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Choices, choices, choices!???.. The wedding reception.

Could this work?

It is always the way, everyone loves a party and gets extremely excited about a wedding, but the biggest bit is always choosing the right venue!.  It is becoming, more and more important to select a place that ‘sums up’ both emotionally and sub-consciously everything about your big, before it even happens.  Everyone asks about the venue! and will have many opinions about your selection.

However, welcome to the mind field of venues.. there are so many, all are unique, all have many benefits and  advantages, and their own limitations. This blog will look at the range, style, methods, benefits and pitfalls on viewing, locating and booking a venue. This is alongside the history of have a separate venues and how this has changed.


17th century weddingBack in the 1700’s, a wedding reception was seen as a small gathering of friends and family, as a party of the wedding ceremony. Exactly the same as today.  The difference over period of time was where the reception was held.  Before World war II, it was usually at the bride’s home!  The style of reception, then depended upon the wealth of the family. Therefore, it could be a ball and banquet for a ‘upper class family and Royal society’. Or a afternoon tea, with lemonade and cake for a working class family.

In many family’s and village communities, to save on the whole cost, there were multi weddings on the same day. This is still practiced today in some cultures. afternoon tea

The popularity of mass reception locations, and the variety of locations has only appeared in the 20th Century.  This has been mostly due to the numbers of extended family and guests. Today, as many venues are being licensed for weddings – this has given a wealth of choice.  Therefore not only do you have the decision of ‘church’, registry office or civic service ( and which venue to select).  This is  on-top of the afternoon/evening reception venue as well.

Help I need a venue..what is out there?

There are 100,000 venues across the UK, all in different sizes, locations and designs. This is not counting venues abroad, or having your wedding reception at home or in the garden.   Both the events industry and property land owners have realised the huge market on ‘sub letting or hiring a space for public or private parties. You see many ‘hire’ signs outside pubs,restaurants gallery’s, concert halls, manor houses, markets and museums, compared to 30 years ago, especially at peak times of the year.  For instance, Christmas and new year spring-summer weddings.

Personally, I love hunting down a unique gem of a venue for a wedding couple. I also appreciate I am lucky having a very keen interest in history and the arts, to spot a new twist for a location. That combined with building locations both in London and Malaysia. For everyone, that is not the case, and even stepping outside of the local area and seeing what is available venue wise, is very daunting!.

The first triple question should be; What would you like?, where? and how much can you afford?.

Location, location, location: 

African weddingsThis is up to you. The only advice I would suggest, is if you are thinking of having a separate wedding ceremony ( i.e; in a church) then move to a reception elsewhere.  Think of the distance, double it, just to be sure – if there is ‘town or city event/ road works etc. And how your guests will travel between the too.

If you are thinking of a international wedding, on the beach, understandably the accommodation and flights for your guests will be important.  This is alongside a detailed map of where to go, how to get there and even taxi costs.


The style of venue’s:  

You really can have everything, at a price today. The key locations I have written below, and I would recommend you see as many as possible, under the style you like.  Where to find your wedding location, the easiest would be through a wedding planner. If you want to, only use for that service.   They are specialised in gathering and asking those questions!
If that sounds to much, you can use wedding directories and magazines, if it is for both a reception and ceremony. You can even contract the local travel information centre, and they will forward brochures of local venues – especially if it is a restaurant you require. The web, is a very vast ‘mind hole’ you many be even better to drive in the area you wish to marry and talk to the locals.

Many famous, beautiful and popular venues will book up, even up to 2-3 years in advance. So always have a few back ups.

Period manor houses, town houses, palaces and castles: 

corby castle

Amazing in decoration, unique in each room shape, and usually with outstanding views. That are all steeped in history, wonderful for an exceptional large or unique grand day.  Few points to ask when viewing';

  • Can you remove or re-arrange any of the furniture?
  • Can you have live musicians or a DJ?
  • Can the curtains be open? -as some period houses, protect their original art works from being away from direct sunlight.
  • Can use real candles (flame not LED)?
  • Is there new toilets? and disabled ones  near the reception area?
  • Photographs -can you use the grounds? – where is the parking?
  • Catering – who, how much, and what is involved?
  • Costs for spillages and breakages?
  • Venue insurance -if something does happen?

