The search for a venue was a long and difficult one. I was aware that the average cost of a wedding at the time was over 20k, and I knew I didn’t even have half of that to play with for my own wedding, so I needed to make sure I could afford the venue.
The very first thing any bride should do is work out what budget you have. One of the ways to do this is to work out how much you think you can sensibly save every month, and when your ideal date to get married would be. For example, if you think between you, you can save £100 a month, and your ideal wedding date is in 2 years time, then 100 x 48 (months) is £4800.
With this figure in mind you may then decide to up how much you save each month, push the wedding back/forward, or if you haven’t already done so approach your parents to see if they would like to contribute towards your wedding. Some brides feel comfortable doing this, and others don’t, some parents offer to contribute towards the wedding as soon as you tell them you are engaged. However, few say at this point HOW MUCH they will contribute, maybe because they don’t know themselves. The conversation can be difficult, but it is important for budgeting reasons if you are going to ask them, to ask them if they plan to give you a certain amount, or if they want to pay for certain things such as the venue, or flowers and transportation for example.
A wedding can be done on a budget of £4800, I know brides who have done it. With a budget like this in mind it is important to think about what is important to you. For some brides the most important thing is to have all your family and friends at their wedding, for others it is to have a lovely dress and an intimate relaxed day. Figuring out what is important to you, will help you greatly with your budget, as it will enable you to work out what you can live without on your wedding day and what you can’t.
With your budget in mind you can then start to look at venues. The venue for your wedding will be the setting for your day; it is what provides the background and the feel to your day, so it has to suit you. If you want a laid back day, you will want a less formal venue and if you are having a small number of guests you will want a venue that size wont drown your guests. So this is one of the biggest wedding decisions you will make. Don’t feel pressured to stick to a ‘traditional’ wedding venue, if Don’t Tell The Bride has taught us anything, the venue should reflect you as a couple, so if that means you want the reception in a night club or a museum then do it!
One of the easiest ways to save money is to choose your venue wisely. Start off looking on the internet to find venues in your area that you like. If they don’t have prices on their website (and many don’t) then contact them to arrange a viewing. Take your fiancé, a friend or your mum along with you as it can be very overwhelming and it is easy to jump to a decision that isn’t best for you due to how emotionally charged the whole wedding planning can be. Looking around different venues will give you a good indication of what you like and what you don’t like. Make sure that the questions you ask include:
- Availability of the venue on the dates you have in mind
- If you would get exclusive use of the venue or not (for some people having exclusive use is very important, but not so much for others). If you wont have exclusive use of the venue on your wedding day, ask who will be using the venue, what facilities would be used, and if they would be able to go freely into the areas you are in.
- If they have accommodation for you and your guests. A venue may seem nice but it can be a nightmare if it doesn’t have rooms for you to stay in the night before or after the wedding.
- Ask if you will have access the day before the wedding so you can set the venu up with decorations etc. If you do not have access the day before the wedding, you will have to think about who is going to set up the decorations (table centrepieces, bunting, sweetie buffet). Some venues will set your table decorations up for you.
- And finally how much. They will most likely ask you how many guests you would be having to the day and evening among other things, so go with a rough idea of numbers in mind. My venue were amazing and drew up a cost sheet for me, of the room hire, how much food and drink would cost etc, so ask if they can do a similar thing for you.
Make sure you take a note pad and pen, for writing down key information about the venue, as it can be really hard to remember all the details once you’ve seen a few different venues, and the notes you make when visiting each venue will really help you when making your decision about which one is the right one for you. When I first visited my wedding venue with my Chief Bridesmaid I made notes such as: Plenty of rooms for guests to stay in, good disability access, want the L-shaped room. When I then went over the pros and cons of the venues I had viewed my notes really helped to keep clarity.
Lastly – HAGGLE!
(read my haggling tips here)
Don’t be afraid to ask them for a reduction in the price, see if you can work out a deal with them. Tell them what your budget for your venue is (usually, roughly half of your overall budget) and ask them what they could give you for that. A booking is better than no booking, so venues are often happy to work something out with you within reason.
Going for cheaper menu options for the wedding breakfast can massively reduce the cost, soup and chicken are often the cheaper options, and venues will sometimes give you a discount if you have a certain number of guests booking rooms at the hotel for the night of the wedding.
The months from September/October to April/May are cheaper months, and in recent years September, October and April have been fabulous weather wise! So definitely think about going for one of these months instead of the traditional summer months which can be much more expensive. Another way to save a lot of money is to have your wedding on a week day, Monday –Thursday weddings can massively reduce the overall cost. So a Thursday in October = cha ching!
I hope you find this helpful, and I’d love to hear from you about how you chose your venue and whats tips you’d give on what you do first on the road to planning your wedding.