Tips On Finding Your Ideal Wedding Venue:
Finding a venue for your wedding can be an overwhelming process. To help you, we have compiled a few of our top tips for things to consider when visiting a potential wedding venue, and the right questions to ask so you know the space will work for you.
A really important thing to think about regarding your venue is the location and what you would like to be surrounded by on your wedding day – mountains, vineyards, sandy beaches, a forest or something else that speaks of who you and your partner are and what you enjoy. In Cape Town we are blessed with such an abundance of venues that it can be difficult to know where to start, but the following will help you to eliminate the ‘wrong’ venues and shortlist the ‘right’ ones, for you.
Number of Guests:
The number of people on your guest list is the first place to start as this will determine first-off whether a space will be suitable. It is not worth visiting a whole lot of venues only to find out once there, and you have your heart set on the place, that they are not able to accommodate your guests. Most wedding venues tell you on their website what their capacity is and may even have a few different options for larger or more intimate celebrations. It is a good idea to find out this information before heading out on the road.
Inside & Outside Spaces at the Venue:
Think about things like whether you want your ceremony to be indoors or outdoors and whether the venues you are looking at can accommodate your ceremony, or whether you’ll have to have it at a chapel elsewhere and then travel to the reception.
If the former is the case, consider where will you want the ceremony to take place at the venue, which direction it will face if there is a view to behold and whether you want to face the breath-taking vistas as you say your vows or whether you ‘d like you guests to enjoy the scenery as they look on. If your first option is an outdoor ceremony, always run through the contingency plan if the weather doesn’t play ball.
If the latter is the case, consider travel times from the chapel to the reception venue and accommodation and transport for the guests should they be staying at the venue or nearby and have opted not to drive themselves. If they are driving themselves ask where your guests will be able to park and ensure that it will not interrupt the beautiful views or be in the background of your photos. Find out if Uber or Good Fellas operate in the area and notify your guests of this so they can be sure of a safe ride home after the party.
Indoors, Outdoors, Tables and Seating:
When considering where to host the reception remember to ask if they have an outdoor option if you have your heart set on an outdoorsy wedding and if they provide a marquee, as some places do, or whether you have to hire one as this can all add to the costs and may change your mind about it. Consider the layout of the tables, find out if they are provided by the venue, whether they are round or rectangular, banquet size, how many they will seat and whether your main table will be a stand-alone front facing table or whether it will sit among the other tables so that you are surrounded by your friends and family.
If there is a view from the reception venue will you want the main table to face it and if so how will that affect the layout of the other tables.
Consider where you want the dance floor to be situated and where your DJ or band will be setup.
- If you’re having a band, try to place them close to the dance floor so you can maximise the sound and the vibe. Sticking them in a corner might seem practical so they’re not in the way or an ‘eye-sore’ with all their cables and drums but you’ll lose out on the mood when the music starts.
- Some people like to have their dance floor in the middle of the tables for easy access from everywhere in the venue and so that the party is in the centre of the room. This can however often spread the tables quite far from each other and the main table often ends up being a front facing table separated from the rest and looking over the dance area rather than the smiley faces of friends.
- Some like their dance floor off to the one side with a satellite bar for easy access to drinks when the dancing starts.
Whatever your preference, this detail is very important and can make or break the ambience and mood at your wedding so consider it carefully.
This is often the time between the ceremony and the reception, where the bride and groom are off having their photos taken and the guests are left to fend for themselves, sometimes for a rather long time. Canapés and drinks are often served during this time and keep your guests happy while you’re off posing in the sunset.
Just an aside and not related to venue choices specifically, but something to think about, is limiting the amount of time you have for taking photos during this time so you aren’t away for too long – a good photographer will be able to capture your precious moments throughout the day and that pre-reception photo shoot doesn’t need to go on forever. Your photographer may also want to take these at a particular time of the day depending on when the sun will set – later if you are getting married in summer – so you may need to arrange the timing of the ceremony and the snacks and drinks to accommodate this.
Some things to consider regarding pre-drinks would be: Where you will want this to take place? Will the canapés be served on platters and brought around to your guests or will they be able to help themselves at a food station? Will you make use of a service bar – where the staff take orders and bring the drinks to your guests, or will have a drinks station setup where guests can place their orders themselves? Seating during this time is also really important as you want to make sure your guests are comfortable as well as fed and hydrated while they wait to welcome the happy couple. Some venues provide seating for free, some provide seating but you are required to hire it and some have none and you will have to hire in couches and cocktail tables and bar stools. This can really add to the costs – so make sure you ask all these questions when visiting the different venues you are interested in. You definitely don’t want guests’ hobbling around in stilettos with sore feet before the reception’s started because they’ve had to stand around waiting for you for so long already.
Consider whether you will be having a buffet or plated meal. If it’s a buffet ask where the food will be laid out and if it is plated consider easy accessibility to the kitchen for service staff to ensure your tables are served simultaneously as this will ensure you all eat together and make for a smoother running of events all round. Make sure you enjoy the food at the venue of your choice and request a tasting beforehand to ensure it’s up to your standards. If you don’t like it your guests won’t and that will make for hungry, unhappy wedding goers and will dampen the spirit of the celebration. Your food doesn’t have to cost the earth or be overly extravagant, but the quality is important.
Ask the venue about lighting inside and outside. What is included in the venue hire fee and what is over and above it? Ask them to point out the lighting to you so you know whether you will have to have additional lighting to create the ambiance you would like as this will really set the mood for the whole evening. If you’re having a summer celebration bear in mind you may want to have lighting outside so guests can enjoy the warm weather.
We hope this helps you with your venue hunting! All the best!