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Shortlisting and booking a wedding venue

After enjoying an initial internet search of venue options, you will start to get an indication of venues you like the look of, and now the real fun of venue visiting can begin. Below is a practical guide that covers everything you need to know about shortlisting and selecting a wedding venue.

If you need guidance on where to search online or how to create a venue wishlist, jump back to our page on researching wedding venues.

wedding Venue Shortlisting

picking a day to get married - which season to get married - wedding guest accommodation

How to shortlist 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.

    wedding Venue Visiting

    How to arrange a wedding venue visit

    Wedding venue visits should be fun and romantic. Take it easy and enjoy the search. If you turn every weekend into a relentless search or pack every free minute into searching/contacting venues, you will get wedding burn-out very quickly.

    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.

    wedding Venue Visiting

    Top tips for wedding venue visits

    To condense the number of follow-up visits, it is essential to combine; scoping out the local accommodation, amenities and public transport links along with a venue visit.

    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.

    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 by getting food somewhere local.

    Staying for dinner is particularly crucial if you will have out of town guests who may need a recommendation for the night before.

    wedding Venue Shortlisting
    What to expect from a wedding venue tour

    Do 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 wants and needs.

    Venue tours will often follow a strict order of the day; starting from getting ready and the ceremony through to the wedding breakfast and reception. This is designed to give you an insight into how your special day would 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.

    wedding Venue Visiting
    Questions to ask when visiting a wedding venue
  • 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

  • wedding Venue Selecting
    How to finish a wedding venue visit to keep your options open

    As most couples prefer to view a few venues and compare, 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 support 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.

    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.

    wedding Venue Selecting
    What to expect when booking 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)
  • Food preference to be selected (not exact choices but the general style, i.e. Informal buffet or three-course menu)
  • 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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