Welcome to my latest edition of my ‘Wedding Planning’ blog posts.
Every month you can now expect to see a ‘wedding planning update’ right here on my blog where I will share hints and tips on my planning as I experience it myself, that will help some other #bridestobe.
So today I am kicking off with what I learnt in my ‘Search for a Venue’ and ‘Picking a Date’, see m Top Tips below.
I’m very excited that I have now set the date for my wedding, it is just 6 months from TODAY, on 8th Feb 2019! SCARY
P.S It’s Date
1. Start Early, Be Flexible With Your Rules
First off, I recommend the first thing you do pretty soon after your engagement is get moving on selecting your venue and picking your date, as you will be surprised how long venues are booked up in advance. Ok, so maybe take a month or two to enjoy the engagement celebrations and lap up the buzz of it all but when the dust settles I really recommend you start your research on venues.
Having a few rules/guidelines is good, but I found you have to be flexible to a degree. So when you start researching you may have already set a few simple rules in your head, I know I did. for example I had 3….
1. I always wanted to have my wedding in May time, I have no real specific reason other than two of my sisters got married in this month and the weather was generally nice 2. I didn’t want my wedding during Christmas, as I LOVE this time of year and didn’t want my wedding overshadow it. And the last one, 3. since I had been dating for so long I also didn’t want a long engagement, so ideally I wanted my wedding to be soonish but at the same time I wanted enough time to plan everything without rushing and adding unnecessary stress (for once in my life).
I found it was hard to tick all the boxes, so that’s where the flexibility comes in, but the earlier you start the search the more likely you will get what you really want. What I also discovered is, its better to focus first on finding your perfect venue and then select a date from there, which I explore more below.
2. Start with the Venue, Begin with Research, Have a Checklist
Start with a basic checklist for yourself and keep a record for each venue. There is no right and wrong venue, but every couple like different things to suit their particular day – room capacity, location, driving distance, room layout, room style, any planned renovations, meal options, number of guest rooms, bar serving times, after party options and so forth. I found this fantastic checklist over on One Fab Day, its the ultimate Wedding Venue Checklist and is really worth having as a starting point.
Then start your research on all the possible venues and be open to suggestions on other options to consider. I’m glad I was, as I ended up picking a venue someone had recommend to me which I never heard off before. Then research is key before you start visiting, so I recommend you get in touch with the venue wedding planners to find out everything about the venue, search on their website and and use your check list as a guide to see if it is suitable to visit or not. From here you will start to narrow it down, as there is no point visiting venues that will not cater for your numbers for example.
3. Fine Tune your List and Book Appointments
Once you have your list fine-tuned, then start to book some appointments. When you start your visits you will very quickly know what you like and don’t like and what suits and what doesn’t. We visited some amazing venues that I fell in love with, but then certain aspects didn’t hit all of the check list so very easily we started to rule ones out.
And don’t panic, you will know the ‘one’ for you, as you will instantly got a sense of a place and the right vibe and you will know what feels perfect for you and your guests.
4. Fine Tune Again
So after you have visited your venues you will know what works and what doesn’t and you will know what venue you are instantly drawn to.
You should very easily reduce your list and fine tune it to just a few final choices. Then I recommend to revisit again, maybe this time with a family member, and go and enjoy a meal or a drink, just to be sure. That way you get a proper feel of a place outside being there for a dedicated ‘wedding visit’
5. Picking ‘The One’
When you make your final selection you want to be 100% happy with everything about the venue from the room itself to the staff, the look and feel and everything in between. But as I say you will know.
My venue I decided on is called the Leighinmohr House Hotel in Ballymena, Co. Antrim. What is crazy is I had never actually heard off it before, until a work colleague told me about it as her brother got married in it. She couldn’t recommend it enough and it had amazing reviews, so off I went for a site visit and thankfully I did.
After visiting I instantly knew it was the venue for me. It’s a small boutique style hotel that specialises in weddings, less than an hour drive from where I live, the staff were more than friendly and helpful, which I know you expect (but I was surprised we did not get this same welcome everywhere we went), and it had a beautifully new furbished function room. The fact the function room was newly decorated also greatly helps as it leaves very little to do in terms of adding extra decorating and room styling which is a real plus.
To tick a few more boxes they told us of plans to carry out further refurbishments in the coming months that would all be complete in time for our wedding. The hotel is also very intimate and has 20 rooms, so when you book your wedding you are guaranteed all the rooms, so you effectively get the entire property to yourself for your wedding day which makes it all the more special.
6. Now For A Date
So now that you have selected your venue its now time to get a date. This is where some of my rules had to go out the window, well at least to a degree, so be a little prepared for that. Of course as part of your research you will ask about availability at your fine tune lists of venues , but you will find when you really love a venue you will work around the dates that they have available, which is exactly what I had to do.
Since my hotel is so popular with weddings, availability was not so plentiful, especially within the next two years and ideally I did not want to go beyond 2 years. So in the end I had to sacrifice a Saturday for a Friday and forget about having my wedding in May, otherwise I would have had to wait to middle of 2020. So we went with 8th February, which is a Friday and now as it turns out I’m having a Winter Wedding, which I never thought I would have, but I’m still not compromising Christmas. So overall it all worked out well.
A Significant Date
Just a little story on my date…after setting my date I later discovered that it was the exact date my grandmother (who is also my godmother), and grandfather got married. And more than that when we get married next year on that day, they will be celebrating what would be their 75th wedding anniversary. When I found this out I was so delighted to hear and this makes it extra special for me, so it goes to show how all works out in the end.
So all in all, I recommend when your starting out, start early, have your checklist, do your research, pick the venue first that is everything you want and love and then pick your date and you will know the ‘one’
Below are a few photographs from my own venue Leighinmohr House Hotel where I will be 6 months from today!
Good luck with your search.
What’s Next in my Wedding Series?
Keep a watch for the next series when I’m talking about saying ‘YES TO THE DRESS’.