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Choosing a wedding venue

Deciding where to tie the knot

A wedding has a lot of expectations to live up to, so finding the right venue is crucial to delivering your dream day. But where do a couple start? There are lots of things to think about when putting together a shortlist of wedding venues, which is why we’ve put together these key questions for you to consider...

Do you want the reception and ceremony in same place?

Venues need to hold special licences in order to host legally-binding ceremonies, so if you choose to hold the ceremony and reception at the same place this will dramatically reduce your options. An easy way to find a list of registered wedding ceremony venues is to search your local council’s website. Searching online in forums and on local wedding blogs can also be a good way of finding a shortlist of options.

The other option is holding your wedding ceremony at a church or register office, meaning you can hold your reception anywhere that’s big enough to fit all your guests!

How many people will be attending the reception?

The average wedding has around 100 people in attendance, but it’s important to draw up a list rather than leave it to guess-work. There tend to be three different tiers of any wedding guest list; those invited to the ceremony, the reception and the evening reception.

This is optional of course, but since you’ll be covering the cost per head for the wedding breakfast, inviting people to celebrate with you afterwards can be a good way to make your budget go further. Whoever you choose to invite for whatever part of the day you’ll obviously need to make sure the venue works.

Do you want to celebrate close to home?

Traditionally people tend to celebrate their marriages either close to where they live or to where they grew up. That way they have a base from which to arrange the day and even get ready on the morning of the wedding. It also tends to make it easier for guests to attend the wedding, most of whom will probably also live close to the venue.

Alternatively, lots of couples opt to get married abroad, where the weather is more reliable and the photographs are almost guaranteed to be in the sunshine. Obviously getting married abroad will change the whole day dramatically in terms of the number of attendees and potentially the time of year you choose to get married – so you’ll need to consider the wedding venue accordingly.

What time of year do you want to tie the knot?

The majority of weddings take place in spring and summer, to benefit from a higher chance of sunshine. However most venues, from hotels to marquees can be made suitable for winter weddings.

In terms of the venue for a winter wedding one of the main considerations will be photo opportunities that won’t freeze the guests half to death. Group photos in summer weddings tend to take place outdoors, so for a winter-friendly alternative you may choose to look for a venue with a dramatic staircase, fireplace or feature wall.

Conversely, anyone opting for an outdoor-based wedding in the height of summer will need to ensure the venue is prepared for all eventualities, including shelter from both scorching sunshine and pouring rain!

What's the theme of your wedding?

You probably have your own ideas for the theme of your wedding and will choose the venue accordingly. We’ve put together some of our favourites to provide you with a little inspiration:

Homespun charm: Look for pretty local churches and village halls that can be hired for relatively little money but adorned with flowers, bunting and decorations to reflect your theme.

Rural romance: Weatherworn barns can be made to look incredible with wreaths and fairy-lights. Lofty ceilings and wooden rafters will give the celebration a warm, historical feeling and ensure photos look stunning.

Stately glamour: If your budget will run to it many stately homes and castles tend to offer themselves as wedding venues. Obviously these come in all shapes, sizes and styles but most will add a fairytale atmosphere to your special day.

Contemporary chic: Brides and grooms may choose to shun all things vintage in favour of sleek hotels and contemporary venues. Modern-feeling weddings can now be held in all manner of locations from football clubs to permanently docked ships.

Eastern delights: Opulent Eastern-themed weddings now have the perfect venue in the form of Eastern Marquees. These tents come in a range of colours and incorporate elaborate detailing that would work well with low seating and sumptuous finger food.

Nordic enchantment: Katas are another unusual alternative to the traditional marquee. They look like large wigwams and can be fitted with log fires, wooden benches and pelts for a cosy winter wedding.

Endlessly versatile: The humble marquee serves as a blank canvas to work with, whatever your theme or colour scheme. Also, since they can be popped in any garden large enough it’s no wonder they’re so popular with couples tying the knot.

Did you know?

Whatever wedding venue you choose to get married in, John Lewis Wedding Insurance can help financially protect your special day. And whether you’re planning a large ceremony at home or an intimate wedding abroad, we offer variable Wedding Insurance so we can arrange the right amount of cover for your big day. We also offer optional Marquee Insurance.

For further tips and advice, please see our quick guide (PDF).

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John Lewis Insurance is a trading name of John Lewis plc. Registered office: 171 Victoria Street, London SW1E 5NN. Registered in England (No. 233462). John Lewis plc is an appointed representative of Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance plc. John Lewis Wedding Insurance is underwritten by Royal & Sun Alliance Insurance plc (No. 93792). Registered in England and Wales at St. Mark's Court, Chart Way, Horsham, West Sussex, RH12 1XL. Authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority (Financial Services Register No. 202323). Calls may be recorded and monitored.

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