WEDDINGS

LUXE FOR LESS: BUDGETING FOR THE VENUE

Hands up who’s been sporting an extra piece of sparkle on their finger since the New Year? Now engagement season is officially done and dusted, you’ve bagged your man and now all that’s left to do is plan one beautiful and spectacular party to celebrate your love!

We love a wedding, and while our focus at B.LOVED is totally all about the pretty, there are lots of nitty gritty details to get into when planning your wedding too. After the ring, and setting the date, choosing your venue is where the wedding planning journey really begins – and I’m sure a lot of you are feeling the pressure to get it just right.

While we’d all love limitless amounts of cash to splash on our Pinterest-perfect day, we’re all about affordable luxury, and nothing sets the tone more than a gorgeous wedding venue! It’s not just location, but looks, size but style, cost but, well, beauty! With the average wedding costing over £24,000 in 2015 (and around £4,000 of that spent on the venue alone) we understand it’s a daunting task!

Luckily for you our B.LOVED Contributors are a talented bunch, with years and years of experience between them. So today I’ve asked them to share their top tips for saving for your wedding and venue budgeting…

WHEN

Wedding season in the UK is May to September, so weekend dates during this month are going to be top dollar and booked up fast! If you can be a little more flexible on your dates it’s likely you’ll find more venues doing special offers. April and October are great months and you can often catch a little unexpected sunshine! December is also a great option – whether you go for a traditionally cosy Christmas wedding or all-out glamour with a New Year’s wedding bash (what a way to spend NYE!) If the summer months are still calling your name, why not consider a weekday wedding? These can be really fun, especially if you can persuade your guests to take a mini-vacation too!

Don’t expect other suppliers to extend the same offers though – a wedding cake or photography package takes the same amount of work on a weekday or weekend regardless!

WHERE

Wedding venues in prime locations like London and the Cotswolds are going to be more expensive than smaller, less well-known areas due to sheer demand. If your home town is cute and pretty and has a couple of suitable venue options, they’re well worth checking out before venturing further afield, but bear in mind if there’s not a big wedding market nearby you may have to hunt a bit harder (and pay a bit extra) to find suppliers willing to travel.

The same applies to trendy venues, currently industrial spaces and alternative venues are proving a hit with couples – and the demand means these venues are charging more! But that doesn’t necessarily rule them out – perhaps they are more affordable in other areas like catering and décor? It’s worth a look…

VENUE VISITS

Once you’ve decided when and where, now’s the time to get to grips with what’s actually out there! Start online – our favourite resource is Coco Wedding Venues, which lets you search by location, style and type. As well as getting the low-down on all the important details and pretty pics in the galleries, you can get in touch with the venue directly to request brochures and pricing – which you should definitely do before even thinking about a viewing!

If you’ve done your research well, no doubt you’ll fall head over heels for at least one venue you visit, so make sure you take the opportunity to find out as much as you can about the costs! It’s not just the package or per head rate you need to know, but what about food, drink, corkage, are external suppliers allowed (more on this later!).

Emma Riddell, Wedding Planner at Goose & Berry suggests creating a spreadsheet so you can compare information and ask detailed questions on your visits!

MARQUEES ARE NOT ALWAYS CHEAPER

Let’s just get this out in the open, marquee weddings are not a cheap alternative to a venue. Sorry ladies! By the time you’ve factored in hire, venue fee (if not on private land), parking, porta-loos, catering tents, dance floors and security fees, you’d be surprised how quickly it can all add up!  It’s also worth bearing in mind marquees, being blank canvases, are huge and take lots of décor to make pretty!  It pays to think outside the box; just a couple of hundred pounds on lanterns or pompoms can go a long way to filling up a big space, and look amazing too!

Like any other venue, it pays to get multiple quotes and ask all the questions you can before committing.

CUT THE GUEST LIST

The maths here is simple – the bigger the guest list the bigger the cost! If your heart is set on a formal wedding breakfast with table service but your budget can’t stretch, then consider cutting your guest list to a more manageable size. Some of my favourite weddings are intimate celebrations with close family and friends – anything from 2 to 20 guests! If cost per head is the issue, opt for something different but equally memorable like family-style dining with platters of cold meats and cheese, or a traditional roast. Or for the ultimate how about my personal favourite – a brunch wedding complete with pancake station, muffins and maple syrup – yum!

