Wedding Woes – How to Find the Perfect Venue

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It’s been a while since my last wedding post but I’ve got a bit of wedding fever at the moment – I have my chosen wedding venue’s wedding fair next week which should help us decide on a few more details as well as give my maid of honour & best friend a chance to finally see the venue. This time last year when we started looking at venues we had no idea how much was involved or what pricing would be like.
– First and foremost if you have not decided on your budget and date or even have any indication do this before starting your research. Your venue will normally account for at least half your budget so if you don’t have a limit set it can throw the whole wedding into a spiral. 
Also being flexible on your date can help you afford that dream venue by having it off-peak such as November or January. Weekday weddings are also becoming very popular due to price reductions. 
Most 4* Hotel packages start around €49/head and some will have set prices for 100 people with additional people charged at a higher rate (e.g. €4495 for 100 people – just under €45/head but each guest over 100 charged €55/head.
While venue limitations can be both monetary and capacity – it’s easy to fall in love with a venue and want to make it happen no matter what!
– Do some research – I sat down with my laptop and did out an excel sheet of every wedding venue within an hour/hour and a half radius of Dublin, both so we wouldn’t be stressing with time frames and guests wouldn’t be forced to stay over or have to spend too long travelling. Some of the headings I used were Price per head, Included (e.g. free bridal suite, bar extension), Room prices – can be easy to leave this one out! Comment below if you want more info 🙂
Glasson Golf Hotel, Athlone
– Decide on a style – country house, hotel, modern, outdoors,boutique, destination – there are so many choices nowadays. Pinterest is amazing for ideas of how rooms can be dressed up, but remember a lot of it is US based, so if you’re going with a package deal a lot of it won’t apply as in the US (and many others) you pay for the venue and then have to provide catering, dining, bar, etc. Once you decide on this, go back to your excel and cut out venues that don’t match your criteria. 
– Highlight or make plans to go see at least 3/4 venues – you can book in with most wedding/events co-ordinators for a meeting so they show you around the premises and you get more of a sense of the venue. If they do wedding fairs, try come back for another visit as it’s a totally different vibe and the main room where your reception will be is usually set up so you’ll see what it looks like. 
– After going to see a few venues, see how they relate on price. Of course at this stage you could have your mind made up or between 2 places, irrelevant of price. Who gives more bang for your buck, is there anything in the packages that you don’t want or want more of. 
Negotiate! Even if your dream venue is coming in under budget – see if you can get them down even more on price – this can be leaving out extras such as the bows on chairs that you might not want or including the bar extension in the price. The money is better in your pocket so you can add little touches to the tables or splash out in other areas of the wedding. 
Additional touches – Candy Buffet
We sent emails to each of our top venues seeing if we could get them down on price – one simply said there was nothing they could do and happy planning! Most venues will have a little leeway and will go out of their way to get your business.
Harvey’s Point, Lough Eske, Co.Donegal 
– Once you’ve finally picked your dream venue that meets all of your criteria, have a conversation (phone/email/in person) with the co-ordinator and establish exactly what will be in your contract before giving your deposit and signing off. Will there be any increases? (e.g. most hotels don’t tell you there will be a 7-11% increase in price per head due to inflation on food prices), if you’ve got any extras taken out – make sure they’re stated in the contract. 
Take the contract seriously and go through it with a fine-toothed comb – you don’t want to be on the hook and notice there’s a €5 supplement per head if you want beef on the menu or an extra choice. €5 doesn’t seem much but an average wedding in Ireland has between 101-150 guests, that’s up to €750 that could easily be spent elsewhere or that wouldn’t be accounted for. 
– Finally sign your contract. That wasn’t so bad was it? Now you have something solid for your wedding to work off and it really becomes reality from here.
Some great Irish based resources to help & inspire you:
Wedding Dates – check availability
I hope this helps you on your way to getting your venue sorted.
If you have any further comments or I’ve left something out please comment below!