EXPERT ADVICE

FAQs and expert advice about venues

Here is a selection of Q&As from Your Herts and Beds Wedding magazine whether it be about flowers, hair and makeup, fashion, wedding themes, health & beauty, cakes, stationery, legal advice. If you would like your question answered by our experts, please email it to editor@yourhertsbeds.wedding

Summer Vibes

Summer Vibes

Q What advice can you share for our summer wedding?
A Kerry Mavris says: If you've booked your wedding far enough in advance, it's a great idea to visit your wedding venue a year before the big day to see what flowers and colours are prominent on the grounds. That way, you can match your floral décor, headpieces and bridesmaids' dresses.

Check that your venue has air conditioning in case your wedding day is baked in lovely summer sunshine, but also have a plan B in case the weather takes a rainy turn.

Consider a barbecue for the wedding breakfast, which makes a delicious alternative to a formal dinner. Offer guests some summer cocktails to add something extra special to your day. Why not also arrange for an ice cream cart to be on hand in the gardens so that guests can enjoy a nice, sweet treat in the late afternoon sunshine while the team are turning your ceremony space around for the evening party?

To avoid your guests getting blisters while they dance the night away, consider providing a basketful of flip-flops to change into when the heels get too much!

Here at Ware Priory, our events team will be on hand to ensure guests have plenty of water to keep hydrated, and our grounds provide plenty of shade for your guests. Our riverside grounds have been lovingly cared for, so they look stunning whatever the weather. You could choose outdoor entertainment or garden games to make the most of the warm evenings.

Kerry Mavris, Ware Priory

Al fresco nuptials

Al fresco nuptials

Q We're planning an outdoor wedding but are worried about bad weather. What advice can you share?
A Hannah Whiteley says: It's genuinely true every time I've told a couple how we have a great success rate with good weather at weddings! Across six wedding seasons, we've only had two quite rainy weddings. But those two days were incredible, and our couples had the most fantastic time. Don't worry about the weather; just prepare for it. Ensure you've got a big enough structure for mingling as well as dining with an extra structure or shelter like a stretch tent in addition to the main marquee to ensure any outdoor aspects of the day, like the ceremony, can continue rain or shine. Have umbrellas on standby and consider a marquee heater. Ensure deliveries and suppliers don't drive across the key areas of the site, as it can quickly create muddy tracks. Use matting to create walkways along the main routes across the site for guests to walk on.

Hannah Whiteley, Fields & Festoons Outdoor Weddings

Finding your dream venue

Finding your dream venue

Q What advice can you share regarding finding our dream wedding venue?
A Kerry Mavris says: Start with the area where you're looking to hold your wedding celebrations and the type of venue you're after. Consider if you're after a stately home, barn, countryside setting, contemporary space or somewhere in a city centre.

Make a rough guest list to see how many guests you'll likely have in attendance to help narrow your search. Some venues might not be large enough to host all your loved ones if you're having a grand wedding. If you're after an intimate wedding with fewer guests, check if the properties you consider have a minimum number.

Next, you can calculate what fits within your budget. Contact the properties to obtain their price list for venue hire, catering, drinks and any extra touches. Check what's included in the packages and what else you'll need to consider, such as entertainment and venue styling.

If you have a particular date that you are set on, check to see if the venues have that day free. Ask to place a holding deposit while you decide between your shortlisted venues to take any extra pressure away.

Do your homework on each venue's website. Look at some of the previous wedding photos to give you an idea of some of the memories you can make on your special day. Are there any particular features the venue has that must be included in your photographer's portfolio?

You can provide your guests with a traditional wedding breakfast or a barbecue if that's more your thing. Some venues will also offer a dry hire option whereby you can bring in your own caterers if you'd prefer.

Only book a venue after visiting the property. Most will hold spring and autumn wedding fayres, so you can visit the spaces and meet other suppliers simultaneously. You can also book a private viewing to discuss what you're after in more detail. See if the venue has testimonials on their website and if any previous guests have left a review – recommendations are invaluable.

