choosing your wedding venue

One of the first things you will need to organise when planning your wedding is the venue.  It’s not always easy – besides trying to find a venue that you love and that suits your style there are lots of other considerations including budget, number of guests and location (e.g. elderly relatives who can’t travel far or friends with kids who may not be able to attend a destination wedding).  Here is a run down on a few types of venues, the pro’s and con’s and some of the things to consider in relation to each of them.

Backyard

I personally love weddings held in backyards as they give you so much flexibility.  You can choose whichever caterer you prefer (or even have catering supplied by family/friends), supply your own alcohol, usually have more time to set up decorations prior to the wedding, and can party until whatever time you like!

A backyard wedding can be as simple or elaborate as you wish.  With all the money you save you can go all out and opt for a glamorous set up, perhaps even a marquee if your backyard is large enough, or if you prefer a more casual affair you can keep it simple and add lots of handmade, personalised touches to transform the space.

Things to consider before deciding on a backyard wedding are:

  • Do you require any permits (eg local council, service of alcohol/food)?
  • Are there any restrictions imposed by the local council as to what you can or can’t do or how much noise you can make?  (This may vary depending on whether the area is a high density residential area or a rural area with no neighbours for miles.)
  • Will you need to hire additional toilet facilities for your guests?
  • Will there be sufficient parking for your guests and, if not, are you able to make alternative arrangements (eg. a bus)?
  • Are there adequate kitchen facilities and enough room for the caterers or will it be necessary for them to bring in mobile kitchen facilities (which can end up costing you more)?
  • Do you need to consider a back up power supply?
  • Do you need to consider hiring security?

If you have a backyard wedding, just like with any large party it’s a good idea to let your neighbours know it is happening and give them contact details for someone in the event that there are any problems on the night.

BYO catering venue

If you don’t have a suitable backyard, the next best thing is a venue that allows you to bring your own catering.  These days venues such as town halls and bowling clubs are perfectly acceptable wedding venues and with the right styling you can completely transform what might be a plain space to start with.  There are also some lovely venues around such as rowing clubs, old houses (eg Mt Eliza House) and galleries (eg Kidogo), where you can BYO caterer or choose from a list of the venue’s preferred caterers.  Some caterers also allow you to supply your own alcohol.

If you can’t find a venue that allows you to bring your own catering you may at least be lucky enough to find one that allows you to bring your own alcohol which can be a real cost saving.

Many of these venues, not being traditional wedding venues, offer a bit more flexibility in terms of what you can do and will allow you to make your wedding what you want it to be.

Things to consider when checking out a BYO venue include:

  • Do they have their own venue coordinator?  If not you may need to consider hiring your own coordinator.
  • Do they provide furniture or will you need to hire your own?
  • Do they have a list of preferred caterers or can you use any caterer you like?
  • Will you have exclusive use of the whole venue or only part of it?
  • Can you bring your own alcohol or have your caterer arrange it, or does the venue supply alcohol?
  • How much is the venue hire fee?

Venue with in house catering

Most people choose to have their wedding at a venue which provides its own in house catering.  Many of these venues have done thousands of weddings which can be both an advantage and a disadvantage.  Yes, they have done it before and know what they are doing so there is a good chance of the event running smoothly.  It can, however, be a disadvantage in that some of these venues have a certain way of doing things and are not particularly open to being flexible or accommodating.  We personally had this problem when planning our wedding and had so many issues that that just over a month prior to the wedding we tried to find another venue.

If you are looking at booking a venue with their own catering I suggest you consider the following:

  • Who is their venue coordinator, how experienced are they and are you comfortable with them?  You will be working closely with this person, especially if you don’t hire a personal planner, so it’s important that they are someone you can work with and trust.
  • Are there any restrictions in terms of timing, menu or what you are allowed to do (band, decorations, bringing in cakes/lollies, or anything else you want to do that is a bit out of the ordinary)?  If there is something specific you want to do I suggest getting their approval in writing before signing the contract – we had issues with our venue telling us they could do certain things and then later backing down on them.
  • Does the existing decor fit in with the style of your wedding, or will you need to hire in decor?
  • When will you be able to obtain access to the venue to decorate it and when will your vendors be able to make deliveries and collections?
  • Are you happy with their menu options?  Are they flexible with menu options?  Will they cater for special dietary requirements?
  • Do they have any in house accommodation and will they give you any special rates for your guests?
  • Is there sufficient parking for guests?
  • Is there a minimum spend on food/beverages and/or a venue hire fee?

Marquee

Okay, so a marquee isn’t really a venue, as it can be used in any of the other venues mentioned in this post, but it really can completely transform any of the other venues so I thought it deserved its own mention.

Yes, I know that when you think of a marquee you probably think of one of those atrocious huge white things with the plastic archway windows and piles of white draping inside.  However a marquee does not necessarily have to be this way.    These days there are some gorgeous and luxurious marquees around – check out Zest Styling’s tipis or Villa Kula’s luxury tents for examples. Or if you prefer the feel of an open air reception  minus the risk of it being rained out you could opt for a marquee with clear walls and a clear roof, or a marquee with only a roof and no walls.

The benefit of having your reception inside a marquee is that they can be set up anywhere, and there are some beautiful settings in Perth for marquees, particularly near the water.  Many local catering companies know lots of good spots for marquee receptions so can be a great first point of contact.  They also come in different sizes and can accommodate a larger number of guests than many function rooms so can be a good option if you love a venue but they don’t have a room large enough (or that you like the look of) but have an area for a marquee.

Keep in mind that marquees can be quite expensive and in addition you need to hire furniture, toilet facilities (depending on the location) and possibly mobile kitchen/bar facilities, but the benefit is that they are a blank canvas and be decorated with lanterns, fairylights, chandeliers, paper pom poms, colourful bunting, hanging decorations or whatever you desire.

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