My post earlier this week about the time I went on a site visit to a disused tube station got me thinking more about venues. So to continue that theme, I thought I’d write next about how to decide where to hold your ‘do!
When an event first starts forming, the key questions are Where? When? Format? Budget?
The venue can be a huge part of how successful the event is, and it is often a very personal choice with deep meaning and emotion attached to particular places. But what if you don’t have any idea of where you want to hold your event? What if you are literally starting from scratch and have the entire country to choose from (or world…destination wedding anyone?). It can seem overwhelming and you can also get FOMO where you don’t want to choose somewhere unless somewhere better comes along later.
So where to even start??
You can first narrow it down by size. If you’re having a seated dinner for 700 people this will influence where you can go. There are a lot of handy venue search websites that let you enter criteria like number of guests, so have a browse. But first…
Think about what ‘feel’ you’re after. Classical architecture with grand and imposing features? Or a cool, urban blank canvas that you can put your own stamp on? Ask yourself how you want your guests to feel, dress, act. Imagine the type of venue you can imagine your event being in.
What format is the event? Indoor? Outdoor? Formal speeches or presentations (think about sightlines in this instance)? Separate space for reception or dancing? Think about your schedule and what is going on, and what your needs are. Do you need a stage?
Then finally, how much do you have to spend? Don’t depress yourself by going to explore a palace when it will break your budget. Instead think about what aspects the palace had that attracted you in the first place and try to instead find them elsewhere. Bear in mind that you can achieve a lot with clever lighting and dressing.
Then here are some other to consider:
Holding your party in a deserted warehouse you can cover in fairy lights will look amazing and you’ll feel so cool. BUT does it is have running water? Does it have toilets? Does it have electricity to plug in the amazing atmospheric fairy lights? What about the fridge to keep your drinks cold? Where will the caterers put the oven? We take essentials like this for granted and it can really bite you in the arse. So think about the basic facilities and not just the grand picture.
If you book a stunning venue it will need less dressing so might cost you more to hire, but you’ll save money in other areas. Likewise, you can save on venue hire fee and then dress to your hearts content and create something surprising and unique.
Another point on stunning venues though- if for example they are open to the public (like a museum or art gallery) then your set up time will be squeezed into an unbelievably narrow time slot. Like one hour. The public leave at 5pm, and your production company starts bringing in lights and tables ready for guests to arrive at 6pm. This is often why venues have approved suppliers lists, so that they have companies they can trust with this sort of time frame and who they know can still deliver things on time without damaging the walls flinging things around in a panic.
Fun fact on approved suppliers lists, there is a certain type of aphid that will eat art canvases. So some venues with artwork inside will only allow certain florists to work there who use certain pesticides to kill that aphid and not bring them inside or they might end up destroying a priceless Picasso. By eating it.
Are you having live music and is there a sound limiter? In case you don't know what that is, it is basically a device that will cut off your PA system completely if it measures decibels above a certain level. Yep, a bit of a mood killer. In my opinion there is a special place in hell reserved for sound limiters. You’ve been warned. You'll sometimes see them above dance floors with evil red lights flashing, which means you're in the danger zone.
Also think about hidden costs. Is WIFI essential to your event and how much will the venue charge you to use theirs? Do you have to bring in security? Is there a commission on the suppliers? Is there a late licence fee? Can you load in/load out at your required times or is that an extra cost?
There are lots of things to consider and most places are quite good at laying it all out on their websites but it's wise to narrow down what you want and need before you go looking or it can get into a tangled mess. Or worse, you'll set your heart on somewhere and then find out it is totally wrong for your event. Do a bit of planning first and then get looking. Good luck!
I hope this post is helpful, and if you ever have any other queries or want a hand then let me know I’d love to hear from you. You can email me at firstname.lastname@example.org
On this note, I also thought I’d share my Pinterest board I have put together (and am adding to constantly) with event inspiration. I am a huge huge fan of pinterest, as someone who is both very organised and very visual I really enjoy collecting content in one place, all neatly sorted into boards for each topic. It is generally just a great resource and rather than a social media platform it is better to think of it as a search engine, where you can find anything and put a pin in it for later so it’s always accessible. Perfect for dreams, inspiration or just somewhere to store all the kitten pics you can find.