When it comes to choosing a venue, the first thing people look at is how pretty a place is. It is a great start as this is what everyone else sees too. There is however some critical areas to consider which can really hamper your day or your photographs.
What transforms a venue from being good to making it really special is two very important elements. Great service and awesome food! Service is something hard to see when visiting a venue and not everyone samples the food. Having been so many venues I am now feeling like a hotel inspector!
The great news it then means I can offer valued feedback to you. When going to venues now I look for the following points:
When finding a beautiful venue it is possible without breaking the bank. Sometimes, it’s what is a stones throw away from it can help transform your images. For example if you are in the Lake District and have a lovely hotel with gardens but want a lake view with the lake only two minutes drive away. It may be worth still considering the hotel as you can always drive to the Lake for a quick photo.
Looks are down to the individual of course so I am not going to go into too much in this topic only to suggest that if you have found something that looks amazing make sure that the view cannot be impeded. For example, you have been sold on the venue by its frontage to be only shocked when two transit vans are parked there on the day. Check with the venue to see if they can put cones out to retain the looks of the chosen venue.
Pictured is the very beautiful venue: Friars Carse, Scotland which is certainly worthy of a mention.
Whilst looks does help a long way, photograph ability is slightly different. For example if you are in a stunning room but its pitch black and low ceilings this may cause an issue. A common barrier is having a small room so the ceremony table is at the back wall thus restricting the movement of the photographer and angles being able to capture.
Large windows helps with natural lighting a lot. Small narrow windows can make the room look timeless too. Just making sure that it is light enough to capture without too much nasty light (For example fluorescent tubes) will help a long way. A building that has several little quirks too it to allow movement and more choice in your photos is a huge plus.
The key to a seamless wedding. Food and Drink do not serve themselves. An efficient team to make sure your timings are run like clockwork and knowing you do not have to worry about anything really can make you experience a whole lot better. I am not going to name and shame as there are plenty out there with amazing venues only to be let down by service that does not match. The higher you pay the better the service you get really does happen unless it is the best of the best. I have photographed venues that has cost tens of thousands to come away thinking what a ‘let down’ it was for the couple who invested so much for their day for the venue to choose profit over service.
Try the food and it looks and tastes great you are on to a winner. Not trying it will mean you are taking a risk. I have had better food on an airplane connecting flight than some premium venues. Service will play a part in this. If hot food then goes cold as its not brought out then this will have some effect.
Can your guests park at the venue. If it is in a village for example and you expect 60 cars factor this into your planning and look at a plan to help guest know where to park. Also find out if you have a disabled guest, if there is a parking space or drop off to allow them to access the site without a problem.
City centre wedding parking can be expensive depending on the city and can cost up to £12 an hour to park. This may put some guests in staying late so again, find best price parking and hotels with free parking as an update to your guests to save them doing this.
So you picked an amazing venue which is down a private narrow country lane. On this note, ordering a stretched limousine is not the best idea or you will end up walking. I have seen this happen.
So after all that said, here are the venues that stand really out above the rest:
THE BEST VENUES NAMED
Astley Bank Hotel
What makes it a winner?
Astley Bank is a hidden gem and is worthy of any wedding award. The service here really is something special. With staff that have been here for many years, the reason why is clear. Everyone knows what they are doing, what is happening and cares about bringing excellence. Even the receptionist will get stuck in at points. The personal feel of the place really resonates.
Everything you need within 30 yards, this means you can get a variation of group shots, individual shots all in one place with a slight rotation. This is a huge win if you don’t want to spend much time on your photos or walking around but still allow for some great shots.
It’s small enough to be personal but large enough to accommodate 120 guests with 36 rooms for those who wish to stop over. Within private grounds kids can stay safe in the confines with a stones throw away from the moors. The food itself is awesome. Let’s be honest if everyone has a good hot meal, you have happy guests and something to dance about.
It offers great value for money too and nothing better feeling like you have got your monies worth. The rooms for the ceremony, food and night function has large wrap around windows so even on the dullest winters day, it is bright enough to show your radiance. Less than 5 minutes from a major motorway junction too for easy access.
Atmosphere is in plenty at Astley Bank. The personal feel to the place really makes it worthy of a great weddding
Sandhole Oak Barn
What makes it a winner?
There is a reason why Sandhole Oak Barn is one of the most popular venues in the North West of England. In the heart of the Cheshire countryside nestled between cornfields accessed by a long private drive you enter into a wedding commune with a set of little private cottage feel stoned rooms for accommodation with opulent parking and a set of barns. The main barn to the rear with outstanding views of a lake and outside ceremony facilities for the summer.
The room where you get changed is mirror heaven! With more mirrors than Dunelm you will be sure you will not miss a single thing. Warm and inviting with cosy temperatures, the only thing you need to do is to remember to walk down the aisle.
The main barn is spotless. The cleanest place I have ever been too! No need to bring your duster as this place stuns you for how amazing clean it is. With large oak beams, high ceilings and windows to let natural light in, it offers a vibrant and warm feeling.
Large balcony areas over the lake will win it for many. To add too, a small pond and other quaint features are onsite. Sandhole Oak Barn is ran with military precision, with service being a huge win here. Your wedding day will run smoother than a Rolls Royce Phantom.
Here is a sunset shot for you at the rear field
You can really imagine spending a joyous evening here with a wine in your hand, the sound of celebrations in the background watching the reflection of the moon in the lake.