As I mentioned in my post ‘how to start wedding planning’ finding a venue was the key part of the early stages of wedding planning that started a domino effect of so many decisions. I’ve followed quite a few local wedding photographers on Instagram for the last year or so – this gave me quite a good idea of the main venues in Hampshire and how the photograph. It allowed me to start a list of all the places I wanted to contact. I used the county council website as a key source of searching as they list every single venue that allows you to legally get married there. This was key for me I copy & pasted anywhere that intrigued me onto my list. It was also really interesting as some places that you’d never even dream of as wedding venues actually had licences. From train stations, cinemas to beautiful country houses – Hampshire alone really has it all. Myself and my fiance then sat down and asked the following questions:
- Does it need to be a certain distance from home? Our answer was simply we didn’t want our families to have to drive more than hour away to get there. This left us with 2 main counties to concentrate in – Dorset & Hampshire. (Luckily all of our family is pretty close by.)
- How many people do we want for the ceremony & wedding breakfast? At the time we thought we’d like 65 – we’ve since whittled it down to 50.
- How many people do we want to join us for the reception in the evening? Here our list always hit 100 (including day guests) regardless of changes so this was easy.
- Do we want the ceremony & the reception in the same place? In all honesty this was the hardest one to get a definitive answer on. We were torn and in the end financially it just made sense to find somewhere where we could do it all in one venue. Locations I liked for the evening were no-where near any registry offices in the area so including the cost of transport between the two didn’t add up – we might aswell just spend a little more on finding one venue than split this part of the budget across two & transport.
- When do we want to get married? Again this was easy – a June engagement led naturally to an Autumn wedding the year after, we had no particular date in mind just someone in September/ October.
- What day of the week do we want to get married? Thursday or Friday seemed like a natural fit for us as some of our favourite weddings that we’ve been lucky enough to attend have fallen on these days.
After answering these questions I could make the mother of all spreadsheets and start sending email enquiries to any venues that fitted the bill for us. Many turned red on that spreadsheet extremely quickly – with a relatively small budget being quoted £8,000 for just venue hire was quite eye watering. Also not many venues offered discounts for a Thursday or Friday wedding so the blanket charge was always higher. I’d almost lost hope until I found Sopley Mill in Christchurch that was a lot cheaper on a Thursday so completely fitted our needs both financially and we were just blown away with how beautiful it was. In fact it was the only venue we ended up looking at – my search on the internet before hand along with that spreadsheet meant I was sure this was perfect for us as soon as we stepped inside.