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The big mistakes couples make when scoping out a wedding venue

Weddings are always emotional events, but choosing a venue for the big day calls for common sense and careful research.

Elizabeth Hollingsworth, who runs My Event Décor in Brighton, in Melbourne’s east, has seen couples make plenty of mistakes when trying to pick the perfect spot. She says most of the time, couples get tripped up by either making assumptions or not thinking about the big picture.

Hollingsworth, who sources unique themed decor for corporate events, festivals, fundraisers, product launches and openings, as well as weddings, explains the biggest blunders – and how to avoid them. 

Wedding reception set up

Make sure you know what you want from a wedding venue.

1. Not thinking about access

Hollingsworth says many couples fail to consider how guests will actually get to the wedding. It’s vital to take into account car access or if there is public transport nearby.

If there’s no (or little) public transport, guests are forced to take Ubers and taxis. Some guests may not be able to afford this so they’ll likely have to drive, which means they won’t drink at all and won’t let their hair down.

“They may also have to book accommodation, especially if it’s at say, a winery outside the capital cities. This becomes an expensive wedding for many guests,” she says.

The search: 5 tips for narrowing down your wedding venue

2. Being set on Saturday

Couples often only ask venue operators for the first availability for a Saturday night wedding and not for any other days of the week – and this is foolish, according to Hollingsworth.

There are only 52 Saturdays per year and over 100,000 couples marry every year, so you face stiff demand. As a result, venues charge a high premium to book weddings on this day, which means you’ll be paying a lot more and waiting months, if not a couple of years, for the most popular venues.

Consider getting married mid-week, as it can save thousands of dollars on venue and decor hire and reduce the wait.

Nail the day: 6 steps to running the perfect event

240 Bungower Road Mornington

Understand what’s included and what’s extra from the venue.

3. Falling into the Instagram trap

Hollingsworth says couples have to look beyond the beautifully styled shots of venues on social media platforms like Instagram. It’s easy, she says, to see a photo and fall in love with everything and think that’s what a wedding there will look like. Wrong!

Most venues work with stylists, event decor hire companies and florists to supply all the gorgeous decorative details you see in their Instagram photos to make their spaces look as amazing as possible.

“If you see items like furniture, cutlery and table number suppliers mentioned in such posts, these items are not included in your venue’s package – and you will have to pay extra to get the style you want,” she says.

4. Wanting lots of changes

The selected venue should have about 85 per cent of what you want décor and style wise, Hollingsworth says, as every change equals money.

Pay very close attention to the existing décor, fittings and furnishings of a venue space on your site tour. Is your venue space an empty shell of a room or is it already decorated?.

“If you dislike the venue chairs, for example, and want to replace them with something fancier, you immediately add hundreds of dollars to your budget. You will create a different stylistic impact depending on whether it already has dark carpet, patterned carpet, polished wooden floorboards, terrazzo, polished concrete or tiles. What about its window treatments? Does it have LED ceiling lights, fluorescent lighting strips, coloured spotlights or chandeliers?”

All of these types of flooring, window and lighting treatments create a different effect and may mean you spend more – or less – to achieve a chosen look.

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