer and if possible ask them to spell out the differences between each.
2. Can you access the venue the night before or on morning of the wedding to decorate and drop off items?
Clearly the outcome of this question will determine the logistics of your wedding planning. Once you know when you can gain entry and access to the building, you can keep things running smoothly and ensure there are no hiccups with styling and catering.
3. What is the corkage fee if bringing your own alcohol?
If budget is an issue for the wedding day, this will help gauge the value in bringing your own drink for guests.
4. Is there a time restriction on playing music?
Let’s face it, guests will be wearing frowns rather than their party shoes if the party has to finish 10.30pm and you planned to dance the night away. Avoid any confusion by asking about time restrictions.
Winter Barns, Kent
Located in the Kent countryside, the barns offers rural charm with vaulted ceilings and is licensed for civil ceremonies. Here’s their advice:
5. Are we allowed our own band or DJ for the evening and do you have a recommended list to help us choose?
Great wedding venues are adept at helping couples with certain aspects of the wedding, so it is worth asking for any relevant recommendations. Jot them down in a notebook so you can revisit and research them online.
QHotels Oulton Hall, Leeds
This 18th-century mansion on the outskirts of Leeds offers four-star facilities and a wedding co-ordinator who can help arrange flowers, a photographer, entertainment and accommodation. Adele Jamookeeah has co-ordinated weddings at Oulton Hall for the past three years. Her top questions are:
6. How do you work with external suppliers?
We offer a list of recommended suppliers – people we’ve worked with and trust – however couples can use whichever suppliers they like. But that’s not always the case, so it’s important to ask if you’ll be tied into specific suppliers that might not work with your budget or tastes.
7. How will you support us in the lead-up to the big day?
Finding out the venue’s timings in the run-up to the wedding will be really helpful for when you come to plan your suppliers and the finer details. Ask the venue how many times you’ll meet the team before the big day and when the meetings will be scheduled.
8. Will we benefit from a dedicated event manager on the day?
Having a dedicated wedding co-ordinator who knows your wedding inside out will relieve any stress from you and your wedding party on the day. This should be an important consideration when choosing a venue.
9. How flexible are any all-inclusive packages?
If you’re looking at an all-inclusive package, ask the venue how flexible it can be, just in case there’s anything you decide to change. For example, if the package includes canapés, you might decide you’d prefer to spend that cost on drinks instead.
10. When will you have access to the venue ahead of the wedding?
Every couple needs to have plenty of time to prepare the space and ensure everything is ready on the day, so it’s worth asking when you have access to your venue, either in the days running up to the wedding or on the day itself. This will help further down the line when you come to co-ordinate suppliers arriving.
11. What room decoration do you provide?
Most venues will include table linen, silverware and decorations such as seat covers in your wedding package. Ask to see these on your first visit to check the colour and style is to your taste and complements your colour scheme.
QHotels Crewe Hall, Cheshire
Andrew Foster, wedding & special events executive at Crewe Hall, works closely with couples planning every last unique detail to create the fairytale wedding day at the 400 year-old Jacobean mansion in the heart of Cheshire. Here are Andrew’s top questions that couples should ask their venue:
12. Will you have exclusivity of the venue?
It’s always worth asking how many weddings the venue can host in one day and if there’s an option for exclusivity. If you’re planning a big wedding it’s always nice to have the option of exclusivity.
13. How will the day run in terms of timings and space?
On your initial visit, ask how weddings are usually timed and how the space is used for each section of the day. This will allow you to plan the flow of suppliers, decoration and music perfectly.
14. Can our guests stay at the venue and are there special rates on accommodation?
Having accommodation at the venue for the wedding party and guests is always a bonus. At Crewe Hall we offer the happy couple a complimentary room and hold accommodation for the party with a special rate on bedrooms.
15. What are the menu options and will we get to do a tasting?
You might not be thinking about the wedding breakfast just yet. However, the venue team should take you through the menu to give you a good idea of the options the venue offers.
16. What should our guests expect to pay for drinks from the bar?
As well as the wedding breakfast menu and the drinks you’re including for guests, you should ask if you can see the menu and prices for drinks behind the bar so you know how much guests can expect to pay on the night.