Pre Wedding Journals | A little helping hand to help you lock in your wedding venue!
If I had a dollar for every single time I went to write this blog I’d be at least $15 richer .. maybe we make that a thousand dollars for every time, then I’d be able to get married again - Almost!
One of those lightbulb moments struck me last week and I really don’t know why it took me so long. The most common question I get asked about wedding venues is if I have a list of venues around Christchurch and Canterbury? Well, in short, the answer is yes. I have a growing document but that is a business tool and my couples have the benefit of drawing from when I’m working with them directly.
The reason for this isn’t to hold information from you, more so that I never want to overcomplicate what can already feel like a complicated process in planning your wedding, although I absolutely promise that the venue search is the hardest vendor to book! When it comes to selecting your wedding venue it pays to have a fairly concrete idea of what you want out of your day, what it will look like and who you want to be there. From there I will suggest to my couples 3-6 venue options to look at online and encourage them to view their top 2-3.
Viewing this blog post HERE and running through the questions will set in stone about 90% of what you want to get out of your day, but there are a few more things to look for.
A lot of couples are on the fence about guest numbers when they come to me, which can make finding a venue quite difficult as you’re looking at completely different capacities. Couples either will have the smaller, intimate gathering in mind, or they’ll head towards the other end of the spectrum. Although my couples are 1000% welcome to do whatever they wish, my initial comment will always be the same - When do you ever hear a couple who had a small guest list regret making that call? It’s always the ones (myself included) that wish we had truly focused on those closest to us and most involved in our lives. Once that decision is made it really helps to narrow down the options.
In terms of how you want your day structured, you may be envisaging an outdoor ceremony. If this is you in the rain, hail or shine then you don’t need to worry about a backup (maybe just some umbrellas), but if you’re off running for cover if the heavens open, you’ll want to make sure your venue has a suitable indoor ceremony space. Depending on the type of couple you are, some furniture may need to be shuffled around, or you might be lucky enough to find a venue large enough to allow you to create clean and defined zones so there will be no interruption as guests mingle for cocktail hour. Think about the flow of the day and go through your options from there.
Your budget is also going to play a huge factor in the equation. Many venues will include certain items such as chairs and tables and can really help keep the cost to a minimum. Otherwise, you are going to need to look at bringing those items (and others) in so it is important to weigh up those extra costs when booking. My biggest piece of advice is not to discount a venue with a cost of say $4,000 over one that is $1,500 for discussion's sake. The one that appears more expensive may include a lot of extras that the cheaper option does not and the cost of those extras can mount up, especially with a larger guest list. Most venues will be able to tell you exactly what you need to hire if they don’t already offer it.
Think about the space when you are looking at the venue. You want to be comfortable on your wedding day so cramming guests into a space is not going to create a pleasant atmosphere. It’s also going to severely restrict your photographer from capturing the evening, and your caterers may also struggle to work around the tables. Ask the venue contact what numbers would comfortably fit into the space and in what arrangement and that will really help you determine your options.
Spending ample time with your guests may be a huge priority to you and if that is the case you’ll want to chat with your photographer about the nearby opportunities for photo spots. A lot of Canterbury venues are only minutes from the hills or surrounded by rolling fields so you never really have to go far, but the travel time can add up if there’s a select spot you wish to go.
Wedding catering is always a biggie. Depending on how you answered the blog post I sent you to earlier in this piece, it may help determine your caterer. Some venues do work with preferred suppliers and are locked down in the food and drink department whereas others are open. It’s important to note too what the kitchen facilities are like as if they aren’t up to scratch your caterer may need to bring in a mobile unit which may cost extra.
You might be party poopers or you may be the type of crowd that sings kumbayah into the early hours of the morning. Check in with your venue contact to see when the night entertainment has to stop, if there are sound restrictions, when the last drinks will be served and when you have to exit the building by.
Accessing the venue either side of the wedding day to pack in and out may be important to you, however, if you have a planner, stylist or coordination it probably won’t be. The last thing you want to be doing on your wedding day is setting up at your venue. It’s a stress you do not need and you want to be soaking up every incredible moment of the day from the second you wake up until the moment you close your eyes at night (or early morning). Again, if you don’t have a planner or stylist, is there a venue coordinator onsite to run the venue side of things? If not, I strongly encourage you to allow for at least an on the day coordinator in your budget. You will not regret it. Not one bit!
Depending on where the venue is located, it might not be easy for taxis, Ubers, buses to reach. Work out the parking options and find out if there are accommodation options on site or nearby. It’s only me sharing my personal preference here, but if I’m spending an hour in the car on the way home from a wedding I’ll be asleep by the 30-minute mark - There’s a photo, but it’s too epic to be on here!
Obviously, there are hundreds of other teeny tiny questions that all add up when it comes to the venue side of your big day, but I’m confident that the above is more than enough to help get you started. So, check out that other blog post and spend some time nailing what your day might shape up like and go from there. Along with these questions, you’ve got a recipe for success!
As always, I’m here if you need me from the smallest of questions or recommendations through to taking care of your entire day and more than happy to help - In fact, I’m waiting for you to get in touch!