Cambridge Wedding Photography I Wedding Planning Tips #1

Cambridge Wedding and Family Portrait Photographer

Finding your perfect wedding venue.

There is so much to think about when planning your big day. There is a lot of expectations to live up to so I hope this will go some way to help you when deciding on your perfect wedding venue and the questions you need to ask to ensure the best fit. First and foremost your wedding should be all about the two of you. Be prepared to compromise a little but keep in mind your ‘must haves’, after all it is your day and you will want to do everything you can to ensure that your wedding day is just perfect.


Do you want the reception and ceremony in the same place?

If you are thinking of having your reception and ceremony in the same place you need to ensure the venue holds the special licences required to host legally binding ceremonies. This may dramatically reduce the number of locations you have to select from. A search on your council’s website for your chosen area will give you a list of possible venues. You could also check local wedding blogs or forums for wedding venues in your area. Your other option of course is to hold your wedding in church or local register office, you are then free to hold your reception anywhere that can cater for the needs and big enough to fit all your guests. For this consider venues that are within a reasonable distance of each other.

Home or Away

Often couples will get married near to where they live or where they / the bride grew up. The family home can often be the base for the bridal preparations too. With that said you should not let this influence your decision, instead choose a location that you are both happy with. You may wish to consider where your guests are travelling from and will they require overnight accommodation? If so provide a list of hotels nearby.

Alternatively a lot of couples opt to get married abroad where the weather is less unpredictable. This of course changes the dynamics of your day dramatically with the number of guests able to attend, the location and potentially the time of year you can get married. For destination weddings you would probably choose to have a wedding co-ordinator who would be ale to make the necessary arrangements for you.

Who to invite!

The average number of guests attending a wedding is 100/120. To help keep your budgeting on track draw up a list and not leave it to guess work. It can sometimes be a painful exercise with who to invite. Often weddings in the UK have a two tiered approach those invited to the ceremony and reception and those invited to the evening reception. Don’t forget that you will be covering the cost of the wedding breakfast, wine and champagne so this can be a good way to make your budget go a little further.

Venue Wedding Co-ordinator

Most venues will have an in-house wedding co-ordinator. These people are invaluable to the smooth running of the day. They will be able to provide you with a list of recommended suppliers that they have worked with in the past and tell you about the venue and the surrounding area.

When is the big day?

The wedding season and therefore a majority of weddings take place in the spring and summer months but winter weddings are proving popular too particularly if you are planning a winter themed weddings.  In the summer months group photographs tend to be taken outside because of space and available light during the longer summer days. The tendency for summer weddings is to look for a venue with large open outdoor spaces to have the pre dinner drinks reception and for photo opportunities. Consider when looking for your winter wedding friendly alternative a venue with a big staircase, fireplaces or a feature wall. We have all heard the phrase “Typical British Weather” and sadly this is one thing that will be outside your control. Even if you are planning your wedding in the summer months you should be prepared for the possible inclement weather.

Themed weddings

You probably already have an idea of how you want your day to be. After all you have been planning this in your head for several years, long before that special person came into your life. Your ideal will steer you towards your venue accordingly. You probably have a Pinterest style board for inspiration. I have pieced together some of those themes to assist you:

Country Cottage Garden

Think small village churches and village halls that can be hired for relatively little cost and transformed into a charming quaint reception venue. Dress with posies of fresh flowers, bunting and decorations to match your theme. Search the internet for lots of creative DIY decorations, vintage china and accent details that will add to the charm of your wedding day.

Earthly Charms

Old barns and farm outhouses can be made to look stunning by adding a theme that compliments your surroundings. The exposed rafters and vaulted barn ceilings will look amazing when decorated with fairy lights and garlands of wild flowers and foliage. Incorporate the vintage theme with pretty mismatched vintage crockery, bunting and posies of wild flowers in jam jars. And your photo’s will also look amazing.

Grand Country Homes

You’ll be surprised how many stately homes have been given over to stage luxurious, elegant weddings. If your budget will run to it a stately home will provide the magical fairytale wedding. The grandeur of these impressive buildings will transport you to a world of opulence and luxury.

Modern Chic

If you want luxury with a modern twist then you may want to consider a modern contemporary hotel. Many large hotels are having to compete with the small boutique hotels to offer chic surroundings with a touch of decadency. Offering plush soft furnishings and carpets, subdued lighting and luxury finishes these hotels will offer a sleek modern feel to your wedding.

Festival Delights

Not been able to find your exact venue to meet all your needs? Marquees or Yurts can offer the perfect solution and act as a blank canvas to your wedding day preparations. Search for specialist companies who can provide an end to end service. Of corse there are logistic considerations with this type of venue, but if you have a garden large enough it can be a great alternative.


It may be that your venue is not equipped to cater for your wedding and use external caterers, some preferring to use a supplier who is familiar with the venue. You may be given a list of recommended suppliers or search on the internet for local companies to get a few quotes and menus to select from. Be sure to know up front what additional charges you may be reasonable for i.e. tables, chairs, linen etc in addition to the cost of the food.

Breakdown of costs

Once you have narrowed down your venue selection ask each one to provide you with a detailed breakdown of costs. Some will offer an all in price per head which includes linen, candles, chair covers etc. Of course make sure you are comparing like for like but above all your final choice should be the venue where you can visualise yourself being on your special day.


If your guests are driving to the venue ensure there is enough parking, if transport is being provided enquire with the venue what the arrangements are for coaches.  If disable access is required check for ramps, disable toilets and lifts etc.

Check and double check

Once you have decided on your venue and have received your contract check through the details carefully that you are being billed for. You will have been informed if there are clauses in there regarding minimum numbers, menu and wine prices. Does it include VAT and service? You should not expect any surprises when paying the final bill but maybe factor in a contingency fund in case. Remember to keep the venue updated with any changes as they happen and comply with the venue’s cut off date for amendments. Note if your venue have any restrictions i.e. confetti, stiletto shoes on wooden flooring, fireworks etc

If you are planning a wedding or special event please get in touch by using my contact me page on my website or by email






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