Where do I begin when picking a venue

Hartsfield Manor, Bletchworth

So before you steam off newly engaged into the obis that is wedding venue searching, take a step back and make some decisions. It is easy to spend hours trawling around unsuitable venues simply because you haven't done your homework. Like with everything to do with wedding planning there is more to it than just going out to look at nice things.

1. Decide on an estimate number of guests, this will make a massive difference to where you can look. Having the optimum amount of guests in a space is more important than it's often given credit for. You don't want 50 guests sat 3ft apart from each other in a massive ballroom that can seat 1000. Likewise you don't want 300 sitting on each others laps in a marquee that only fits 100.

Buxted Park Hotel

2. Have an idea of style and how much involvement you want. There are such a variety of wedding venues available now. From a big empty space in a field that you'll need to fill yourself, to a large scale 'package' type deal in a ready made event space such as a hotel or manor house where you can literally turn up. Picking the venue will set the tone for the rest of your wedding plans and style. If you want a rustic wedding with lots of DIY detail, wild flowers, hessian and burlap with outside catering then you're unlikely to want a 5* hotel. Likewise, if you want a formal sit down meal with opulent flowers and detailed architecture, a barn is not for you.

Finding out how much time you want to commit to the planning stages is definitely worth giving consideration to early. DIY sounds great until you actually have to DO IT YOURSELF. For some, this is fabulous and enjoyable. For others this is a nightmare an could end in disaster. Be realistic when you set out as to how much time you have and whether you actually even enjoy crafting. If you don't like it now you certainly won't like it when it comes to your wedding decor.

PapaKata Wedding

3. How far from home do you want to travel. This may seem simple but remember when choose a venue you will revisit it repeatedly before the day itself. It's ok picking somewhere with the understanding that you will be fine for the wedding but you'll have to go back for update meetings, menu tasting, styling meetings. These may be difficult to fit in if you lead an already busy life and have to travel hours to get there. Also when it comes to booking suppliers you will need to choose ones close to the venue you're getting married at. Or be prepared to pay travel costs to those further away. Vetting and checking work from these suppliers is difficult if you are not local. If you LOVE a venue but it's not close this may be the ideal time to enlist a wedding planner local to the venue. They can then chase around with suppliers and get things set in motion for you to prevent you going back and forward.

4. BUDGET. Potentially the most important consideration. One of the biggest pieces of advice I can offer is never view something you know will be more than you want to spend. If you do, you may find nothing else after that is good enough.

By simply deciding on these thing you will half the time you spend looking at venues. Search online, call up and ask pertinent questions on the phone, ask about and see if anyone you know has either had a wedding in that venue or knows of someone who has. The more information you can find out before you visit the venue the better. This will also set you in good stead for those important questions to ask once you're there.

Bartholomew Barn

So you have narrowed down your venue options and now you're going to view some. Be prepared. You will only get a small amount of time to make potentially a big decision.

1. Ask if you can take photos during your visit, the likelihood is after seeing a few venues your recollection of them will start to cloud. Like when you view a new house you want to go home and think it all over with as many visual aids as possible.

2. Check the venue caters for your numbers and find out what the catering options are. Do you want to bring in caterers or do they only allow certain ones? If you want to add on items such as a sweet cart, dessert table, ice cream van or edible favours do they charge an additional price or simply forbid it? If you don't check this now and ensure it is in your contract you could regret it later.

3. Accommodation. If the venue has in house accommodation do they offer preferred rates to guests? If they don't do they know of anywhere local that does?

4. Are you able to set up the day before? If not who is responsible for setting up on the day?