The period between Christmas and New Year is the most popular time of year to get engaged, prompting many couples to begin looking at venues for their big day early in the year. For the last five years, Google searches for the term “wedding venue” have risen in early January. 

Choosing a venue is one of the most important decisions of the wedding planning process and to help newly engaged couples Daisy Fothergill, Wedding Coordinator at the five-star hotel and Yorkshire wedding venue The Grand, York, shares her top tips for venue searching.

Image credit: Lucy Sayer Photography

Start with a list of non-negotiables

With so many things to consider when searching for a venue, a great place to start is by creating a list of non-negotiables to help narrow down your options; things that are essential for your venue to accommodate your dream wedding day.

Daisy recommends, “It’s best to have a cost figure in mind when researching venues, to help you avoid viewing and having your heart set on any that are over-budget. Consider what you are willing to spend and what you expect to get from a venue for that price, but keep in mind that you may need to adjust these expectations as you begin to explore your options.”

“When it comes to a capacity figure, you don’t have to write your guestlist straight away! But it’s helpful to have an estimate of the amount family and friends you’d like to attend. Don’t forget to factor in plus ones and children, as they can very quickly increase the guest count.”

View venues at the same time of year as your wedding

The season can have a huge effect on how a space looks and feels, so it’s a good idea to view any potential venues at the same time of year as you’re planning to have your wedding.

“If you’re having your wedding outside, viewing at the right time of year can show you how plants and trees at the venue will look and if they will be in bloom. For indoor weddings, the season is still an important consideration, as it will change how the room is lit. Winter weddings are unlikely to have much natural light, so in this case, checking the lighting in the venue is essential.”

“At The Grand, our historic and ornate red-brick façade brings colour to grey-day winter weddings and pops against summery blue skies. Inside, our opulent décor inspired by our heritage is complimented with large windows that help to flood the room with light and provide glorious views of York all year round.”

“Viewing at the same time of year can also give some indication of how the weather may be on your big day – although we all know the British weather is unpredictable at best! In the case of bad weather, it’s critical to view any ‘plan B’ areas of the venue to ensure you’re happy with them, especially if you’re planning an outside function.”

Image credit: Happy Otter Photography

Don’t overlook your guests

Whilst the newlyweds are the focus of the day, considering guests’ needs in your venue search will ensure that everyone enjoys the experience.

Daisy suggests, “If you’re likely to have any guests who need accessibility considerations, don’t forget to ask about these when you look around any venues. Older friends and family may benefit from these more accessible spaces, as well as venues with space for separating the entertainment and quieter areas to allow for conversation. If you’re inviting young children, parents may need a suitable area for nappy changes and feeds, or for high chairs to be provided.”

Explore venue packages

Daisy says, “Packages can be really helpful to take some of the pressure out of planning a wedding and leave more time for the happy couple to be to enjoy the process. It’s always worth checking what packages are offered when you’re deciding on a venue.”

“Our bespoke wedding packages at The Grand cater for everything from intimate weddings up to larger scale receptions and offer stays in our Grand Heritage Suite, as well as fine dining experiences at our three AA Rosette-awarded restaurant Legacy. Whichever package couples choose with us, it’s always an honour to help them celebrate such a romantic and joyful day in their lives.”

Use your imagination

Throughout the whole process of choosing a venue, using your imagination is key.

Daisy explains, “Though you may have a clear idea of how your dream wedding day will look, try to visualise this in different venues. Sometimes a venue can surprise you, even if it isn’t what you’d always imagined. Allowing yourself to be flexible on what your wedding will look like can make the process easier.”

“When viewing venues, see them as a blank canvas.  Think about how your wedding will work in the space – if you have chosen a certain theme, does this fit with the venue’s style? Will the colours from your flowers contrast the interiors of the room? Consider how anything you have already decided on will work in this venue.”

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