Everything you need to know about finding your dream wedding venue

So you’ve just got engaged. Yay! But where do you begin when it comes to actually finding your dream wedding venue?

Aswanley, Aberdeenshire

FIRST STEPS

Ask yourself this. If you had to pick one or the other of the following two sets of criteria, what’s most important to you: for your wedding venue to be logistically convenient, or for it to be part of your ˜vision’?

If it’s the former, it’ll first and foremost be affordable, close to where you and most of your friends and family live, and the right size for the number of guests you’re inviting.

If it’s the latter, you’ll be looking for a venue that resonates with the style of wedding you have in mind, and you’ll be willing to travel a little further if it’s not right on your doorstep.

It will have a strong aesthetic “ either because it’s a sumptuous castle or country mansion that requires little decoration, or a blank canvas barn that gives you complete free rein to bring your dream theme to life “ and will make your wedding feel different to other weddings you’ve been to. This type of venue is usually (but not always!) on the more expensive side.

Obviously, the dream situation is to find a venue that ticks all the logistical boxes while fitting with the style you have in mind for your wedding, but it’s always good to figure out from the outset what you’re most willing to compromise on.

The Pearl Suite, Balbirnie House Hotel, Markinch

QUESTIONS TO ASK YOURSELF

Other factors to think about at this stage are:

  1. The type of ceremony you’re having (if you want to marry in a church, how far are you willing to travel to the reception venue?)
  2. How important it is for you to have exclusive use of the venue (that means you’ll have it all to yourselves, sometimes for more than one day).
  3. How much control you want to have of your day  “ would you prefer to start from scratch and source every supplier, or would you like a package?
  4. If you have guests with impaired mobility, you’ll need somewhere access-friendly.
  5. Whether or not you want somewhere with on-site accommodation.
  6. The style of wedding photographs you’d like to have “ if you’re envisaging scenic countryside shots, a venue in the heart of the city might not work for you.
Neil Wykes Photography

WHERE AND WHEN

Depending on the venue, the most popular dates (Saturdays in the summer months) are the most expensive and tend to get snatched up the quickest; around two years in advance.

And while it helps to know roughly what time of year you’d like to tie the knot, you don’t need to have an exact date in mind before you go to see a venue.

Remember that if you choose an in-demand date, you’ll have to be really on the ball with securing all your other wedding suppliers as quickly as you can, as they book up quickly during the popular months.

A VENUE ON A SMALL BUDGET

It’s easier to secure your ideal venue and suppliers if you go for a less conventional date, and you could save some money doing this too.

Having a winter or mid-week wedding (from Sunday to Thursday) can knock a couple of thousand pounds off the price, which can help you get that slightly-out-of-reach dream venue.

Keep your eyes peeled on social media if you want to have a quickie wedding, too, as venues often run special offers to fill up empty dates in the current year.

Strathallan Castle | The Gibsons

PACKAGE DEALS

A lot of venues do packages, which is great if you want to have lots of things included for one consolidated amount.

At their most basic, packages will give you a choice of menus and a number of guests at a set price. They often include your drink reception and canapés, and can occasionally include décor.

Venues will most likely have more than one package to suit different budgets, and will often swap features out from each one to cater to the precise needs of their couples. If there’s something you would like but it doesn’t appear on any your venue’s packages, put it forward to them anyway.

Remember to double check bar prices at your venue (if it has one), because no one will thank you if it’s £7 for a G&T “ especially if it was a trek for everyone to get there!

STAFF + HIDDEN COSTS

It’s not the first thing couples think about when they book their weddings, but good staffing can make a big difference on your big day.

“I’ve seen some venues and caterers be too lean when it comes to staff, which can affect things like the speed in which food comes out or how busy the bar is,” says Emma at Timeless White Wedding Planning. “I suggest to couples that they should have one member of staff per table of guests, and for a guest list of more than 100 they should have three people on the bar, even if it costs more.”

Another thing to be mindful of is hidden costs. “Be aware of extra charges,” warns Emma.

“Check what’s included, if you haven’t accounted for VAT and corkage charges “ things that might trip you up.” Remember, too, that with some exclusive-use venues and barns, as well as marquees, you will have to organise the catering, staff, bar and décor, so these are all extra costs to be mentally added on at the beginning, rather than at the end.”

Now it’s time to start your search for your dream wedding venue in Scotland!