You've picked your perfect location, you've set the date, so now the fun can really start... Here I've popped together some essential tips for what to do next and all the useful questions to ask, because knowing your venue inside and out will save you plenty of time and stress.
1. Measure up!
Once you've booked, head back to the venue and get measuring. To help, they may already have a detailed floor plan, but if you know there's specific furniture to fit in, lights or garlands to hang across the ceilings or a space you'd like your band to go, take the details early and you'll save yourself a lot of time.
2. Get Snap Happy
If you're feeling like every time your asked to describe your venue it's turning into a game of extreme charades, head back and take lots, and lots, and lots of pictures: the more you can show a supplier when you meet with them, the easier it will be to decide how best to use the space and make some magic!
Another super handy-hint, that suppliers like your band, caterer and lighting companies will love you for, is to find out a little more about power supplies to your venue. Think locations of points, levels that can be supported and if you have to pay anything extra for using it! This is especially important if you're using a dry-hire venue or celebrating outdoors/in the remote countryside, so don't be afraid to do a little digging.
4. V.C or W.P?
Confused? Don't be! A Venue Coordinator (V.C) will be someone based at your venue specifically to assist with events and weddings, whereas a Wedding Planner (W,P) will be someone you bring in to support you in the run up, on the day or both! If your venue has a coordinator then it can make life a lot simpler, as they will know the venue inside and out, will already have a lot of the answers to your questions sorted and can sometimes liaise directly with your suppliers. However, a word of warning, V.C's can't support you with all of your planning (they might only work part-time or have dozens of other events to oversee), and many can't take responsibility for supplier management, set up and guest management on the day, so make sure you get a clear understanding from the outset and bring in an extra pair of hands to help if you need them.
5. Who's Who
Which leads me nicely onto tip no. 5: Take some names. Not in a threatening, Die-Hard sort of way, but in that the more people you know at your venue, the easier getting your questions answered can become. If you can, try to touch base with everyone who will be playing a role in your day, whether it's on-site security, technicians, catering managers and of course the V.C themselves!
6. Access all areas
If you can look at a venue through the eyes of your suppliers, you're halfway there! Take some notes on parking restrictions, access, steps and transport links so that you can rest assured everyone will make it in on time, plus find out about any restrictions with decorations - some venues don't like helium, open flames or items hanging from the ceilings/walls, so check in advance if you want that 50ft balloon arch and fire-dancer to make it in...
7. Step by Step
In the same breath, your guests' experience is also pretty important(!), so make sure you do a walk-through of their journey throughout the day, from ceremony to reception, reception to dining and beyond - plus have a think about if there are any moments where the weather could literally rain on your parade and come up with a contingency!
8. Clear up and Clear out
No-one likes to think about it, but eventually the night will draw to a close, cousin Bernie will have been coaxed into a taxi at the promise of a kebab and the clear-up will need to commence. Some venues will give you until the next day to get everything sorted (although, from personal experience, do not attempt to go and clear up your own wedding venue with a hangover!) however many, especially in the summer months, will need everything to be left sparkling before dawn. Have a chat with your Caterer, as well as any of your other suppliers who will have items to collect, and make sure you have someone there to oversee the whole thing, so you can leave, relax and recover from all that fun!
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Love, Kate x