10 tips to choosing your wedding venue - Wedding Album

10 tips to choosing your wedding venue

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Choosing your wedding venue is a daunting task. It affects a chunk of the cost and sets the tone. It can make or break your big day. So, where do you start? Wedding Album chatted to local planners to give you an insider’s view on venue hunting.

1. Decide what you’re looking for in a venue

Amy Langston, a wedding and events planner in Cape Town, suggests: ‘Write out a list of objectives, split into non-negotiables and nice-to-haves.’ Ask yourself questions like city or country, beach or forest? Big or small? Ceremony and reception at the same venue?

2. Start your venue hunt with a Google search

Wedding photographers’ websites or online directories are a good place to start. Andrea Brand of Weddings by Andrea cautions: ‘Directories are a great resource, but you can miss out on the real gems. Look on local tourism websites too, as they often list venues.’

3. Request information from the venue and most will be happy to send a document via email

‘If a venue isn’t forthcoming via email and insist on a site visit, they are wasting your time!’ says Amy. Also, double-check that the venue is able to accommodate the number of people you’re expecting and is within your budget, of course.

4. Once you have a shortlist, plan a site recce

Amy advises going to see at least two venues in one day for easy comparison. ‘Make sure you tick off all the important criteria from your checklist, as it’s easy to get caught up in the moment. You will forget which venue had the tent included and which had to turn off the music at 11 pm,’ she says.

5. Find out what comes standard

‘Many venues include the hiring of necessities such as cutlery, crockery, tables, chairs, linen and staff, as well as an on-the-day manager,’ says Andrea. Others don’t – you’ll likely want the former.

6. Venues can recommend suppliers, but check if you have to use a specific supplier

‘This often limits your flexibility and determines how you will spend a large chunk of your budget,’ says Amy. If you have to use their caterer, Andrea suggests that you insist on references and a tasting test, and double-check that they can accommodate any religious and dietary requirements.

7. Find out about corkage

‘Compare the costs of the venue’s wine list to what you can purchase the wine for, plus corkage,’ says Amy. ‘And don’t forget the value of convenience – this also has a price.’

8. Make sure the venue has a weather plan B

Amy warns that couples often get caught out, as they don’t budget for a contingency plan, and venues need to hire in infrastructure at your expense. ‘Always get a competitive quote in advance so you can make an informed decision,’ she says.

9. Be prepared to pay anything from 50% to the full venue fee to secure your date

‘Some venues require a breakage deposit, which is refunded after the event,’ says Andrea. It’s worthwhile making a timing plan to understand what needs to be paid by what date, to manage cash flow.

10. Watch out for extra costs!

One way around this, Amy says, is to always budget for the worst-case scenario. ‘Additional costs can include set-up and breakdown costs, gratuity for the bar and food, overtime venue hire and staff fees, additional ceremony chairs, a kitchen-hire fee should you bring in an external caterer, on-site accommodation, and a generator.’

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