When we decided to get married in the South of France, we had to select the venue over a weekend trip since we were still living in London at the time. This involved a lot of online research followed by military efficiency on the venue visits and well prepared arsenal of questions. Making such a huge decision can be difficult and stressful, we have therefore prepared a brief guide to the things to look out for and the questions that you need to ask.
Here is a guide to finding your perfect venue:
First things first, if you are deciding to get married abroad then you will likely have a destination in mind, whether it be a special place to you both or simply somewhere you’d love to visit. If you haven’t decided upon a location then here are a few of the questions that you need to ask yourselves:
- Do you want a location that is sentimental to you both?
- Do you want a location that is close to your families?
- Do you want a location that is close to your home?
- Do you want an exotic location?
- Do you want to get married in a specific season? Do you want guaranteed sunshine or snow?
- Do you want a particular type of venue that can only be found in certain locations?
All of these questions, should help you narrow down a location or at least a country…
We decided to get married in Provence in the South of France for three main reasons. Firstly, Sarah grew up in the area and always dreamt of being wed there. Secondly, it is an area that we spent a lot of time during the infancy of our relationship and it was where we went for our first holidays as a couple. Thirdly, we wanted guaranteed sun and the South of France is as guaranteed as anywhere for this in the summer.
Once you have decided upon a location the next thing to consider is the budget. Most locations will have venue options for all budgets.
For example in Provence or the Côte d’Azur, we had many options including; renting a Chateau or large villa, chartering a boat, a mountain top wedding or getting married on a private beach. There are plenty of options for all budgets.
In England the options are slightly different but equally endless. You can rent an old Manor House, Castle, or Mill, or stick to a hotel, church, town hall etc..
Be careful when comparing prices though as the venues may in some cases include only the venue hire, some will include the food, some will also include the alcohol, some will charge for corkage fee. As the old idiom goes ‘don’t compare apples with oranges’. If you are trying to compare the cost of just a venue versus a place that includes everything, you should assume that food and alcohol will come to about £100 to £150 per person.
We chose to have our main celebration ceremony at Chateau de Robernier. This was the most expensive of the venues we viewed but provided accommodation and did not require any specific vendors meaning we could tailor the rest of our wedding to as cheap or expensive as we desired to fit into our remaining budget.
When searching for a venue; blogs or wedding websites such as (http://www.youandyourwedding.co.uk/ or http://www.marrymeinfrance.com/) are very helpful as they will narrow the venues by location and will also provide you with articles about real weddings so you can get a feel for what the venue has to offer. Additionally, we find Instagram to be a great source of wedding photos, these will either be linked to the venue (if it has its own Instagram page) or just search by the hashtag. Doing this enables you to get a glimpse into how other couples have used the venue and space and whether this fits with your desired feel.
The earlier you set out to search for the venue, the more likely you will be able to book the place of your dreams, with most weddings booking the venue up to a year in advance. Therefore, as soon as you have narrowed down the venue choice to a small number of venues, contact them to find out their availability and prices. This will also allow you to get a good feel for how organized they are – everything counts when you are narrowing down your search.
Other things to consider when narrowing down your search:
- Can the venue accommodate the required number of guests?
- If your official marriage will take place on the same day but at a separate location, how far away are the locations?
- Will you have exclusive use of the venue?
VISITING THE VENUES
Visiting the venue is possibly the most fun part associated with planning a wedding, however it can be ruined by the associated stress. Whether or not you are on a tight schedule for visiting venues, always come prepared with a list of questions such as:
- Is there sufficient parking?
- Is there on site accommodation? If not where is the nearest accommodation and what are the prices like?
- What is included within the price of the venue?
- Does the venue provide chairs, tables, decorative items?
- Does the venue have a list of vendors you must select from?
- From what time to what time have you got the venue for?
- Does the venue have a bar where guests can buy drinks? Does the venue charge corkage?
- If planning an outdoor wedding, does the venue have indoor alternatives in the case of adverse weather?
- Are there any external powerpoints? Will the venue supply the required electricity leads?
- Where are the best areas for pictures?
- Do they have an on-site wedding planner? Will they plan your whole event or just provide on the day co-ordination?
NEGOTIATING ON COSTS
Do not hesitate to negotiate the price – most venues we have dealt with tend to have been open to negotiations – this ranges from a discount for early bookings to breakfast included, or additional rooms for guests.