It is wedding season, and with that comes the nostalgia of thinking back to my own wedding. John and I are just a couple of weeks away from celebrating our seventh wedding anniversary and seven years on I am still glad with the choices we made in our venues, decorations and of course, each other.
Here are some of my top tips for choosing your perfect wedding venue whether you're looking for grand venues like Botleys Mansion (seriously, click here to check it out!) or something a little more intimate like The Thames Lodge where we held ours.
Planning your wedding with multiple venues
Choosing your ceremony venue
Some people prefer to have a small, basic marriage ceremony performed by a registrar at their local registry office. For these ceremonies they are able to have a more intimate setting and invite just those closest to them, as long as they have two witnesses.
Other people, like John and I, prefer to have a religious affair in keeping with their beliefs, and choose a church or other religious building to host their ceremony. There are a few things you need to consider when choosing this venue:
Do you attend or have a family connection a venue you wish to use?
John and I were married in the same Church his parents and other family members were, as well as being where John was Christened as a child. This meant it held a lot of sentimental value to us and was a big part of our choice to hold our ceremony there.
Is the venue local to you?
The church John and I used was not only sentimental, it was also our local church at the time.
Will it hold all your guests?
John and I invited over two hundred people to our wedding. We had to consider how many of those people would fit into our ceremony venue. Luckily enough all of them could!
The legal bit
When you are choosing your ceremony venue it is important to check with them about the legal requirements of marriage. Some venues cannot perform a legal ceremony whilst they may be happy to host it, others will require you to book a registrar to perform the marriage. Be sure to check before you book your venue, so that you know once you're married, you can sign your marriage certificate and start your official married life together with your new spouse.
To legally get married you will also have to 'give notice' of your intention to marry, regardless of the venue you choose, unless it is a Church of England ceremony in which case you are required to have Banns of Marriage read just as we did. This is required a minimum of twenty eight days prior to the ceremony, so be sure to check with your local council or the person who will conduct your ceremony about the legal requirements of you and your partner getting married.
Choosing your reception venue
When you are choosing your reception venue there are two aspects of the post-ceremony wedding day celebrations you need to think about:
What type of venue are you looking to host your 'Wedding Breakfast' at?
What type of venue are your looking to host your reception and party at?
Once you have decided if you want a big manor house with lots of land, or a smaller venue over looking the river like we had, there are three big things you need to think about.
Distance from your ceremony venue.
When choosing your reception venue it is best to have it relatively close to cut out travel time.
It's your special day, so it's ok to choose something because you like it, especially when it comes to the food you're going to be eating on the day.
What is available locally?
We choose to have just a few close family members and friends at our wedding breakfast., in order to keep the cost down. When planning a day like ours, it is important to check that there are places to eat and kill time for any guests who are attending both the ceremony and the evening reception later in the day.
Having your photos elsewhere
One of my closest friends, who is also Squidgy's godmother, chose to have her wedding photos at a third venue altogether, in order to have the pretty, outdoor setting she wanted. Wedding photos are one of the best ways to commemorate your special day, and so you want them to be perfect. Choosing which ones you have, and where they are taken is definitely a consideration you need to make when choosing your wedding venues.
Planning your wedding with one venue
Some people, for a variety of reasons, choose to marry in a venue that can host the whole day from start to finish.
Same land, different buildings
My youngest brother got married past year and chose a venue that could host everything from the pre-wedding prep in the on site lodgings to the cutting of the cake and first dance at their evening reception. Although it was the same venue, there was a variety of buildings and area to host the different wedding aspects which meant that you still had to move from place to place, but offering a beautiful setting for each. Venues like this often offer packages for the use of their facilities, and are often set up well for events.
Another option for a venue which can host all the aspects of your wedding is one where you simply move from room to room such as a manor house or castle wedding. When John's best friend was married in 2009 this was exactly what they had. From the grand entrance hall were a variety of rooms which played host to the ceremony, wedding breakfast and evening reception. This made it super easy for the guests in attendance, and the beautiful gardens and surrounding land were the perfect setting for some beautiful outdoor wedding photos.
So whether you are planning a big wedding or something a little more intimate these tips should help you to choose the perfect venue and ensure your special day goes off without a hitch; and hopefully you, like us, will look back with fond memories of your wedding day for years to come.
Disclaimer: This post is written in collaboration with Bijou Wedding Venues. Photos are copyright property of Me Becoming Mum.