Recently got engaged? Congratulations! Get ready for a life of love and happiness with your special soulmate – all starting with the big day: the wedding!
A wedding day will be one of the best days of your life. When I take photos at weddings, I can see in the bride and grooms’ eyes just how happy they really are.
And it all starts with the choosing the perfect wedding venue. Just take a look at some of these happy faces:
You can skip a cake, a dress, a bouquet of flowers – but you can’t skip a wedding venue. And, unfortunately, choosing the right one is harder than it looks.
Feel like getting married traditionally in a church or a ballroom? Maybe something more outdoorsy – like a beach? How about going a little bit wild, and having your ceremony in a barn? Or how about you do something really crazy – and get married on an airstrip?
If you’re thinking about planning your wedding, read on for my tips to consider when picking a venue:
Talk with your partner first
It’s important that both of you are on the same page.
Maybe one of you is adamant that the wedding must be indoors. One of you may have a family tradition of getting married in churches. Perhaps one of you may want to elope or get married in some forest somewhere in the jungles of Brazil. The possibilities are limitless!
The point is – it’s important to set the record straight first with your better half. Find out what each of you will consider, and the absolute no-nos.
If you get this settled before you start searching, you’ll save unnecessary stress and arguments later down the track.
Speak to a wedding planner
It’s always an excellent idea to get some ideas from an independent wedding professional.
Yes, it can get really complicated – so people specialise in planning this stuff.
Planners are very familiar with what options are available, the layout you’ll need, the time it takes to book and the different items you’ll need to make it the perfect day.
In Melbourne, where I live, there are so many amazing wedding planners that are creative and experienced in what they do.
If you pick the right one, they can help you transform your vision into reality.
I hate to bring it up … but everything costs money.
When it comes to weddings, everyone gets excited. That means we tend to spend without thinking and, before you know it, finances get out of control.
Your budget will give you a framework – and you’ll know what venues to choose from if you have this at the front of your mind.
So you’ve found a venue, and it’s within your budget. But will you need to pay to hire extra chairs and tables? More food than you thought? Perhaps even accommodation, if some of your guests are travelling far and can’t pay for their own?
Everyone hates these nasty surprises. Ensure you have all the costs down pat.
Are the venues you’re looking for actually available on the dates you’ll looking to wed?
Take note that some wedding venues may be booked months or even years in advance. This is especially so around holidays (Christmas, Easter, etc.) and also on special days like Valentine’s Day.
If it’s not available, either:
- pick a new date; or
- find a new venue altogether.
And once you’ve found a venue you like that’s available on the date you want, book it right away. If you delay, there’s a risk that someone else will snatch it up.
When it comes to wedding venues, size matters.
Now that there are no caps on people allowed to attend weddings in Victoria, you can invite as many people as your like – but subject to the size of the venue (which, at the time of writing, must comply with the two square metre rule).
You don’t want your wedding venue to be too small (and have everybody cramped together) or too large (and have people walking a half marathon to approach you)!
Communication with your venue here is key – ensure they have the capacity to accommodate the number of guests you want.
If you’re planning to have your wedding in a remote area (like a farm, a desert or on a getaway island), consider if there are places for your guests to stay.
If your guests are unable to get home safely after the festivities, there might be problems later on.
Avoid these problems early on and make sure your guests can stay in a nearby hotel, motel, AirBnB or any place where they will be safe.
Whilst your wedding is your day and all about you, it’s extremely important to have your guests in mind. They are, after all, your loved ones too!
Does your venue offer in-house catering? If so, that’s super duper! If not, you’ll need to find someone to feed you and your gests!
If your venue offers catering, see what they provide. Will it be be a simple a la carte service, a sit-down four-course meal or an all-you-can-eat buffet? This will have a major impact on the type of wedding you’ll have.
Will their options cater for all guests? For example, do they have vegetarian, gluten-free or halal options for the guests that need them?
The more flexible they are with their food, then generally the better!
Access and parking
These seemingly little things make a big difference. In fact, it could end up being the reason why some guests miss your ceremony.
Imagine your guests friends and family turning up to the address on time, only to spend thirty minutes trying to find the place and somewhere to park. Not fun!
Is your venue easy to find? Will it be too close to a busy highway (or, worse, a loud flight path), interrupting the festivities?
Is there sufficient parking? If not, will you need to organise a shuttle service to make sure your guests easily and on time? Consider safety – you don’t want your guests stumbling onto the street, at night, after they’ve been drinking, with no way to get back home.
If you and your guests want a drink (or several) during the big the day, make sure your wedding serves alcohol.
Most generally do, but it’s important to check – some don’t! A venue will need a permit to serve alcohol to their guests, and their staff will need by be RSA qualified, so make sure you’re across all those details.
Also consider what alcohol is served – is it necessary that they serve the fanciest cocktails of the lot, or will simple wine and champagne do the trick?
Flexibility if you need to reschedule (or cancel)
In our COVID-19 environment, anything could happen. Restrictions could be imposed, wedding numbers could be capped or lockdowns can happen at any moment.
Make sure your wedding venue is flexible, and doesn’t charge you a colossal fee if you need to reschedule or cancel the big day altogether. Just check out these stories of couples fighting venues that won’t refund deposits for weddings cancelled because of COVID.
And it’s not just the virus. Sometimes the weather could get so bad that you’ll need to call the wedding off (although, that didn’t stop this couple from getting married amongst the floods earlier this year)!
A photographer to capture the moment
Most venues don’t offer an in-house photographer. Which is where (excuse the self-promotion) I can step in to help!
Hint, hint: all the photos in this blog are my own!
I love taking photos that truly capture the love and the energy that comes with what’s often the best day of their lives.
Find your perfect wedding venue in Melbourne
My name is Shar, and I’m a passionate wedding photographer in Melbourne.
If you’re planning your big day and going about choosing the perfect wedding venue, give me a buzz and I’ll be more than happy to help you plan the photos for your special moment!