So, he put a ring on it did he? Congratulations! Exhilarating and fun-filled times lie ahead. Nevertheless, there are some imperative decisions to be made in the process of organising your big day. 

One of those is undoubtedly selecting your wedding venue. This could be your heftiest expense and you simply can’t afford to ignore it. Here are some key factors to bear in mind to help you make the best possible choice.

Show me the money

Once you’ve discovered that perfect venue, you need to consider the pricelist. Venue hire charges, let alone the complete fee after you’ve considered those added extras, could leave you with a lump in your throat and your wallet decidedly empty.

During peak wedding season, prices are sky high. If you’re planning a weekend extravaganza during this time, expect to pay even more.

Even if you don’t wed during that time, fees throughout the warmer months of September to April are steeper than those throughout the colder months of May to August. Also, you’ll be charged less for a weekday wedding, than a weekend or public holiday wedding. 

No deposit + no contract = no venue!

Just a reminder, certain venues’ prices exclude VAT! If you miss this vital detail, you’ll get a nasty surprise when you find out that you need to pay an extra 14% of all your venue costs. Ouch. Oh, and if you’re reaching for your cheque book, hold your horses. Most venues don’t accept cheques and require you to make deposits directly into their bank account. 

Save the date

When you have a demanding job, different work schedules and siblings with school or university exams to write, setting a date that suits everyone can be a real pain. If you’ve finally figured it out, only to discover that your venue is not available on that date, here’s what you need to do:

Firstly, understand that if your venue is a popular choice or highly sought after, booking in advance is key. You may need to book your venue up to a year before the time to secure the date. Some venues have calendars on their websites that can be used to check availability, so keep your eye on these if you are very keen on particular venues.

In the event that you have a possible date or venue in mind, yet are not 100% sure if it’s the right one for you, you could provisionally book the date. Provisional bookings are held for a limited time only, which is often two weeks, although it could be less. If you don’t make a concerted effort to confirm your booking before that time has lapsed, you may lose your date. 

Bear in mind that making a provisional booking could involve paying a deposit, although in a few cases you’ll only be required to pay if another couple shows interest in your reserved date. If however you are confirming your booking, you’ll definitely be obligated to pay a deposit, which is frequently 50% of your total venue bill. You’ll also need to hand-in a signed contract. 

No deposit + no contract = no venue!

Read more: 5 things to do before settling on a wedding vendor

Even if you have finalised your venue and are bursting with excitement, life happens and things don’t always turn out as we expect them to. This could mean a potential wedding postponement or even calling off your wedding. Sometimes a cancellation will have to be made. 

Sadly, this could result in a financial loss. Certain venues will hold on to the deposit that you originally paid as they consider it non-refundable. The total amount that you owe the venue typically goes up, as the pre-arranged date draws nearer. That’s why the sooner you get the cancellation done, the less money you will lose. Be wary that if you cancel less than three months before your wedding is supposed to be held, you may be bound to pay all venue costs- in full.

A slightly different venue policy involves the rented space being at your disposal for a full 24 hour period.

At the stroke of the clock

If you love the nightlife, partying until the break of dawn would probably be your idea of a kick-ass celebration. Depending on your venue, you may need to take a leaf out of Cinderella’s book and make a dash before time runs out. 

Almost every venue will have a cut off time by which you need to end your reception. Thereafter, your festivities will come at an extra rate, generally billed per hour. Even so, you might only be allowed to extend your reception to a specified time in the morning. For numerous venues, this would be roughly 1h30-2h00.

In the event that your venue has multiple events rooms, the party could be moved to an alternative area after the indicated ending time. If you like the sound of this, take note that this space may not be fully equipped and furnished. You might have to see to it that the space is properly setup for your late night rendezvous- at a further expense, of course. 

Like the wedding celebration itself, times for setup and breakdown are also usually restricted, with additional stipends payable for going overtime. In the case of setting up, you’ll have to hand over a few extra bucks for beginning earlier, and in the case of breakdown, for finishing off later.

Venues are accommodating of the fact that getting a room ready can be time consuming, and could let you in from as early as 7h00 or 8h00. It’s possible that your wedding may need to be broken down by approximately the same time the morning after, or potentially a little bit later. Ensure that your suppliers are clued up on the stipulated times, or that you are wide awake and clearheaded enough, to take care of the necessary activities yourself.

Read more: Answers to your biggest wedding dilemmas

A slightly different venue policy involves the rented space being at your disposal for a full 24 hour period. Within this time, you’ll need to setup, host your wedding, and breakdown the function. This gives you the freedom to decide when you’d like to get started and end off. As you probably expected, there is a payment due if you run over the agreed upon time slot.

...be alert that you might have no choice but to incur the cost of particular items, in spite of your package being customised.

A one package deal

If you don’t have a clue where to start when it comes to planning your wedding, preset wedding packages can be enormously helpful. They outline every product and service that the venue offers, normally with the corresponding price and any rules or special offers that they have in relation to that. Because of the wide variety of offerings that certain venues have, a large proportion of your wedding expenses could be incorporated into a venue package. 

Restricting yourself to choosing one of the presented packages can make life simpler and take care of many wedding necessities in one go. The downside is that you might not be too keen on certain items in the package and there’s no room to play around with various venue offerings – what you see, black on white, is what you get.

Thankfully, many venues are open to being more flexible with their packages. Other times, no standardised packages are on offer. Each package is tailored to the couple’s individual needs. On this occasion, venues will generally indicate a specific rate for hiring the needed space, with the cost of all other items being added to that. However, be alert that you might have no choice but to incur the cost of particular items, in spite of your package being customised. 


A living, breathing, wedding Filofax 

Conveniently, numerous venues have in-house coordinators, some of whom will attend to your every need- including things that aren’t offered by the venue, like your hairdresser and makeup artist. A few venues might compel you to use their coordinator, although most venues are happy to let you shop around for another if you wish. 

In situations where it is mandatory for you to use the in-house coordinator, that might not be necessary throughout the planning process or for all aspects of your planning. You may only be required to consult the in-house coordinator for issues concerning the venue, such as the number of tables in the reception area. Otherwise, for logistical reasons, you may only be expected to use the in-house coordinator if your wedding date is around the corner and you don’t already have a coordinator.

Watch this space for next episode in this series…

More on how to plan your dream wedding:

5 top tips for picking the perfect wedding photographer

How to plan a wedding in under 3 months