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  • Writer's pictureLauren Gilbert

Scottish Venues: How to Choose 'The One'

Congratulations! You are #engaged!! Now it is time to find your dream wedding #venue. Finding a venue is probably the biggest logistical decision that you will make for your wedding. Narrowing down your search into three categories can help determine which type of venue you are looking for. What is the capacity of the venue? What is the location of the venue? Does the venue fit with your theme?

Finding a venue is a huge milestone for your wedding and gives you a date to save! Choosing how hands on you want to be with your wedding can also be a huge help with finding a venue. Once you have a venue, you can begin to source other suppliers and bring your wedding dreams to life.

Deciding on the #Guestlist

Firstly, drawing up a rough guestlist with your partner can help decide the size of your wedding. If you are considering getting married abroad, have a guestlist for both away and home so that you can research venues for both before deciding what you want to do. Remember, a bigger guestlist means that you will have to invest in a bigger venue which can be costly. Once deciding on a rough guest number, choose an affordable budget for your wedding. Your budget for your evening reception should be roughly 45% of your overall budget and should include catering, bar, cake and venue. Choosing your venue capacity means that you can be realistic with your budget. The last thing that you want to do is choose a lower budget and then discovering that no venue can accommodate your numbers.

If you are planning on inviting 200+ people to your wedding, you may want to consider a hotel. Often, these venues have ball rooms which will be sufficient enough for your numbers. They are also highly experienced in providing catering and a service to a high volume of guests meaning that your guests will receive their best level of customer service. Having your wedding in a hotel means that the caterers and bar staff are selected for you, meaning that you only have to choose what you want to eat rather than taking the time to source a caterer. This can be time efficient but remember venue packages often cost more than selecting a venue and caterer separately. It can also mean that you are a lot more restricted in your decision making.

Another option to consider when having higher numbers is a marquee. However, this can be season depending as you probably won’t want to have a marquee wedding in the middle of winter. Remember to think of your guests when considering a marquee. Marquees do give you control over catering and decoration, much like a blank canvas venue, so you can ensure that you get your theme spot on!

If you would like a smaller wedding, Village or Town Halls or small estates can be perfect for providing a more intimate and private setting. These venues can also provide you with a wide range of options for catering and décor, meaning that you can dress the venue to your style, giving you the option to be very hands on with your wedding. These venues are often seen as ‘blank canvases’ for these reasons and can become a lot more personal to the couple. However, you could easily get carried away with hidden costs and touches for your wedding meaning that you can go over budget fairly easily with this type of venue so it is important to discipline yourself when it comes to decision making.

Perhaps you have always dreamed of a beach wedding. The good news is - celebrants in Scotland have permission to perform ceremonies anywhere - as long as they have the landowner's permission! As before, consider your guests before choosing a beach wedding - elderly guests may struggle to walk on the beach and guests will need to be warned about choice of shoes - the same with any outdoor setting. Before getting married on a beach, it is crucial to check what the tide does - you don't want to be standing in water up to your ankles whilst saying your vows! Always have a Plan B in case the Scottish weather takes a turn or logistical issues on the day arise meaning that your ceremony must move indoors.

If you are having your wedding at home, you must take into consideration where most of your guests are based. If your guests are from Glasgow and you would like to get married in the Highlands, it is unrealistic that your guests will be able to travel up and back in a day and therefore, you should offer hotel suggestions on your invitations and on your website. Alternatively, if you would like to get married somewhere such as St. Andrew’s, you could consider putting a coach on for the guests that would find it difficult travelling. It is important to remember that you have no obligation to do any of these things but it would help logistical problems on the day of your wedding. It may also be good to choose a local venue for you – it saves travel stress on the day of your wedding!

If you are getting married in a different venue to the reception, you need to plan travelling time to get from the ceremony to reception. Remember, guests mingle after ceremonies before heading to the reception venue so choosing somewhere close is wise. It is important to look after your guests on the day of your wedding and to ensure that they are not bored or stressed from travelling between venues!

