1 THE RECCE ‘It’s all about having a checklist,’ says Marie Haverly of isabellaweddings.co.uk. ‘Separate it into must-haves, such as a beautiful setting, and nice-to-haves, such as outdoor space. Try to visit the venue at diferent times of the day before committing – and visit in the month you’re getting married to see what the gardens will look like. ‘Also ask if it’s all yours or are members of the public around? What does the venue look like at night? Consider parking, neighbours and access, but also the feeling you get from the co-ordinator and staf – are they enthusiastic, helpful and enjoy their jobs? Take photos, too, so you can remember how it looks and plan how best to use the space.’

2 THE QUESTIONS ‘Email questions to the co-ordinator before the visit – to discuss when you meet,’ suggests Marie. ‘Te key ones are:l What time can we set up and what time do we have to fnish?l Can we use our own suppliers? Do you charge extra if they are not on your “recommended list”?l Can we do BYO; is there a corkage charge? If not, can we see the drinks list?l Is there any available accommodation? Do we have to book all the rooms? If not, is there space for us to get ready?l How many weddings do you hold each year? (Too few and they might not have the experience; more than one per weekend and you may have restricted access.)l Is there any work due to take place on or round my wedding date?’


3 THE PRICE ‘Ask for a full breakdown of all costs and whether there are any ‘usual’ extras, such as service or a minimum number of bedrooms that have to be booked,’ says Marie. ‘Check whether the price includes VAT (it’s 20% extra if not). Always negotiate unless it ticks all the boxes or comes in under budget. ‘If you love it, but it’s too expensive, ask when their quiet periods are and if they ofer discounts for weekdays. Or see if you can use a diferent (cheaper) room by cutting your guest list? You can also save by reusing elements (marquee etc) from the weddings before and afer yours, so ask about this, too.’PACKAGE This will usually include not only the venue hire, but the food, drinks, cake, and sometimes even the flowers and DJ.

The advantage is you don’t have to source and co-ordinate all of these other suppliers yourself, so it can save time and be cost-effective. However, be sure you are happy with all the options – packages can sometimes be inflexible.DRY HIRE This means you are just hiring the venue and you’ll need to bring in other elements. It takes more time, but you can tailor the day to your tastes. Ask if they have a list of suppliers they work with – it’ll save time and they’ll know the space. Make sure your suppliers communicate with each other. HOME SWEET HOMEBrides lifestyle editor Lara Hall got marriedat her parents’ home in Gloucestershire in June 2013. Here are her top tips for marrying at home:Don’t forget about power Your household electrics won’t cover it, so generator is a must. Find out what level of power your suppliers will need.Plan for parking Make sure there is plenty of space a feld or school car park), so guests don’t block roads.Know your limits Get a marquee supplier to size up your space – you need room for loos and caterers.Keep on the right side of neighbours Send them a note apologising in advance for the disturbance.

Stay local Te further your fowers, food and cake travel, the more you get stung on delivery charges.Give yourself space In the run-up to the wedding, your home will be invaded by suppliers. Book a spa day or lunch with a friend to get out of the house and relax.1 LIGHTING Candlelight is not only flattering for your complexion, but for your venue, too. It will make even the drabbest space twinkly and romantic. If your venue doesn’t allow candles, try the battery-powered ones at batterycandles.co.uk. Or opt for pretty fairy lights or up-lighters.2D RAPING Vertiginous ceilings or just a plain, boring space? Create atmosphere or disguise bare walls with indoor draping to give a marquee effect. Try draped.co.uk.3F URNITURE HIRE Love the room, but hate the conference chairs?

If chair covers aren’t your thing, then hire. Try Perspex or go classic with Louis XVI-style chairs. Greathire.co.uk has a rainbow of colours.DRINKS RECEPTION about 2sq m per person for easy minglingROUND TABLES 1.5m round tables seat 10 people and need 3m by 3m each – for 100 guests, you would need 90sq m for dinner. 1.8m round tables seat 12 and need about 11.5sq m per tableTRESTLE TABLES 1.8m by 80cm trestle tables seat six (three on each side), and you’ll need 2.3m by 1.8m per tableDANCING each person needs a minimum of onesquare metre, but only about 50% of your guests will dance at anygiven time.

So for 100 guests, you’ll need 7m by 7m of dance floor spaceWe’ve found our dream reception venue, but it’s an our’s drive from the church. hoW far is too far?An hour is probably tops for the transfer between your ceremony and reception – you don’t want the day to lose momentum with a long drive. If you have a fair distance between the two sites, provide transport for your guests and make sure drivers have clear directions. Keep the celebratory mood going with drinks before the drive, or mini bottles of champagne for the journey, so guests aren’t parched and fed up when they fnally get to the reception.

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