Your guide to choosing a wedding venue

Here at St Giles House we see lots of excited brides and grooms visit our home and grounds and there is always a huge list of questions waiting for us so we thought we’d blog our thoughts on choosing a venue and how to efficiently plan for what will probably be the biggest cost of the whole event…


Today it’s all about the budget and what affects it most:

  • Make a spreadsheet.
  • Decide who’s paying for the wedding – are you going alone or are family contributing…?
  • Set a (rough) date – but remember to be flexible when you start the search!
  • Work out how much you can save taking the above points into consideration.
  • Allocate your budget – what’s important on your big day and what’s nice to have…?
  • Get quotes.
  • Give yourself a contingency fund – 10% is a good starting point
  • Double check everything from the budget, to what you need to buy, to the suppliers you’ll need on board!

To ensure your venue is coming within the budget you’ve allocated, here are some handy tips on what to consider and what you should be asking your wedding venue…

 Wedding Venue, St. Giles House


Peak Season in the wedding world can differ from venue to venue, but as a rule of thumb you’re probably looking at any dates from April through to late September. Typically these months will command a higher charge versus the autumn/winter options. Wedding Venues can be booked up a year in advance and many will now be looking at 2019 bookings, so when searching for your venue please do keep this in mind as a certain level of flexibility may be required if you have your heart set on getting married this Summer! Also, do enquire about weekday weddings. If you’re happy to host your party mid-week, then you could save a considerable amount and get that summer wedding date you’re after.


Additional costs

To help with your initial decision making, have a rough idea of how many guests you are considering inviting to your wedding; firstly, to gauge whether the venue is big (or small) enough to accommodate your party and indeed to start to get a rough cost per head. When requesting venue hire information, also ask about their catering options and whether they have a preferred/recommended list you can choose from. You can then do some research into these caterers to see who fits into your budget and style of wedding prior to booking the venue.

We all want our reception to be a hit with our guests and for some this will equate to fuelling your loved ones with enough wine, beer and bubbles! However, this is another area to consider when booking your venue so do ask for a bar list or prices alongside these specifics;

  • Do they charge a corkage fee or are they a no corkage venue…?
  • If they do charge a corkage fee, how much per bottle of wine and how much per bottle of Prosecco or Champagne…?
  • If some alcohol is included, how much per head is offered…? (Note: this may be one for the caterers!)
  • What are the options for your evening reception and bar…?
  • Is there a bar in-house or will you need to provide this service yourselves…?
  • If in-house, are they happy for you to have another Mixologist/Supplier onsite…?
  • Is there a minimum spend or do they offer a Cash Bar option…?

With regards to the latter, don’t be worried about having a Cash Bar in the evening, your guests won’t reel in horror and consider you poor hosts for making them buy their own G&T! But, if it does make you feel slightly uncomfortable and you still need to keep a tight grip of costs, then you can agree a set limit or specific drinks which you’re happy to pay for. As well as wine, spirits and soft drinks, do consider creating batch signature cocktails for your reception too! This can spice things up a bit whilst still managing how much alcohol you’re bulk buying for the reception. Your venue’s in-house bar or caterers can offer advice on amounts per person required, so add this to the cost per head on your spreadsheet! Did you know? St Giles House has it’s own Speakeasy style bar/nightclub on-site which is brand new to our 2018 offering! Contact us for information.


Styling your venue

Always book a venue that you love and work with the décor, rather than against it to disguise any areas that niggle. Ask your venues what’s included when you visit. But ensure what you are seeing on your reccce is what will be there on the day. If you do want to style, then ask your venue what’s is and isn’t allowed, ask to see images from previous weddings so you can see what other couples did with the spaces! When you enquire with a venue or visit in person, ask if they have a supplier list. Our recommended list is full of incredible suppliers that have previously worked at St Giles House. For some, a suppliers list is helpful if the world of weddings is very new. For busy Brides looking to tick those planning boxes, the suppliers list may also be the perfect timing-saving solution.

So bringing this topic back to the budget, a cost to watch out for here is if a venue has a Preferred Supplier list but does allow couples to bring in their own suppliers for a fee. Just make sure you’re asking the questions and fully understand the ins and outs. Also, if you’re intrigued about a Preferred Suppliers list (the one where you must choose) do ask the venue questions about how they curated their list. A fabulous venue will be all too happy to tell you the whys and whats and will exude passion about their preferred suppliers! As a Bride-to-be I would want to know that I’m receiving the very best recommendations from my venue and not just being presented with a commission based list.



We’re thrilled to have our newly refurbished Riding Stables on offer later in 2018 as luxury accommodations for our discerning guests. When considering a venue it’s always best to have an idea of logistics for your guests coming from afar. It’s also good to know if they have a Bridal Suite like ours for your first night and if any of this is included within the venue hire price.

Some other costs to consider when booking your venue…

  • Exclusivity – is there a premium for taking the venue exclusively?
  • Late License – a late license can be requested at certain venues, however this may come at an additional cost so check out what this entails if you fancy partying into the night!
  • Insurance – always take out wedding insurance. A cost that you hope will never come into play, but if it does then you’ll be so pleased you thought of this little expense.
  • Pets at Weddings – is there a room charge for having your fluffy ones stay in the venue’s accommodation?
  • Service – are staff included in the venue hire fee. If not, is this covered by the caterers or will this be an additional cost.
  • Marquee & Tipi costs – when hiring these type of venues do ask what’s included – consider toilets, generators, catering equipment, heating, tables, chairs, flooring, lighting and staff.
  • Not required thank you! Make sure you are only paying for the items you want or need. For example; if chair covers aren’t your thing then do you need to be paying for them or are they an option…?


Gut Instinct

Choosing a wedding venue is a very subjective process and it will be different for each couple. What one couple will love, another might, ummmm, not love. Therefore, if you’ve viewed a venue it’s really important to go with your gut. If you’ve fallen in love with the location but there’s something that doesn’t feel quite right, then delve a little further into what the issue might be, but don’t be frightened of walking away if it starts to feel too difficult. It’s an important journey you take with your wedding venue and such a key relationship to a smooth planning process. Fall in love with the team as much as the venue.


Wedding Venue DecorChurch Wedding, Dorset

Images by Taylor & Porter



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