There’s a reason why venue dressing has become big business – it takes a lot of time and effort. Lighten the load with our top tips…
1. When viewing venues, take stock of how the function space gels with the theme or palette you have in mind. If you imagine your wedding to be a glamourous all-white soirée, booking a homely barn won’t achieve the look you’re after. Similarly, if you love the exterior of a castle, but the reception room has rich claret wallpaper and a busy baroque carpet, you’ll have to rule out a pastel colour scheme. The venue’s decor should complement, not clash, with the aesthetic styling choices you’ll be making.
2. Before you start dropping deposits on suppliers, find out what floor space you’ll have to play with. Some venue’s maximum numbers can leave things quite tight, so organsing light-up letters, a photobooth and pop-up bar might not be possible. Map it out and ensure you take note of the layout of the room. There might be an open space that’d be perfect for a selfie station, but if it’s going to block a fire escape then you’ll have to abandon your plans at the last minute.
3. “Confirm your set up and break down times at the venue. If the hotel has a wedding the day before will you only get access in the morning? Will you need to take everything out that night? Will the venue help with this? If not, enlist some volunteers to get all décor packed away, and don’t forget the thank you gifts!” says Frances Maria Douglas, Daydreamer Events Studio.
4.”If you’re looking to hang any lanterns or lights, firstly make sure your venue allows this, and check if they have any restrictions on how you can attach them to walls or ceilings. Also check where plug points are, or if there aren’t any then look into battery-powered LED lights. Finally, check that your venue has ladders to use, don’t spring it on them at the last minute!” says Lindsey Hunter, Get Knotted.
5. “Communicate your styling plans with the venue’s wedding co-ordinator. For example, not all venues allow staircases to be wrapped with floral garlands and this can be the case for a lot of larger items too. We’ve been turned away with eight-foot trees before, and it’s always disappointing for couples not to achieve their exact vision of how everything should come together on the day,” says Cora Craig, Ginger & Lime Event Design & Florist
6. “If your venues allows the use of real candles – ensure you check this! – purchase ones that will have a burning length that’ll last the night. The tea lights you can buy on the high street are affordable, but they will last an hour or so if you’re lucky. You can purchase long-burning tea lights and candles online, so shop around,” says Frances Maria Douglas, Daydreamer Events Studio.
7. “Believe it or not, the most common thing that we have found is people forget to include themselves (bride and groom) in their numbers! We even had one bride that forgot to include their top table and phoned a week before to add an extra ten settings when they realised,” says Jackie Henderson, Gordon’s Cater Hire
8. Styling your venue is exciting! But it’s so important not to get lost in a sea of Pinterest boards and go totally overboard. Keep things cohesive and consistent. For example, if you’re going for a particular shade of teal, carry around a swatch in your purse. That way you won’t end up buying things that aren’t a good colour match (FYI pictures on your phone aren’t reliable). If you’re going for a theme, don’t over-complicate things. You can have a Disney wedding without walking down the aisle with Minnie Mouse ears on: sporadic touches are much more interesting.
9. “You have no doubt visited your venue a couple of times, but has it only been during the day? Visit at night and look at the lighting in the room. Avoid bringing in too much up-lighting. It looks beautiful to add ‘soft’ colour-wash lights to the room, but in smaller venues, it’s incredibly overpowering and everyone looks same colour as the room in pictures,” says Frances Maria Douglas, Daydreamer Events Studio.
10. You’ll also need to decide where presents should be collated. You’ll need a table where guests can leave them, but it’s a good idea to ask someone to start taking them somewhere safe once all the evening guests have arrived. If you’ve opted for a gift list, this won’t be an issue as the pressies are delivered to your house at a later date, but is especially important if you’ve asked for money and even more crucial if your venue isn’t exclusive use.