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Whether you're looking for a church or a castle, home or Cyprus, use this guide to make your search for the ultimate venue an easy one!

Initial Thoughts

First work out exactly what it is you want from the venue. Do you want to hold your ceremony and reception in the same location, or separately? Are you leaning towards an intimate affair or hankering after something more lavish?

You should also think about when you're planning to get married. Are you looking at a winter or summer wedding? And does your planned day clash with any major sporting fixtures? Although you might not care about the Olympics or Euro 2004, it's possible some of your guests might! You don't want people sloping off to watch television, so visit www.events.co.uk to ensure your wedding is the only event people are thinking about on that day.

Back to Basics

Whatever your ideas, you're going to need to strip it down to basics and consider your budget, and also what's legal. Many couples decide to hold their ceremony and reception in one location. This not only means your worries of how to get your guests from one location to another are minimalised, but also holding your day at a multipurpose venue can save money. However, before you make any firm arrangements you will need to ensure your venue is licensed to hold marriages. (Check the Wedding Planner page to work out what is an approved building).

Numbers Game

Before you start your search you need to get an idea of how many guests you're expecting. You won't be able to get away with an intimate venue if you're anticipating hundreds of guests, and similarly, if you invite a handful but want to entertain them in a mansion, there won't be enough people to fill the venue so your guests might feel uncomfortable. Once you have an idea of how many guests to expect, it's time to start looking for your dream location! Many venues get booked up quickly, particularly in the summer months, so the earlier you start your hunt, the more likely you are to get your first choice.

The Search

Why not be a true princess and hire a castle for the day? Or perhaps you're a traditional girl at heart and want to hold your reception in your local village hall? Whatever you want, different facilities suit different types of wedding. If you want to keep things romantic, then consider a historic country mansion with original period features and expansive grounds. Or for an intimate reception, why not dine in luxury at an opulent restaurant? (Zucchini's or Pavarotti's?) Recently married friends (or Paphos Post Brides!) are an excellent source of information as chances are they will have looked at some of the places that you're intending to visit. Likewise, the Internet is another fantastic search tool, as there are a number of sites that can provide you with the inspiration you need to find your dream venue. Check out www.noblesvenue.co.uk and www.weddingvenues.com for a comprehensive list of more than 3000 potential locations. Also, local authority websites in the UK should list licensed venues in the area, and failing that, Yellow Pages are sure to list a range of suitable venues.

What to Look For

Once you've found a few venues you like, make a short list and arrange an appointment to visit them. From the moment you make that initial phone call, note how polite and accommodating the staff are. Try to remember how efficient each member of staff was and how friendly and helpful the management were when you called, as these will be the contacts you'll deal with on a regular basis, and also the ones your guests will have contact with! When you visit, don't be afraid to ask awkward questions. You need to know whether or not your wedding will be the only wedding at the location that day and who is responsible for clearing up afterwards. Make sure you ask about all the hidden costs such as corkage and service charges, and find out if you have the venue for a certain time or if there's a possibility you'll be able to let the party overrun.

Picturing the Party


As you walk around each venue try to get an idea of how you would like the room laid out. Think about how you will arrange your banqueting tables. Is there a suitable space for a DJ or a band? Will there be enough room for guests to dance? If a room is too small then your activities could be cramped, and if it's an odd shape you may find that the space won't be used to its full potential. During your tour of the venue check to see how many electric sockets there are for your band or DJ to use, and also look at the flooring. A hard surface is likely to amplify sounds while a thick carpet will tend to muffle them. If you have your heart set on the soft sounds of a harp and there's thick carpet on the floor you may find the romantic tunes will be lost.

Another important consideration is lighting. Be aware that your reception may need a certain amount of artificial light if the venue is relatively dark. If the room is struggling for natural light make sure your photographer is aware of this, otherwise some of your wedding pics will also be quite dark.

If you're considering a venue that's likely to hold another wedding when you plan on having yours, visit it again when there's a dual wedding happening. This way, you'll see for yourself how good the facilities are and how much noise another wedding will make and interfere with your own celebrations.

It may seem like a lot to think about, but it's important to get the finer points right in the early stages before you get too far into the booking and money has changed hands.

Costly Considerations

If you're finding that your budget is too stretched to cover the type of venue you really want, there are ways around this problem. Usually, weddings are more expensive on a summer Saturday, so consider moving your celebrations to a Friday or a Sunday.

Venues that offer an all-inclusive package can be a lot cheaper, particularly if they are offering you a deal on guest accommodation and your first night. If you decide to opt for a tailor-made wedding package, then you will be able to choose the elements such as drink, flowers and entertainment yourself, and you may find you can source cheaper alcohol and food elsewhere.

And Finally

Make sure that you choose a venue where you can relax and enjoy your wedding. Your special day is likely to pass by in a flash, so make sure you pick a location that's truly memorable and perfect for the wedding you want

Check List

· Is the venue licensed
· What may be the hidden costs
· Do you have a written contract and is there a cancellation & refund policy
· Do you think you will get on with the staff
· Is the venue suitable for the time of year



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