wedding preparation

Guide To Planning And Budgeting A Wedding

2023 has seen both my daughter and my eldest son get married – both had a different “theme” and venue. My daughter organises weddings as part of her job at a local hotel too. There is such a variety of venues and themes to choose from, and various costs involved that planning a wedding can become a logistical nightmare. This week’s post is by my guest blogger, Dan from The Financial Wilderness, a UK Personal Finance Blog, who has just recently got married himself….. Welcome Dan….

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Hello everyone! Today’s post has a fairly clear inspiration – a few months ago we got engaged, and we’ve been spending the last couple of months researching, creating a budget and visiting various wedding venues. We’re so happy with the wedding venue we ended up as our choice, and I thought I’d share with you our thinking and process on how to choose and budget for your wedding venue.

When you start looking at the wedding it can feel quite initially daunting – there’s so many options out there and we walked away feeling a little overwhelmed at first – so we’ll also be going into tips to help manage that side as well.

What type of wedding venue would you like?

Our first bit of advice is to try if you can to work out what type of wedding you want in big picture terms – some suggested questions would be:

• Would you like to have your wedding in a town or in the country?

• Roughly where would you like to get married geographically?

• Do you see yourself getting married in a barn, country house, registry office, park, abroad etc.?

• Is there any x-factor that’s particularly important to you (for example, would you want a church nearby?)

• Do you want to get married at a particular time of the year, and would you want it to be at the weekend?

The reasoning for doing this is that once you’ve established a type of wedding it helps keep things within a certain budgetary range and (and helpfully starts to cut down the list of places to consider).

In our case for instance we were looking for a barn wedding in Sussex – once we’d got that, we found from our further research that the venue costs were going to be in a 2k-3k span no matter where we chose – so we could think much more about the venue itself.

You may of course have absolutely no idea – in this case we’d suggest picking out just one or two of each type you might consider, and visiting those venues in a very broad sense, simply thinking about if this is somewhere you’d like to get married.

In terms of finding the venues themselves, we found the websites Hitched (which has some great planning tools) and Bridebook particularly helpful.

Challenge if the type of wedding venue fits your overall budget

Weddings are generally expensive affairs, and it’s pretty easy to get yourself on a path of going into cost overboard through not realising how much everything might cost at an early stage.

So once you’re at that stage of having decided the type of wedding, I’d recommend doing a quick check on your venue preferences against overall budgetary expectations to just do a check on feasibility before starting to fall in love with particular venues.

Firstly, I’d suggest taking at least three venues you’ve found of the right type and “look good on paper” and averaging their hire into a venue price.

It’s worth now setting up a planner to come up with some rough figures on what everything might cost.

This will take a little time to research but will set you up well for the future, as you’re building a framework you and use to track and manage the actual wedding costs.

In terms of using estimated number for now, web research and friends experiences can with this. In some cases like caterers it may be worth asking for some rough details to get your started. And with any budget I’d suggest starting by assuming the higher end of spending!

Top Tip: One thing you need to be extra careful about when speaking to vendors is what’s included or excluded – for instance, we found that many places quoted us figures excluding VAT, but in practice we’d be paying that.

Some suggested items to go on this include:

• Venue Hire

• Church if needed

• Catering

• Flowers

• Wedding Rings

• DJ/Band/Entertainment

• Dress/Suit

• Photographer

• Stationary

• Accommodation

• Wedding Cars

• Other decorations

• Cake

Having this framework in a broad sense means you can assess the feasibility of the type of venue that you’ve chosen and answer the key question:

When I put everything together, is this an amount I’m happy to pay for this type of venue?

And if not….

What would I be happy to change and make compromises on?

Shortlisting your potential wedding venues

Now that we’ve got a type of wedding and our rough budget, we created a “longlist” of venues which based on their details on line had the characteristics we’d want to see.

We made top level notes on each, making notes on:

• What the final hire price was

• What we particularly liked or had concerns about.

• Specific x-factors which we wanted to compare on. (For instance if the venue had a corkage or dry hire policy and their catering flexibility was important to us).

In our case, this left us with about 50 venues. We used a combination of the notes we’d made and a revisit to the website to whittle these down to a shortlist of 6. We then went to visit these to see how the reality matched up to expectations – this way we got to 2, then 1 .

(Whilst we didn’t end up picking one of these, if a longlist venue was fairly close to a shortlist venue we made a point to drop in – sometimes places can surprise you!)

Questions to ask your wedding venue

We found all the wedding venue staff really helpful and friendly, but remember that they are ultimately there to sell you the venue! It’s therefore really important to ask the questions they’re not naturally going to tell you.

Here’s some things we asked about that might be a bit less obvious than standard questions but we found helpful – if you have any other good ones, please do let us know in the comments below!

(We asked every venue these and some more standard ones and tracked them on our phones).

• How many caterers do you partner with? Am I tied in to one of these?

• Aside from the caterers, do you require me to use any other specific service?

• Do you have any sound or time restrictions on bands and DJ’s?

• Do we need permission for a band?

• When can we start the wedding set-up from?

• What is included/excluded with the hire price (tables, chairs?)

• Can guests pick up their cars the next day?

• Do you have any specific restrictions? (We found many places banned stilettos owing to the risk of damage to the dancefloor!)

• What is your policy on candles/fire pits/fireworks?

• Do you have links with a local church?

• What is your deposit policy?

When you’re at the point where you’re pretty serious about a venue, we’d also suggest asking for a copy of their contract to review before you make your final decision, as this can sometimes throw up a few unexpected surprises!

And finally good luck – choosing your wedding venue is an incredibly exciting part of the process, so be sure to enjoy it along with the practical stuff!

If you’ve enjoyed this article, please do check out The Financial Wilderness for some great UK Personal Finance content!

Thank you Dan!


All photographs are by Linda Hobden

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