Kerry Mavris, Ware Priory

Breathtaking backdrops

Breathtaking backdrops

Q Why should I book a private showroom and not hold off for a venue's wedding open day?
A Nazlee Sabahipour says: Open days are exciting, but the venue will be full of suppliers and other interested couples. The busy atmosphere means you won't get an accurate sense of how the venue will look and feel on your wedding day. With so many stalls and people on-site, it's easy to miss some areas and features you would have loved. We will always have our key team members at any wedding open day, but they'll rarely be able to spend more than a few minutes with each person with so many couples there.

A private show round appointment allows you to meet the team you'll be working with, which is an important step when creating your dream wedding. It's essential to ensure that the team truly grasp your vision and can accommodate it. They'll be able to share past experiences while helping you understand where everything will go and how it will feel on the day. As the venue is such a central part of your wedding, it's essential that you feel confident and pleased with the team supporting you on-site.

The staff can discuss how your specific wedding will look with the exact number of guests for your type of ceremony and discuss in detail any catering requirements.

Most couples don't have plenty of experience planning weddings, so it's only natural that questions will arise. Unfortunately, bustling wedding open days are not the best environment for this! Your private show round appointment will allow you to work through your questions individually. Walking around the venue and talking through your day may spark some new ones you hadn't thought of before.

Nazlee Sabahipour, Offley Place

Dreamy backdrops

Dreamy backdrops

Q We're just starting our big-day journey, and neither of us know what we should look for when booking a venue. What should we keep in mind when looking at different properties?
A Kerry Mavris says: Choosing your wedding venue should be near the top of your priority list as once it's booked, everything else will be easier to plan.

It would be best to consider whether you're looking to hold your whole day in one place or intend to have your ceremony and reception at separate venues. Think about how many people you intend to invite and what sort of theme you have in mind for the day.

Next, decide if you want a location near your hometown, where you live now or where most of your guests will be travelling from. Also, think about how flexible you need the venue to be in terms of catering and entertainment.

Lastly, get an idea of the budget you'll be working with so that you don't book a venue out of your price range.

With these considerations, it's then a lot easier to list the most suitable venues that fit your requirements. Contact each property to obtain their brochures and arrange a viewing appointment. Don't be afraid to ask questions about anything that isn't clear or if you have an unusual request as no two weddings are the same.

Kerry Mavris, Ware Priory

Create the perfect day

Create the perfect day

Q We're just starting our big-day journey, and neither of us know what we should look for when booking a venue. What should we keep in mind when looking at different properties?
A Sarah Turnham says: Planning a wedding can seem quite daunting when you first start, so don't feel like you're the only ones feeling unsure.

When it comes to finding a venue, consider the more practical elements. Knowing your guest list and the style of venue you're after will help narrow down your options. For example, you might want a classic, modern, quirky or relaxed-styled property.

Once you have shortlisted a few venues, consider the different packages on offer and check if they include everything you want or if you would be paying for more than you need. Don't be afraid to ask the teams many questions as they're there to help make the day perfect.

Fixed packages can get tricky, and that's why we offer fully bespoke options at Woburn Safari Park to allow you to personalise the day to suit any individual needs.

Sarah Turnham, Woburn Safari Park

The great outdoors

The great outdoors

Q My fiancé and I have just started looking for our dream wedding venue, and we'd like to get married outside. What should we keep in mind before booking a property?
A Claire Hill says: Take in the full surroundings of the area for your day and imagine how you'd like your wedding photos to be. A wedding is so much more than just a marquee or tipi, and you'll want people to remember the day for years to come.

Think about how the venue will fit your theme and how you can put your own stamp on the spaces – you don't need to spend a fortune to achieve a dream day. Take into consideration things that have stood out at other weddings or features that have put you off specific venues. Here are a few things to keep in mind...

- Will there be ample car parking that's free of charge?

- Do you have to use certain suppliers?

- Does the venue have a blank canvas to achieve everything you have in mind?

Claire Hill, Hill Brothers Events

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