A word of warning – some venues may apply a minimum number, so be sure to double check this if you are planning a smaller celebration!

HOW MUCH DÉCOR DO YOU ACTUALLY NEED

As a B.LOVED bride we know you’re all about the details – and of course this has an impact on your budget too! When considering your venue, you’ll need to think extra hard about how your venue and your w-day style marry (sorry!)

Grand, ornate venues tend to dictate a lot when it comes to style – you need to go with it to make it work.  It’s tempting to go all out, but actually, trying to cover up the bits you hate will just cost money and often attract attention which kind of defeats the object! Most often, you don’t need to go all out – a few well-placed oversized floral arrangements will go a long way! So even though the venue might be costing a tad more than you wanted, you can expect to save on other aspects such as décor.

On the flip side, minimal venues with little detail need lots of décor to really make them sing! This style of venue can be appealing in price, but are often ‘dry-hire’ meaning every single item from chairs and tables, to knives and forks, to flowers and décor need to be brought in by you and your team of suppliers – which although beautiful can quickly bump up the costs!

It’s also worth finding out early on if you’re able to access your venue the day before to set up (bear in mind there may well be another wedding!) and if so, if there is a charge for this. If at all possible, you’ll want to take this option, as wedding day setups are notorious for taking longer than you planned – especially if you’re intending to get your bridal party involved. If in doubt, ask us!

KNOW THE DIFFERENCE BETWEEN VENUE PLANNERS AND WEDDING PLANNERS

Many wedding venues offer the services of a venue planner or venue coordinator in their packages – which is great! But before you rush off thinking you’ve got the services of a dedicated wedding planner for free, just remember if it sounds too good to be true… Fact is most venue coordinators are sales focussed – working Mon-Fri on booking weddings and handing over to an Ops team a week before your big day to oversee and manage venues obligations (ie. food and beverages). Others are more wedding-focussed, but will only liaise with and manage your suppliers on the day. The best are the ones who are truly passionate about weddings, and love their couples, going above and beyond their job spec to make your day truly special, like Anna at Bride & Glory who works with couples at Fetcham Park. These are few and far between – but if you find one they’re worth their weight in gold!

If you’d like to employ a wedding planner or stylist anyway, it’s worth checking with the venue this is ok. Many love working with professionals as it helps the day run smoothly and make their venue look amazing, but there’s always one or two who may be a bit resistant!

CHECK FOR HIDDEN COSTS

Most venues are run by very lovely people who just want to help you have the best day possible! They have worked with lots of local suppliers and done their research to pick the best of the best, to ensure your day runs smoothly and everything looks beautiful. The very best venues recommend suppliers purely on their past experiences, and many venues are happy to let you pick your own suppliers, but others may insist you choose from their own supplier lists – or pay for the privilege.

What?

Yes, some venues charge suppliers to be on their preferred supplier list, a cost which will inevitably be passed on to you in the form of higher quotes! Others prevent you using suppliers not on their own lists – or charge each of your suppliers a hefty 10% commission, which most likely will be passed on to you. Ouch.

When it comes to other hidden costs, check the contract thoroughly; if you’re not too confident on this get your wedding planner or a law-savvy relative or friend to do it. Venues can charge for anything from corkage and cake cutting to extra hours for bar and security staff – so it’s worth knowing what you’re agreeing too before signing that contract!

AND FINALLY…

As with any contract, check, check and check again any points regarding timings, suppliers, cancellations and additional costs – it’s so important!

As ever, if you’ve got any questions we’re here to help! Just send an email to our Wedding Plannning Experts at [email protected] or find more budget-savvy tips from our friends at TSB!

Suppliers

Louise

After a decade-long career in corporate interior design, I took a giant leap of faith, left the security of an office job, and founded B.LOVED in 2011 as a platform for romantic and beautiful wedding inspiration. Thanks to a whole lot of creativity, hard work and passion, my gamble paid off and B.LOVED became one of the leading wedding blogs in the UK.

You’ll also find me working as an Editorial Stylist, where I design and curate beautiful photoshoots for wedding and lifestyle brands, as well as contributing as a founding member of bridal inspiration hub Aisle Society, and running wedding industry community the B.LOVED Hive from our super pretty base in London. Yep, I definitely have the best job in the world.

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