Hotels, country pubs and Restaurants:

They can variety in period design from being an adapted manor house through to a 21st century minimalist building. EastEnders set for a receptionMany restaurants today have there own particular theme and menu, and will wish to continue this for your wedding reception.  If you wish to break from their set up, it will cost and they may decline completely.  If it is a hotel, usually a bridal suite is available, and within the cost of the hotel hire, as well as options for accommodation for your guests.

Open spaces for Marquees and summer houses: 

A wedding reception in the countryside is very beautiful or near a lake, please be aware of a few additional points; outside venue

  • If it is within the grounds of a manor house, is there any events running that day (horse trials, charity events etc)
  • weather implications – can you move inside if the ‘sky opens?’ – or is that a separate charge?
  • How big is the summer house – for guests, or will some need to stand outside.
  • Can you put walk ways down on the grass? and run electricity outside?
  • Is the ground level for a marquee? or do you need separate ‘temporary licence and production construction.
  • Animals and public access, are you able to keep members of the public away?
  • car and lorry access; is it possible? or do they need to park and walk?

Beach Weddings: 

They are so romantic and picturesque. Just like any outside venue there will be limitations. A few extra questions I would suggest.  beach wedding

  • When  and what time does the tied go out or in? the same with sun rise/ sun set.
  • Is the beech open to the public?  ( you no not want it be a nudist beech or open to the public with dogs through your service).
  • What are the rules and regulations on eating and safety on the beach?
  • Can you swim or is the water not safe?

Unique and very usual 

inside a planeunderwater-wedding-warehouse weddingYou can have a wedding reception in a airport hanger, at Mcdonalds, football stadium, museum, under water, in a warehouse, gallery, or on a Yacht. Everything is very possible. As they say it is ‘you day’ however, depending upon your guests ages and cost. I would ask you to consider who is coming. For example, access may be difficult for older and younger guests. The last thing you need is complaints. The cost could be exceptionally high, if you need to supplier everything.  But for the wow factor, it is amazing and you and your family will away’s remember your day!.  Each of these venues will have their own health & safety implications, and I would suggest you gather as much advice as possible for any unique venue.

The cost bit: 

If you are having a separate venue for your reception, compared to your ceremony, naturally there will be a double cost. Venue can cost from as little as £35.00 a hour – up to £2050,0000, fall for a one day.  This is based on hiring the room, with venue staff and working order of the site toilets, kitchen’s, cloakroom, electricity and power.  The cost does depend on many factors, below are the key areas; These would need to be discussed on meeting any venue events coordinator. You can barter down a price on certain items, and requirements. But please remember to ask, otherwise they will not know and charge you. As they say, always read the small print.  Check when the deposit needs to be paid, and if there is a cancellation contract, or risk contact if something (hopefully not, does happen)


Dry-hire:  you have the space only!, usually this price does not include location catering, bar & waiting staff, cloakroom attendants, storerooms, lighting or sound assistance, venue furniture and any additional extra.  This is great, if you have a very unique idea, and are willing to provide, your own suppliers for the day. There will be no limits on what you will be able to achieve.

be careful!Hire rate with recommended suppliers: Most venues will automatically give you a list of what is included in a normal hire. Particular wedding venues, have separate wedding packages and are exceptionally helpful.   Usually this would include; catering with a choice of menu’s, the venue’s own furniture, dance floor, Sound and lighting ( they already have), accompanying staff for the reception.  If you do not wish to use a particular service, you may have an additional ‘buy out cost’ - be aware; this could be £1000’s of pounds.  They maybe restrictions to do with the hours of licence, and decoration to the venue, and hidden extras in the contract.

If you require dressing rooms, additional parking, tailor-made staging, additional sound and lighting, or decoration items from the venue to be used or moved, cloakroom set up, additional bars or service points. This all can be at an additional charge. Anything, must be agreed in writing on your invoice, otherwise it will not happen.

There are many additional questions to ask, if you are hiring live musicians ( due to safety testing, musical instrument tuning etc). If you are having a particular themed event, some venues are very particular  and will not allow a Gothic wedding for example.

Have fun, have every little question ready on your notepad, it is always perfectly fine to double check and ask. Though please before you pay your deposit.

Good luck, and any assistance, drop me an email, I would be happy to help.

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