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Wedding planning guide

Venue - Suppliers - The dress - Bridal party - Stationery - Final touches

Wedding venue tours

Once you have researched what type of venue you want, it is time to start shortlisting and visiting these magical venues. Below is a practical guide to shortlisting venues, venue tours, questions to ask, and how to select the right venue for you.

If you need guidance on how to start looking for venues, read this article: researching wedding venues.

shortlisting and booking a wedding venue

Shortlisting wedding venues

From a long list of venues, it is worth contacting six venues for further information. It is also highly recommended to make a list of the people you speak to so you can avoid any embarrassing overlaps. When making initial contact, you should provide the below details:

  • When you are ideally looking to get married.
  • Number of day wedding guests
  • Request information on the wedding packages available and relative costs (make sure that it is explicit whether VAT is included or not)

It is wise to collate the responses, so comparisons are easier to make. Once you have decided on your order of preference, start by organising visits to three or four venues but leave all other options open, just in case your initial favourites are not suitable. Wedding dates can move quickly, and it is important not to restrict your choice too early.

Related articles: picking a day which season to get married guest accommodation

shortlisting and booking a wedding venue

How to arrange wedding venue tours

When arranging a visit, it is recommended to call rather than email; this will enable you to build a rapport with the venue and get an instant time/date. Do expect to have to book at least two weeks in advance for full tours. Where possible, opt for weekday viewings as fewer people will have the day off, and it can give you time to consider without worrying about getting your date gazumped.

Once a date has been confirmed, if your plans change, do cancel and avoid no-shows; these affect others and may mean you miss out on a venue at a later date if you change your mind and want to see it again.

shortlisting and booking a wedding venue

What to expect from a wedding venue tour

Expect to like every venue you visit and, as such, try to look beyond the beauty of a venue to see if it meets your wishlist. Venue tours will often follow a strict order of the day; starting from the bridal dressing room and the ceremony room through to the wedding breakfast and reception areas. This is designed to give you an insight into how your special day will flow.

To limit misunderstandings, it is wise to devise a 'couple code' before turning up, so you can communicate when you like a venue subtly as you walk around. If you both love a venue, let your consultant know as they will give you more information.

shortlisting and booking a wedding venue
How to make the most of your wedding venue tour

To condense the number of follow-up visits, it is recommended to combine the below activities when visiting a venue: This will ensure that your choice is an educated one and will suit all of your guests, not just those with cars or more to spend on hotels.

  • scoping out the local accommodation and amenities
  • frequency of public transport and abundance of taxis
  • parking options nearby

An excellent way to do this is to start with a coffee in a local café and then to finish the visit with a look around a few hotels or get food in a local restaurant. Staying for dinner is particularly crucial if you will have out of town guests who may need a recommendation for the night before your wedding.

shortlisting and booking a wedding venue

Essential questions to ask on wedding venue tours

  • Will you get exclusive venue hire or will other weddings take place on the same day?
  • Is there good ventilation or sources of heat depending on the season you are picking?
  • Are there any restrictions on entertainment /drinking /finishing hours?
  • Do you have to use the venue's suppliers or can outside entertainment/catering be used?
  • What does the guest/family accommodation look like and how much does this cost?
  • Is accommodation booked through the venue or are you expected to pay and re-claw money from guests?
shortlisting and booking a wedding venue
How to finish a wedding venue visit

As most couples prefer to view a few venues before making a decision, your wedding consultant is unlikely to give a hard-sale, but in any case, it is worth asking about potential dates, package options and catering. If nothing else, this will provide you with a benchmark for other venues and suppliers.

It is also worth understanding the amount of wedding coordination that the venue will provide. Some well-oiled venues will have wedding co-ordinators who help to make life very easy, while others may have limited support or consultants at an additional cost. Where possible, it is recommended to opt for this service to ensure your plans progress smoothly.

When ending a venue visit, make sure to leave the conversation open and polite, unless you are both keen to seal the deal. If your ‘couple code’ dictated the latter; ask to have a quick walk around by yourselves to discuss logistics and check if you can pop back to their office later.

shortlisting and booking a wedding venue
How to book a wedding venue

To book a wedding venue, you will need to provide the below information:

  • Date
  • Number of day guests
  • Number of evening guests
  • Ceremony/room selection (if there are multiple options)
  • Catering style (formal or buffet)

A deposit will also need to be paid to secure the date. Where possible, ask to confirm specific details at a later date by email so these can be formally recorded.

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