Wedding Planner | The Venue

Bijou is a collection of elegant, exclusive use, country-house wedding venues in the Home Counties, Norfolk and Provence. As well as offering immaculate grounds and beautifully appointed bedrooms, Bijou also provide couples with an in-house catering team and wedding planning support. Here, the team at Bijou shares their expert advice on choosing your dream venue.

The Atrium at Botleys Mansion, Surrey

What’s the first thing to consider when you’re choosing your wedding venue?

Knowing how much money you have to spend on your wedding at the start of your planning will point you in the right direction for the styles of wedding venues you should be enquiring about. Your wedding venue and catering should cost around 50-60% of y our overall budget, so if you have a ballpark figure in mind, finding a venue to fit your budget is easier.

What is important when looking at the location of the venue?

When planning the ceremony, think about whether you want to book a church wedding or celebrate a civil ceremony at the venue (providing it holds a licence). This will determine whether your guests will have to travel between a church and the venue, or if everyone is able to arrive and stay at the venue until the end of the party. If you have a long journey between the church and the venue, you may need to provide transport. We also recommend you consider:
Location: Is the venue easy to find and is it located close to public transport or to an airport if you have guests who are travelling from overseas? If you aren’t getting ready at the venue on the morning of the wedding, consider how far will you have to travel?
Accommodation: If the venue does not provide accommodation, you may need to enquire if they can recommend nearby overnight accommodation, as well as a reliable taxi service.
Parking: Guests driving to your wedding will want to leave their car in a safe place while enjoying your celebration. If your venue doesn’t have a car park, where could guests park?

Notley Abbey, Buckinghamshire

What key questions should you ask an events manager when visiting a venue?

• What is included in the price/package?
• What are the venue capacities? Consider both day guests and evening guests.
• What time are we allowed in and out of the venue on the wedding day?
• If you’re planning a civil ceremony as opposed to a church one, is the venue licensed?
• Are my chosen wedding date options available?
• Will the wedding be fully staffed on the day?
• How does the catering work?
• Is there a corkage fee?
• Do you have a recommended list of suppliers?
• How do we pay a deposit and when would our final balance be due?

How many times should you visit a wedding venue before making your final decision?

Most couples admit to knowing instantly that their chosen wedding venue ‘felt right’. That said, booking a wedding venue is a huge commitment and one that shouldn’t be rushed. So, if you feel right about a venue, it is within your budget, and it has availability on your chosen wedding date, there is no harm in putting down your initial deposit immediately. Wedding venues typically have a cooling off period during which your deposit can be returned if you have a change of heart. If you’ve fallen in love with a certain venue then you may wish to bring your parents t o see it to give a second opinion, especially if they are paying for, or contributing money towards, your wedding.

Botleys Mansion, Surrey

How far in advance of your wedding day should you start looking at venues?

Typically, couples book their venue between 12 and 18 months of their chosen wedding date. However, wedding venues frequently have last-minute dates available at a discounted rate if you book within the next six months. The sooner you have a wedding date secured, the longer you have to plan all of the exciting elements of your day; from your wedding attire to the flowers, plus selecting the décor, entertainment and more. If there’s a certain date that you must have, the sooner you book, the better. You may be surprised when you start to look at venues at how little availability they have on Saturdays and during the summer.

There are so many individual elements and costs to consider with the venue – do you have a tip for keeping track of these so you can compare options?

If you base your venue comparisons on an all-inclusive basis, you’ll be guaranteed not to spend any extra money within your budget, once the venue cost has been agreed. By this, we mean ensuring that every detail, such as the tables and chairs, linen, glasswear, cutlery, napkins, service and VAT, are included. If you decide against opting for an all-inclusive package, you may find yourselves paying over and above your budget for elements of your wedding that you may have thought were included in the first place. This option also means you won’t have to source your own supplies, therefore saving you time, energy and money.

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