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TIPS FOR CHOOSING YOUR WEDDING VENUE

You will have probably heard this a lot already, but choosing the right venue for your wedding is the most important decision of your wedding (apart from saying 'I do' of course!). 

So, how do you go about making such a big decision? What are the obvious (and not so obvious) things you need to think about?  Here are some pointers to help you choose your perfect venue. 

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The Basics

First of all, consider the obvious stuff. This will help to whittle down your choices. What is your budget? How many guests do you want, both for the day and the evening? Are there access or distance issues to consider for members of your wedding party? Is there a particular date that you definitely want to get married on or a particular time of year? Do you have your heart set on a particular theme that requires a particular type of venue? Do you want to get married outside? Consider these things first to help you narrow your potential choices. 

Do your Research

Most venues have websites, photo galleries and wedding brochures. Use these resources to come up with a short list of potential venues. Then think about the aspects that are the most important to you and use these to make a comparison table. Some examples of column titles are: price; catering restrictions; capacity; outdoor ceremony option; accommodation; exclusive use. This will help you to compare the venues at a glance and work out which ones you want to visit. When looking at prices, be careful to consider what's included and any hidden costs. On the face of it a particular venue may seem like a cheaper option, but after all the extras are added it may well end up being more expensive than a pricey venue that comes with everything included. 

This is also a good point to consider what type of approach you want to take. There are venues that supply the full works, from catering and flowers to DJs and decor, there are venues that simply provide tables and chairs as a blank canvas, and there are venues that are 'dry hire/ or 'DIY wedding venues' meaning that you simply hire the space and then put together the rest yourself. This can be both a unique and cost effective option if you are on a budget as you are saving on the costs that go into maintaining a fully managed venue. 

Visit Venues

This is the most important bit of the process so make sure you make time to go and see the venues on your shortlist. This is the best way to really get a vibe for the place and see it properly in real life rather than just in photos. You can see the great bits (and also the not so great bits that won't be in the marketing photos) and really get a feel for the useable space and potential layout. It is really useful to see the ceremony and reception spaces without all the venue dressing used in website photos so you can see if it will work with your theme and plans. Speaking of spaces, make sure you get a good look at all the options for your ceremony and reception for both good weather and bad. The venue might have an amazing outdoor ceremony location but their bad weather indoor option may not be quite so appealing. Also, if the venue is small, they might have to double up the ceremony and reception space in the same room, performing a 'flip' or quick change from one to the other during the event. If this is the case, make sure you are completely happy with how this is done, how long it takes and where the guests can go during this time. The last thing you want is people carting a load of tables and chairs past you on your big day while they do the changeover; a rushed wedding breakfast set up with wonky centrepieces; or even an unhappy wedding party that has been forced to wait outside in the cold or rain while the flip takes place. 

Have a good look at where the photos will be taken in the venue. Every venue has a number of locations for the 'big money shots' and these are the ones that will be on your wall for years to come (- some people will book a venue simply because they want a particular picture on their wedding day) but it is also important to look at the venue as a whole as a backdrop to your photos. No one wants dusty cobwebs, patchy grass, or huge telegraph poles distracting from the focal point in your photos. In fact, the amount of attention to detail shown at the venue when you visit is a great indicator of whether the venue is really worth the hire fee and also how well your wedding will be managed on the day. 

Other things to consider on your visit are noise and access. Is there any background noise from an nearby motorway or railway that might disrupt your ceremony? What is parking like at the venue and is there an option for the venue to assist with transport for your guests e.g. hotel shuttlebus etc if parking is limited? What parts of the venue are you and your guests allowed to access on the day? It's all very well hiring a castle or stately home for the day but it's a bit pointless if no one is allowed to go inside anywhere but the marquee! Is the venue hire for exclusive use and, if so, what do they actually mean by that? Are there any venue-specific restrictions regarding noise or end times? 

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Vetting

Have a chat with venue management to get a feel for their experience in wedding coordination at the venue. Anyone can make a fancy website but it takes a huge amount of knowledge and experience to successfully coordinate a wedding and deal with the various issues that may arise on the day. It is a big thing to entrust the coordination of the most important day of your life to someone, so you need to feel absolutely comfortable that your wedding day is in safe hands. 

Lastly, take a good look at their contract, particularly cancellation and excess costs, and any other venue specific conditions. 

And Finally....

Last and by no means least the most important thing is to trust your gut instinct. Only you know which venue is the perfect one for you, and no amount of smart sales pitches or cut price offers can or should change that. Your venue will be the backdrop to your special day and you will have photos to look back on for the rest of your life. Choose carefully to make sure that you have no regrets and lots of amazing memories to treasure forever. 

