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How to choose the right wedding venue

Updated: Sep 8, 2023

Wedding tables with colourful streamers hanging from the ceiling.  Fringed wedding banner hangs by the window saying 'Just Married"

Image via Heather Sham

The venue is one of the first and most important on your to-do list when planning a wedding. It feels official when you book it - save the dates at the ready!

When I say one of the first, I mean before you book anything, you have to have a very clear vision of your wedding design.

Your venue interior will be your base aka backdrop. Plainer the base, the greater the styling opportunity. You have to think, will this clash with my wedding design? Trust me, it happens. It happens a lot! And then there's very little I can do to help tbh. If in doubt, get me on board and we can find the perfect space for your wedding design to come to life.

(Sorry, can't help it. I'm a design nut and the wrong backdrops stress me out :) Back to the venue search...)

Let’s explore a few different venue options, think about logistics, look into the pros and cons, and what to ask when you visit:

Tipi or Marquee Wedding:

For all my festival people looking to throw a crazy good summer celebration.

  • Find out the total cost of the hire, which will include: venue grounds, portaloos, electrics/generator supplier, double or triple top tipi hire, kitchen tent hire, tipi delivery cost, setup cost, takedown cost, furniture hire, lighting, stage, dance floor, props if they offer, etc.

  • Check if the tipi size you’ll need for your wedding party will fit in your venue’s grounds. (If the wedding isn’t in a huge field, the venue gardens might have restrictions)

  • Access; suppliers and guests.

  • Accommodation & transport for your guests.

  • Think about the weather! Would you mind if it rains? Footwear – no point in investing in expensive shoes – you will ruin them. Have some wedding wellies on standby? You might need to hire out umbrellas, wellies for all and heaters too. You might need to hire an extra stretch tent last minute if you planned an outdoor ceremony, for example.

  • Ask about the open flame rule for candles, fireworks, fire pits & bonfires.

  • Check the timings.

  • Read the T&Cs!

Woodland Wedding:

  • Ask for the venue hire cost.

  • Check for capacity.

  • Access; suppliers and guests.

  • Nearest accommodation & transport for guests.

  • Setup & takedown.

  • Recommended suppliers *

  • Think about the weather and what's plan B if it rains.

  • The open flame rule (candles).

  • Ask for timings.

  • Read the T&Cs!

Rustic Barn Wedding:

  • Ask for a venue hire cost and what comes with it (furniture?)

  • Check for capacity.

  • Check for recommended suppliers – you ideally want to dry hire this so you can dress the venue and eat exactly what you like. If they have any recommended suppliers, do check them out as it could be that they might be just perfect (plus the venue manager knows them well and can vouch for them), but ask for flexibility if you don’t like anything they offer. If that’s a no-go, I would extend my search. The last thing you want is to have to use suppliers that don’t go with your wedding ideas!

  • Ask for setup the day before & takedown the day after.

  • Kitchen facilities?

  • The open flame rule (candles, fireworks, fire pits, etc.).

  • Ask for timings.

  • Read the T&Cs!

Urban Wedding Venue:

If you want a city wedding and only a cool urban venue will do, there are some wicked venues. They usually come as dry hire (my fave!), which means you get to dress it any way you want – you can have your perfectly sourced suppliers and make it exactly how you want it to look.

Ask about:

  • Venue hire cost.

  • Capacity.

  • Parking access for guests.

  • Supplier access.

  • Recommended suppliers * (same as above)

  • Setup (could you do it the day before?) and takedown (the day after?)

  • Kitchen facilities.

  • Ask for timings.

  • The open flame rule.

  • Read the T&Cs!

Restaurants and Pubs:

Probably the easiest to organise as you already have the kitchen, bar, and staff in place. So, if you like their food (book in menu tasting) and just want a good old knees-up, go for it. The décor choice will have to fit in with the venues, but if you’re not that fussed, and are happy with some streamers and florals, Bob’s your uncle.

Some don’t even charge for the venue hire if you spend enough cash behind the bar. Easy.

Weddings at Historic Buildings

For high-end budgets.

There are so many beautiful old buildings with sensational interiors in the UK. We are spoiled for choice. If that is what you always dreamed of, be prepared to spend a substantial amount of money.

The venue hire cost will reflect that of course - could set you back somewhere in the region of 15K. But that is merely the tip of the iceberg!

Let me explain.

Old school wedding venues, mostly in beautiful historic buildings or hotels will have their own recommended suppliers, and these are set in stone, which means that you won’t be able to bring in your own suppliers regardless of you not liking theirs or you not being able to afford them!

Usually, these recommended suppliers are chosen by the venue according to their status and experience (and insurance) to operate securely in their venue (and who can blame them!). Most often these high-end vendors have longstanding paying contracts with the venue.

This means, that once you book and pay a deposit for this venue, you will be obliged to hire one of their recommended caterers, florists, production companies, etc. with very little or no wiggle room for negotiating on price.


Let’s say you have 100 guests and a £50K budget.

From my experience, the production quote could come up to 20-30K (this is for lighting, audio, engineers, contractors, furniture, etc.).

Catering could be as high as 40K. The service, staffing & equipment costs will cost more than the food!

Florals could be somewhere between 10-20K.

And that’s before the booze, which if you were sourcing yourselves let's say, the corking fee will set you back £5 per guest! Entertainment you can bring in yourself though (let's say 2-4K), the photographer you can choose yourself too (let's budget 2-4K), extra props hire that has to be brought in by one of venues suppliers for which they will charge a 30% sourcing and handling fee, DJ you can book yourself (let's budget it at 1-3K), stationery can be yours too (for invites, signage and on the day stationery 1.5K), celebrant/registrar/rabbi you can bring in yourself for anything between £500 to 1K.

Then there's your wedding attire, rings, transport, and accommodation cost on top.

If you add this all up, it's already double what you originally thought!

So, before you book your historic wedding venue, please inquire about their recommended suppliers, and get your Excel sheet out (If you fancy doing all this on your own, you can book a wedding planning boost session with me here, where I give you my mega wedding planning bible that has a budget comparison calculator), and start collecting and adding up quotes. It’ll be clear very quickly if you can afford this wedding or not.

Better still, if you’re not sure, and you feel a bit stuck and your hand forced to decide on things you aren't happy about, get in touch with me to help you out. I exist to guide you every step of the way and help you NOT make the common mistakes couples make when they’re planning their wedding.

Whole Lotta Love,

Zuza xx

P.S. (Download my FREE 12-month wedding planning checklist and subscribe to my mailer for loads more wedding planning tips!)



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