The Right Venue – Finding the One
Choosing your venue is arguably the most important decision you will make in your wedding planning. Your venue will set the tone of your wedding, help you envision what the day will look like and be where all of joy happens. It’s also where the bulk of your budget will go! You will spend most, or all, of the day at your venue so has to meet all of your practical needs, but also feel like the right fit for you and your fiance. Because of this, the decision can be overwhelming. And it doesn’t help that it has to be one of your first decisions in wedding planning, with most venues in the North West booked up well in advance. To make it a little easier, we’ve outlined 5 important considerations when choosing a venue to get you thinking about what you need, and a checklist to take with you on viewings. We recommend booking viewings with multiple venues as soon as possible, so you can make a decision that feels right. Luckily, there is no shortage of beautiful wedding locations in Ireland, which means there is one out there perfect for you!
Right from sending the invite, your venue will give guests an impression of what to expect from your wedding. To make sure this matches your vision, you need to be sure of what type of theme your big day will have. Spend some time before viewings considering what exactly your theme is, and keep reflecting on if the venue matches. If your theme is Fairy-tale Romance, venues like Lough Eske Castle would be ideal. Similarly, if you envision a more rustic feeling to your day, an alternative barnyard location, like Brookhall in Antrim, would be perfect. Also, make sure to inquire about what decorations are available when you visit each venue, as these can help showcase your theme at any venue!
The next important consideration is your guests – specifically how many. There’s nothing worse than finding the perfect venue, and realising it doesn’t have the capacity you need. Make sure this is one of your first queries to avoid getting your hopes dashed! Mulroy Woods is an excellent option if you are planning a huge wedding, able to cater for up to 500 guests. But remember that even if you want a small, intimate wedding, a lot of venues will have a minimum number of guests too. Something easily forgotten, can be accommodation for you guests. It’s important to ensure that there are plenty of rooms or nearby accommodation for your guests, especially if your wedding is not local. For example, as well as boasting 120 rooms, the Clanree Hotel is perfectly situated for guests to stay at nearby hotels if the hotel is booked up.
Location is everything! On a practical level, you will need to consider how far the venue is from your ceremony, how your guests will travel and if you are willing to provide transport. You may have your heart set on a sunny wedding, in which case a destination wedding, in Spain or Portugal,would be perfect – but consider travelling for a visit to really get a feel for the venue. Another important element of the location is the aesthetic. We all want beautiful wedding pictures, and choosing a venue where the location has lots of beautiful, natural scenery is a huge advantage. The Redcastle Hotel, for example, has a beautiful terrace overlooking the Lough Foyle for photos or even to hold your ceremony .
Whilst budget may limit your venue options, it’s important to remember that venues have a range of options in terms of price. If you fall in love with a venue, but feel the quote is out of budget – ask if there are options that would reduce the price, such as using your own decorations or providing your own entertainment. Remember, it’s not just the general price you should consider, but how much the initial deposit will be, possible payment plans and when the full amount must be settled. Also – establish what exactly is included in this price – champagne reception, parking, entertainment? Our top tip would also be to inquire about dates during the week, or off-peak times – these can be significantly lower!
Lastly, consider what extra perks the venue can offer. This can be on the day itself, such as champagne receptions, or discount for guests on the venues services. For example, The Shandon Hotel and Spa offer wedding guests discount for pre-wedding spa packages, and discounted use of the stunning thermal suite for all guests the morning following the wedding. Venues can also offer online packages for sending invites, discounted room rates for the bridal party, table centre-pieces, flower arrangements and even complementary anniversary dinners! Make sure to ask what perks can be included when you visit, you’d be surprised how these could influence your choice!
- Is it within budget?
- Does the price change on weekdays?
- How much is the deposit?
- Is it available on my date?
- How far in advance can my date be reserved?
- Are payment plans available?
- Can the ceremony be held here?
- Is there an inside and outside ceremony setting?
- Is decor included?
- Can I bring my own decor?
- How many guests can we have?
- Is there a minimum number of guests?
- Does it match our theme?
- Is the lighting good?
- Is there a wedding coordinator?
- Is there a nice area for pictures?
- If not, is it local to where we want to take pictures?
- Is it local and easily accessible for guests?
- Is there room for a band or DJ?
- Is there a room available for the bride and groom on the day?
- Will any rooms be included in the price?
- Will guests have access to discounted rooms?
- Will we require transport for guests?
- Is there free parking on site?
- If not, how much does parking cost?
- Is there a minimum guest count?
- Is catering provided?
- Are external caters allowed?
- Are there noise restrictions?
- What is the cancellation policy?
We hope this list will help you gather all the information you need to make the perfect choice for your day, but remember that the most important part of choosing a venue is how it makes you feel! Picture your day taking place there, and if it feels right – you know you’ve found the one!