How to Choose the Perfect Wedding Venue

By HOPP Team
Feature Image: Wrotham Park

Whether it’s a remote castle, a childhood parish church, an elegant inner-city hotel, or an empty field in the middle of the Cotswolds, the wedding venue you choose will come to be synonymous with your wedding itself. The architecture, scenery, and grounds will comprise the backdrop for every photograph, and the atmosphere it exudes will welcome your guests in the lull between their arrival and yours.

Until now, your wedding may have existed only in the form of a mental wishlist for colours, textiles, lighting and decor. But, as you begin your search for your own wedding venue, the tangibility of your upcoming vows will begin to intensify. 

Don’t be overwhelmed with your search for the best wedding venues; follow our guide to ensure that you truly find the place of your dreams.

Start with the Numbers

When planning a wedding, the two most important numbers to keep in mind are your budget, and your total guest list. Forgoing practicalities will only end in disappointment — or, even worse, last-minute panic. 

Your venue will demand a large portion of your budget; typically, you can expect this to fall in at around 50%. Of course, there are variable factors. Wedding venues that provide food and drink, decorations and waitstaff will typically cost more than blank canvases. On the other hand, this will require you to budget for your own wedding catering and service.

Begin with a clear idea about your budget; it may not be terribly exciting to sit down and crunch numbers together, but it will save you a great deal of heartache, trepidation and stress further down the line. And if a venue is too dear, don’t torture yourself — move on, and keep looking for a space that makes your heart sing.

The Wallace Collection

Similarly, you must always remain mindful of your guest list. Small changes can be made before your invitations are issued, but, if you have your heart set on inviting, say, one hundred and fifty of your friends and family, you will be hard-pushed to whittle that number down to fit within one of the small wedding venues that has caught your eye. 

A smaller guest list also places certain requirements on the space you choose. Visit a number of more intimate wedding venues, where your guests won’t be lost amongst sprawling architecture and wide, echo-filled rooms.

Consider Your Necessities

Yes, one of the wedding venues on your list may seem perfect, but if you find that the stipulations contained within the contract are at odds with the rest of your wedding wishlist, you will need to think very seriously over its suitability for your big day.

For instance, if you have already made up your mind that you would like to create an elegant, French bistro-style reception, and the venue requires you to follow one of their own wedding menus with their in-house team of caterers, you could end up committing yourself to a wedding that does not meet your expectations.

Of course, planning a wedding will always entail a certain amount of compromise; a candlelit ceremony is the height of romance, but hosting it in the middle of an ancient forest is worrisome — to say the least.

The real question, then, is where do your boundaries lie? What aspects are you willing to negotiate, and what comprises a necessity?

Make a list of the things you do not imagine negotiating on. This may be having the freedom to use your own wedding suppliers, having a sheltered space in case of rain, or a Juliet balcony for your wedding photography. If a venue contradicts any of your necessities, don’t be discouraged — the right space will be out there.


Stay True to Your Theme

The right venue can compliment the theme of your wedding, and provide the perfect backdrop to your decorations and personal style. For instance, castle wedding venues exude their own sense of history, grandeur, and luxury, making them one of the most popular places to have a wedding — particularly for those who want to evoke a sense of eclecticism and gothic romance as they speak their vows.

Bear in mind that many wedding venues can be decorated — although you will need to seek permission from the venue manager ahead of time. Look for potential as you make your rounds with potential locations. 

Brides and grooms who wish to make a statement have plenty of options when it comes to the more unusual wedding venues; across the country, there are repurposed spaces fit for unique weddings, from aquariums to Victorian theatres and, yes, even beaches. If you find a space that is not currently registered as an authorised venue, you can seek approval from the government — without it, your registrar will not be able to perform a legally-binding ceremony. 


Outdoor Spaces and Wedding Marquee Hire

Perhaps you are looking to balance romance with sustainability, or suffusing your wedding with a more bohemian or ethereal theme. Whatever your reasons, outdoor wedding venues offer a beautiful and natural mise en scène for your ceremony and reception; a dramatic landscape or lush grove will give rise to stunning wedding photography, and an organic sense of intimacy fit for a fairytale.

Under current UK laws, outdoor wedding venues may be used during the ceremony, provided it is held under a permanent, roofed structure such as a barn or pavillion. 

Established outdoor wedding venues are available. Alternatively, if you have a particular, special place in mind for your ceremony, authorisation can be obtained from the government. Without it, you will not be able to hold a legal ceremony, so make sure you send off your application well in advance to avoid delays and disappointment. 

Joseph Benjamin Marquees

These days, a wedding marquee can be an elegant and striking addition to outdoor wedding venues, and they offer an excellent, customisable space for brides and grooms to make their own. A wedding marquis will also provide shelter from rain and heavy sunlight, which will provide invaluable in the unpredictable UK weather.

Wedding marquee hire can be a more cost-effective option than hiring an entire building, though making it comfortable with heating, toilet facilities, and space for food service and dancing will all add to the final sum. 

Ready to begin your search for the perfect space? Browse our range of inspiring wedding venues now.

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Written by our Team of HOPP Experts.