How to choose the perfect wedding venue

by | 24 March

Merriscourt Barns


The perfect wedding venue, does it exist?  There is so much choice available now for couples, but here are some tips on ensuring you find that perfect venue.  Finding and booking a venue is one of the first stages of wedding planning that needs to be addressed fairly quickly.  Even if you have decided that you would like to hire a wedding planner to help you, you still need to make decisions on location, general style of venue and numbers.

I specialise in weddings in the countryside and typical venues are country houses, well appointed barns and of course marquee sites within the grounds or parkland of historic houses.  Some couples will have a ready made venue if they wish to get married at their parents and have a marquee in the garden.  This last choice gives you so much flexibility and a blank canvas to build that perfect wedding day.

My top tip is that venue search is best broken down into stages as follows:

Stage 1

  • Decide on the location and research suitable venues within that location.  It helps to have an idea of numbers so that you can concentrate on venues that cater for that number.
  • Does the venue have to provide space for ceremony and reception?  If so, you need to ensure that there is a room for the ceremony, a room or outside space for a drinks’ reception and a room for the wedding breakfast and dancing.
  • If you are getting married in a church or holding a ceremony in a different location make sure that the reception venue is no further than 30 minutes away.  You do not want guests getting held up by traffic along the way.
  • If a venue ticks all the boxes but is not perhaps what you were thinking of, it is quite often worth having a look as websites can be misleading.

Once you have come up with a short-list of venues to visit, make appointments to view and take a list of questions to ask and things to look out for.

The Monks’ Refectory, Notley Abbey


Stage 2

  • When you arrive at the venue, what is your first impression? Does it feel right? Can you imagine the place on your wedding day filled with your guests, or would it take huge amounts of decoration to personalise it or make it pretty.
  • What are the staff like? This is important as you will be dealing with them throughout the planning.
  • Do you have exclusive use of the venue?
  • What time does the reception have to end?
  • Do they have a cut off time for the music? Many venues will have a cut-off time of 11.30 pm but some offer a late night extension.
  • Do they monitor the noise level? If they do, ask them what the required level is so that you can tell your band or DJ.
  • Do they have in-house caterers? If so, ask to see their menus and whether it would be possible to arrange a tasting.  If you love the venue but the food is not what you are looking for, you could ask whether they would allow outside caterers.  This of course will be subject to an additional charge.
  • Do they have a recommended supplier list or can you choose your own suppliers? If they have a recommended list, have a look at the suppliers to see if they appeal to you and will fit with your vision for the day.
  • Do they allow you to provide your own wine and champagne? What is the corkage charge if they allow this? If you wish to provide your own alcohol, it is worth looking at dry-hire venues which don’t charge corkage.
  • If they don’t allow you to provide your own wine and champagne ask to see their wine list.
  • If you are taking over the venue for the weekend, ask what their timings are for check-in and check-out.
  • And of course you will need to discuss their flexibility with booking.  If you book a date which then has to be changed due to further lockdowns what is their policy on re-booking and refunds.


Ardington House, Oxfordshire

Stage 3

  • You are now hopefully in a position to go ahead and book your perfect venue.  But before you do, take out wedding insurance as this is so important.  If you have engaged a wedding planner they will book the venue on your behalf but you will be responsible for wedding insurance.
  • Book your venue and make sure that you sign a contract that will secure your booking.
  • You are now ready to start thinking about all your other suppliers.
  • If you are thinking of getting wedding planning at any stage, wedding planners offer many different services as well as Full Planning, such as Partial Planning and Wedding Day Management.

The best of luck and enjoy,



Photography: Suzy Elizabeth Photography