If you have decided on a destination wedding, you should take into consideration the distance that the venue is from the airport. Furthermore, you should contact hotels in the area that you wish to get married for any group booking discounts for you and your guests. Although you are not expected to pay for accommodation, it may be a nice touch to have all of your guests under the one roof. Finally, if you decide to get married abroad, please research the marriage laws in the country. Some countries do not allow you to get married without being residents or Nationals to the country.

Choosing a #theme

Choosing the theme is the focal point of your wedding. Would you like a modern or vintage setting? Would you like a glamorous wedding or a simple wedding? These will determine not only the venue that you choose but will also influence your wedding dress, entertainment and décor. Choosing a theme will also depend on the time of year you would like to get married. You may want a Winter Wonderland wedding or you may wish to go for a boho feel. Every part of a theme will influence the type of venue that you choose.

Make a list of ‘venue must haves’ and ask the #venue!

Do you have a family dog that must be part of your ceremony? Ask your prospective venue if this is allowed! This is a great way of eliminating venues before visiting and falling in love with it before finding out that it does not fit your needs and wants. Another vital thing to check with venue is if that if the price given includes VAT as this could be a make or break for you and your partner.

Here is an example of a list of must have questions:

· Do you allow dogs in the venue?

· Are you available in *insert month and year*?

· Do you allow fireworks or sparklers?

· Can I bring my own alcohol?

· Do you provide a wedding coordinator or Master of Ceremonies?

· Are there parking facilities at the venue?

Other questions to consider asking may be

· My sister loves to bake cakes. Is she allowed to make my wedding cake?

· Am I allowed real candles?

· Can I have confetti?

· Is there a PA for music?

· Do you provide tables, chairs and linen?

Checking the finer details before visiting can help decide on whether you want to visit the venue or not. It can also give you a sense of understanding about what most venues allow so you can have a reality check with your wedding plans. Ask the venue what is included in the venue hire – do they provide your tables and chairs or do you have to source these? Are there chair covers? Do they have linen? Do they provide these for an added cost? These are important questions to ask before booking a venue to ensure that you stay within your budget. Furthermore, by finding out what is not permitted or included in the package before booking, you save yourself disappointment further down the planning timeline when you suddenly have an eureka moment in the middle of the night to discover the venue doesn’t allow what you have planned. Some venues no longer allow real candles so this is definitely something to ask a venue if you envision a candle lit setting for your wedding breakfast.

If you are getting married and having your reception in the same place ask the venue what the normal process is for the turnaround. Who does this? How long does it take? Do you have to hire someone else to help? Is there a different room for ceremony and dinner? All of these will decide how long the drinks reception will be after your ceremony.

Timing is also an extremely essential part of your day. What time will your suppliers have access to the building? What time do guests have to leave the building? Can you leave your décor overnight and collect it the following morning?

Visit the venue

Visiting a venue before booking can ensure that it gives you the right feeling for your wedding day. Some venues look spectacular online but when you visit, you find it lacks atmosphere that you desire. Book a summer visit or day time visit to the venue so you can see what is looks like in the light. You can book an evening or winter visit after this, especially if you plan to have a winter wedding. If you manage to book a viewing for the weekend, you may get to see the venue set up for a wedding which can help you decide if it is the venue for you – and gives you the opportunity to see some wedding inspiration! If you are struggling to imagine the venue set up – ask the venue what usually happens and if they have any pictures of this. Many venues have a lot of their set ups on Social Media, so always follow the venues that you are interested in!

On your visit it is important to ask yourself, can you envisage YOU getting married at this venue? It may be a stunning venue and it may tick the right boxes on paper, but if you cannot image yourself walking down the aisle, or celebrating your marriage in this place then it is pretty safe to say that this venue is not ‘the’ venue for you.

10 Top Tips for Finding your Perfect Wedding Venue

1. Write a list of must haves

2. Decide on a budget before looking for venues

3. Write a guestlist before looking at venues

4. Think of your guests when deciding on a location

5. Decide on how hands on you want to be with wedding planning

6. Ask the venue questions

7. Don’t go for the first venue that you see unless it feels like the one

8. Don’t be afraid to say no

9. Visit the venue in daylight before committing to booking

10. Ensure a venue is available for your time of year before visiting

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