Sustainable Wedding Planning: #1 The Venue

Back in May 2019, Francis proposed to me on a clifftop in Wales. We both knew we didn’t really want to wait long to get married but these days most wedding venues book 2-3 years in advance. Firstly we had to decide where we wanted to get married. We ruled out anywhere abroad as we have family with young kids and an elderly Nan and wouldn’t want it to be a challenge for anyone to come. Our general search area became Cornwall / Devon / Dorset which are all a little bit more expensive to get married in but are our favourite counties in the UK and most of our immediate family all live in Dorset so it wouldn’t be too far for them. We started looking at beautiful wedding venues on clifftops and beaches which brought on a few mini panic attacks when I saw the package prices (one thing to note here is that I am the stingy one always trying to save money and Francis is much more into spending a bit more to get something nicer). We originally had a budget of £10,000 in mind for the whole wedding but we were finding venues that were double this and above for just the venue 😳 no food, no registrars, nothing else. So we had to think outside the box. We’d already decided that we didn’t want to get married in a church. I had been brought up Catholic but I now class myself more spiritual than religious and Francis has never been christened which I think means he can’t get married in a church even if he wanted to (even though he shares a name with the Pope 😅), so it had to be a non-religious venue.

Anyway, so we spent a long time searching. I tried looking at non-licensed ‘event’ venues (the kind you’d hire out for your Nan’s 80th Birthday) which were massively cheaper (some £100-300 for the day) but it does mean that we would have to have the ceremony in another licensed venue or a registry office. Some wedding venues discount their prices in the winter and on weekdays, one we found was £9000 for a Saturday in June and £1000 for a Monday in January. However, I’ve always dreamt of a summer wedding and we have a few guests who would struggle to take off a week day. I started to lose hope in finding our dream wedding venue, trying to come to terms with either paying less to have a more complicated day or paying a fortune and potentially getting into debt to be able to have a venue that we loved. Then I came across a very strange website for a family farm advertising wedding packages for 2015. It didn’t have any contact details but it did have a link to a more up to date website for catering. I sent an email asking if they still used their farm for weddings and we went to take a look. It turns out they still have 4-5 weddings a year at their home farm but mostly run a catering business from it. Not only was it bang on budget* for our venue, it also meant we had a built in catering company, 4 bedrooms included for 2 nights and we could pretty much take our pick for any weekend of the year (oh and its outdoor pagoda is licensed 😍). We booked the venue just under a year in advance for next June 2020 and I still have no idea how we managed to find that little gem in an ocean of endless google searches and paid advertising for expensive wedding venues. My favourite part is that we’re supporting local businesses and we have full flexibility to create a truly personal and unique wedding.

*We had a budget of £3000-£4000 for the venue. We were recommended a local marquee hire company so both the venue and the marquee came to £3400. 

Top tips for finding a budget wedding venue:

  • Search for your dream venues first. The only way you’re going to be able to fully commit to compromising is when you almost faint after finding out how much your dream venue costs. 
  • If you would like to get married in a church, local churches in smaller villages can be extremely reasonable in price.
  • Think outside the box. Try googling ‘event venues in (area)’ or asking hotels or restaurants to hire out their function room.
  • Compromise! Have the ceremony only in your dream venue then go somewhere else for the reception or do the official part in a registry office the day before and then make your own ceremony at a venue that isn’t licensed (you could save thousands by doing it this way plus you can be extra creative). 
  • ***BEFORE you book and pay a deposit for the venue, make sure you have a registrar! You can only book them through the local council and if it’s a busy day they might be fully booked. Dorset council only took a £50 deposit so we booked them first, then confirmed with the venue.

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