Wedding Planning: Venue Scouting

Wedding Planning: finding a venue

So wedding planning has officially started – eek! I may not yet be very experienced in the process of planning a wedding, but I’m already starting to pick up tips, plus I want to keep a bit of a diary of how it’s going ahead every so often on the blog too. I’m going to keep certain things to myself for now as I know many of the guests will be reading some of these posts and I want to keep those a surprise, but there will still be plenty I can talk about and share!

We got engaged in December and said at the time that it would be around 2 years until we got married. This was because we’ve got plenty on our plates at the moment as it is with Florida and some house renovations – some people rush to get weddings booked and used services such as swiftmoney.com in order to pay hefty deposits up front, and while we’ve got plenty of savings and options, we’d prefer to be in a position where we’re not feeling under pressure with travel and home plans plus weddings! We did consider a wedding abroad – initially, we warned friends and family that we might be considering a wedding abroad – specifically America. We wanted it small and personal, somewhere that we love and that means something to us. Despite the fact that I have only ever lived in the UK, I feel “at home” in the US, especially the type of areas we’ve stayed on our RV trips like National Parks, woodland, lodges and lakes. We also love the more relaxed and casual feel that American weddings have.
There were a lot of potential venues that I scouted across America, with the favourites being in New England, Oregon and Idaho. But we were really limiting ourselves with these – it would mean only certain friends or family members would be able to make it, and we’d have to have a party back home too that would cost just as much and would take just as much, if not more, organisation. Wedding budgeting is a massive consideration for not just us, but our guests too. We’d initially thought that not many people would be bothered about coming to see us get married and would prefer to save the money and just come to the wedding party back home, but it turns out that people do want to come to that bit! Plus there’s the budgeting for hen and stag parties too, which can be a lot more nowadays than it used to be. So in the end, we’ve come to the decision that we’re going to stay at home – more than anything, we want our passport-less grandparents there.
But we’re also waiting for that time because we’re in no rush. We’ve been together for nearly 9 years now, and it took 8 and a half of those for us to get engaged! We also half-joked that it was to give us time to enjoy being engaged and so that we didn’t have to get stuck into wedding planning straight away. As it turns out, we pretty much did have to get planning quickly!

The thing you need to know is that venues get booked up, fast. I mean, I knew this before. Everyone’s always saying how if you have a specific date you want to get married, get it booked immediately before it’s taken. But what I didn’t expect is just how entirely many places are booked. Read below for more, but some we’ve enquired at are already booked until late 2019 now, which is almost 3 years away!
We don’t have a date we have our hearts set on at all – we’re very open in fact! Ideally we’d like to get married in May or September in order to have good weather but be out of school holidays for future anniversary trips, but we wouldn’t mind if it was April or June, even July and August or October wouldn’t be a problem. In fact, we’ve even discussed a potential winter wedding too. Basically, if we found our perfect venue and they only had one date left, we’d take it, no matter what month it was.

So we left it a few weeks and started researching venues in late January. Again, I don’t have a very specific idea on what I want our wedding to be, and neither does Ben. We don’t want a church wedding as, although I’m religious, Ben very much isn’t and feels uncomfortable in churches. I don’t want to feel like he’s uncomfortable stood at the altar on the day that’s supposed to be the best in our lives, so I’d prefer to have the wedding elsewhere and both of us feel comfortable and happy. To be honest, for me the main part of getting married is the afterwards – the being married.

Like I said, we have no real specifics for what we want; in fact, we (I!) have far too many ideas – have you seen my Pinterest?! We’ve narrowed down what we want our venue to be though – relaxed and somewhat casual, with an outdoorsy aspect, accessible for family and friends, and ideally, somewhere that means something to us.

We’ve so far viewed 2 venues. The first was in late January and we very nearly went with it for a September 2017 wedding where they had a cancellation! It was literally down the road from my mum and dad’s house (walking distance!) and consisted of 2 large barns, with the use of various other buildings, fire pits, a holiday cottage and gypsy caravan for bride and groom, plus a camping fields for guests. It was gorgeous and we really liked the fact that it was where we grew up. We decided that September 2017 was just too soon though in terms of booking caterers, entertainment, photographers etc. unless they could offer us a considerable discount. Unfortunately, their service wasn’t great as by the time we’d discussed it and went back to them a couple of days later, they’d already booked that date and then told us they had no dates at all left in 2018 or until late 2019! So we decided that wasn’t right for us.

This weekend, we went to visit another venue. It’s a fairly local brewery (I may at some point link to these, once we’ve had the wedding perhaps) and has some really good things going for it including a gorgeous bar area where they provide you with their own beer at cost price (plus a personalised beer pump and bottles as wedding favours!), as well as extensive gardens and views. This would be an outdoor ceremony with the reception inside a marquee in the brewing barn. We liked it, but not quite enough to go straight for it. We don’t like certain types of marquees – we really only like yurt or tipi style ones, and this was of the type we don’t like, plus it was set up inside. It’s, unfortunately, a bit of a mark against it for us. It’s also quite out the way for us and family – it took us over an hour to get there on Saturday. That one has a potential date of September 2018 (and we’ve actually provisionally booked one, but at this stage, we probably won’t take it).

So right now, we’re planning to visit another venue next weekend and hopefully another (very local!) one during the week or weekend too. We both really like these two options, so hopefully they’re just as good in person, then we can make a decision. One however is unavailable (due to refurbishment) until 2019, so we’ll go with that one only if we really like it in person. Stay tuned for more on our wedding planning journey!

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2 Comments

  1. Lynsey
    February 15, 2017 / 9:37 am

    So exciting! Look at as many as you can then you’ll know when it’s ‘the one’. We didn’t get married in a church for the same reason but chose a country house type place, last year we renewed our vows there for our 15th anniversary which was so special, we were able to do this because it was a Wednesday so very cheap. We got married on a Friday which was cheaper at the time too.

    • Sian Thomas
      February 16, 2017 / 10:49 am

      That sounds so lovely! I really like the idea of renewing your wedding vows on your anniversary 🙂 We’ve got a couple more to set up to view then I’ve had details from lots more, so narrowing down those as well now – it’s all very exciting!

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