As you’ll all know, very recently we made a huge change in our wedding plans. After losing family this year, it made me in particular readdress my thoughts about our wedding. We had previously booked our wedding in Florida, to combine with a honeymoon and our dream of taking the children to Disney. Admittedly there were several factors within this and reasons behind why we wanted to do things that way, but we were so happy with that choice and booked the trip with excitement (with hindsight probably more about the holiday at Disney!) Fast forward several months and losing family and a stressful start to the year changed things. Because what’s more important than having your family there when you get married? Nothing.
So we decided to cancel our Florida wedding and rebook in my home town. I think we knew that we’d made the right decision because we’re actually planning now, whereas we hadn’t before. We’d booked the trip but made no plans or really put any effort in to start. I think on some level that shows that our hearts weren’t in it. So now having booked two weddings (and admittedly cancelling one!) I feel like I’m well equipped to talk about the five things you need to do before you book your wedding venue. Which I hope will help future brides-to-be when their time comes to plan their big day.
Set your budget
Many of my friends have spent a lot of money holding their weddings. I don’t really know anyone who hasn’t spent a fortune. But we aren’t a single, young couple – we have two children and a house to maintain already. Plus we’re both thirty (well my other half is nearly thirty) so it’s harder for us to reasonably justify a huge spend. Don’t get me wrong – if I had £20,000 to spend on a wedding, I would! But ultimately that’s not the sort of money we a.) want to or b.) can reasonably afford to spend on ours. Setting yourself a realistic budget is very important because it’s a cut-off point. Without it, you’ll just throw money at your wedding until the cows come home – which will mean an amazing day with all the trimmings, but what about the stress of saving it in the process? The pressure it puts you under during that time? And what about the period of time afterwards when you may still be paying for it? Sitting down and financially planning what you can afford to save each month prior to a wedding means you know what money you have available. You can work on how tight you need the shoe-strings to be, and what sort of monthly spending situations you need to implement. Setting a budget is imperative – any wedding planner will tell you that. Plus it dictates all your choices from there on out because you’ll know how much you’ve got available for each deposit and booking (flowers, cake, decoration, venue etc.)
Decide on your guest list in advance
Another thing that most people don’t think to do before they book their venue, is write out their guest list. You’ll be surprised at how many distant relatives you and your partner will have between you! And seeing as you’ll pay per-head for your wedding, you need to have an idea of the numbers in more than a loose format. It’s also worth discussing how firm you want to be about who is coming – and who isn’t. If you’re on a tight budget who do you want there the most – close friends, or aunts and uncles you don’t really see? Everyone is different, but have these conversations and make these decisions before you book the venue. Doing it afterwards will likely see your total bill get bigger.
Visit more than one venue
Us women usually have a wedding Pinterest board long before we even get engaged – don’t we? So we usually have a really firm idea of what we want and where we want it. But there’s so many factors involved in booking a venue. Before you book anything though, make sure you’ve physically visited more than one place. We’ll usually visit the dream venue first and book it based on a heart decision – but if your budget doesn’t match your dream it’s tough. So make sure you go and shop around, visit more than one place and put your feelers out and be open minded. You may find a little hidden gem that ticks all the boxes that you didn’t even know about.
Check what’s allowed
All venues have different rules and regulations, so you’ll want to check these before signing anything. For example checking on things like corkage fees and alcohol rules – can you bring your own, or do you have to buy from the venue? All this affects the total cost of your wedding, you see. You’ll also want to check on things like fireworks – if you want them. We had thought about it but found out our venue didn’t allow them due to a nearby stately home. It didn’t affect our decision, but if there’s something important you want factored into your wedding, then check with the venue rather than assume it’s a given. That way you’ll avoid disappointments.
Book the registrar
Before I got engaged I had no idea how you did things with regards to what you book first. So let me explain – first you find the venue you want and ask them to temporarily hold the date. Most venues will do this for 1-2 weeks without fee (or for a very small fee) while you then go to speak to the registrar and make sure they are available to hold the ceremony, or if you’re marrying in a church, if the vicar is able to host you that day. Once this is confirmed, you’ll need to book the registrar (or vicar) and then go back to the venue to finalise and book your deposit.
…and that’s it! You’re booked! So although these might sound like little details, they’re the important things that I think would be useful to others who will start booking their big day. My overall statement is this: let your heart lead you – but don’t leave your brain behind! I’m loving planning my wedding and have so many wonderful decoration ideas, but we all need to keep a slightly practical head on our shoulders in order to avoid stress – which could overshadow the whole thing!