 

 

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Wedding Show inspiration for 2017....welcome to our blog!

So here I am finally writing the first blog for the Invicta Weddings site. Stevie and I will be regularly blogging about things that we love, Kentish wedding inspiration and will also provide lots of tips and tools to help you in planning your wedding. 

I have just come back from the Kent Wedding Show at Detling Showground and am very inspired so it seems a suitable place to start. I started Invicta Weddings last year then decided to take some extended leave to hang out with my toddler. Then I was tied up with some venue consultancy which has only just finished (more about that another time!) so the wedding show seemed like a good place to re-set and get some new inspiration for 2017. And it was. It was so busy this year and there were so many interesting people to talk to. What a great day. I could go on forever about all the amazing different suppliers there today but I wanted to focus on new trends and what has inspired us at Invicta Weddings for the coming year. 

Vintage and country chic have been a mainstay theme for a while now and it is great to see that the rustic feel is still there (I love that trend!) but it is becoming more earthy and fresh. I was inspired today by the use of the elements. It's real back to nature stuff and for a former city girl who now drags her wellies on every week to take her forest-loving toddler rambling in the countryside it gets my vote! 

Styling inspiration of the day definitely went to The Creative Venue (www.thecreativevenue.co.uk) They had a stunning earthy table dressing using bold forest greens, burlap and lots of wood and greenery. Excuse the fuzzy phone picture! It was funny because I started chatting to the stylist about it and she told me that someone had suggested that it was possibly too green. TOO GREEN?? Nooooo!! It was just perfect. So earthy. 

The Creative Venue

After that I was soon transfixed by the handmade gold and silver jewellery by Muriel and Lily (www.murielandlily.co.uk) . Mary, a fairtrade goldsmith, actually makes it all at home in her studio at the bottom of her garden. Her pieces were stunning and each one was unique and had real soul to it.  I loved that Mary not only makes beautiful jewellery (in her garden!!) but it is local and ethical too. Besides the amazing rings, Mary also makes stunning necklaces and other jewellery using delicate plant designs - cow parsley, wild rose leaf, lily pad to name but a few. Her peas in a pod collection is amazing and is definitely going on my Christmas list! I think Mary's organic pieces would make beautiful thank you gifts for the wedding party. 

I had a brilliant chat with Karina from Simply Ceremonies UK (www.celebrant-uk.co.uk) about Druid ceremonies, handfastings and handtying rituals (did you know there was a difference?? I do now!). It's simply fascinating and is becoming so much more popular now in woodland settings. Karina showed me her selection of hand tying ribbons for handfasting ceremonies. Beautiful.

Before I continue I couldn't write about the wedding show and not mention the showstopping blossom tree from Big Day Prop Hire (www.bigdayprophire.co.uk) that was on display there. It. Was. Huge. 

Continuing the ethical trend I was fascinated by the beautiful favours on display at the Empathy Action stand (www.empathyaction.org). Handcrafted in terracotta, soapstone, wire and beads they were not only a perfect addition to a rustic earthy wedding but were fairtrade and ethical too. So many different designs, each with their own story about the producers. The charity raises awareness of global deprivation and is all about increasing empathy. Isn't that what love is all about? 

Lastly, no earthy elements wedding would be complete without a good old tent! I love a bell tent and often wistfully imagine having one to take on family camping trips (although to be honest, 'go camping' is actually on my bucket list so I think that tells you all you need to know!). There is nothing like a huddle of individual canvas bell tents for some wedding party glamping after the party and the tents from Honeybells tent hire(www.honeybells.co.uk) were both beautiful and affordable. For the party itself, I loved the enormous brown tipi tent outside the Wedding Show from MyTipiEvent (www.mytipievent.co.uk) and not just because they let you roast big marshmallows on the fire inside it -heaven! The tent was a refreshing change from the usual white marquee and had a really homely feel to it. Plus, it was stunning inside with the exposed centre poles and guy ropes and most importantly provided complete shelter from the cold wind today! The tipi had a great country look to it and I love that if you needed more space you can add more tents to it, creating your own (not so) mini tent village! 

There was a lot of bright opulent glamour on display today and I loved the quiet contrast of the earthy trend at the show. I hope it really takes hold in the coming year. 

After the show we stopped by Kent Life and then did some obligatory pumpkin picking ready for our first ever carving attempt! I now need to go and Google what to do with all that left over pumpkin...Happy Halloween everyone!

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