Some considerations to have in mind when choosing your wedding venue in Hampshire or Dorset!

Some considerations to have in mind when choosing your Hampshire or Dorset wedding venue!

As if choosing your Bournemouth wedding photographer isn’t hard enough, if you haven’t done so already, choosing a wedding venue is one of the biggest decisions you will need to make regarding your big day!

For many couples this will involve two locations, one for the wedding ceremony and one for the reception. There are so many stunning wedding venues in Dorset and Hampshire that you really are spoilt for choice! Sometimes having too much choice is worse than having too little. To name a few of the most popular venues in this area, the Italian Villa at Compton Acres, Sopley Mill, The Priory, Lulworth Castle, The Old Vicarage…the list is endless.

There are lots of options for the wedding ceremony itself. For religious couples or those wanting a church wedding, one of the most important things is to make enquiries well in advance as to what you may need to do in order to get married at a particular church. Many churches require the couples to worship there and attend regularly for a good few months before the wedding. Also ask the church whether they allow photography as some churches do not allow photography during the ceremony at all which may put you off using that church, or they may impose restrictions, such as no flash and it is helpful to tell your photographer of this (although he or she should ask this in advance as part of their preparations).

If you would prefer a civil ceremony, then you have the choice of one of the local registry offices, for example at Bournemouth Town Hall or Poole Registry Office, or you can find a licenced venue. The laws on marriage are quite old fashioned and restrictive in this country, therefore do check that the place you have chosen for your wedding ceremony can actually legally marry you! There have been occasions when people have found out later on that their marriage is not legally recognised! This is an unpleasant surprise that you do not want to encounter sometime in the future! With the growing trend of couples wanting to get married somewhere outdoors in a location which is personal to them, there have been calls to bring the marriage laws more up to date, but for now and until such times as the legislation is amended, tread with caution and ask questions! If you are intending to get married abroad, also make sure that you can comply with any local requirements and that you prepare the appropriate paperwork well in advance to avoid any disappointment. Russ and I got married in Cyprus and so we went through all this ourselves and in the end we hired a wedding planner as it was so difficult to get through to the registry office in Paphos and to understand exactly what documents they required. There was a significant amount of paperwork which we had to get together (including documents witnessed by solicitors) and which Russ had to get translated (as he is Ukrainian) before we could legally be married in Cyprus. This all took time, so don’t leave things until the last minute!

Once you have chosen the venue for your ceremony, you need to think about the wedding reception. It is advisable to have the reception somewhere nearby so that your guests don’t nned to drive miles from one place to another. It may also be wise to consider whether any of your guests are coming from afar or if they intend to drink alcohol, as they may need to be able to find somewhere to stay nearby as not everyone will want to pay the hotel prices where the reception is being held.

Many hotels and wedding venues in Dorset and Hampshire offer wedding packages, which is a great option if you don’t want the stress of having to organise everything yourself and co-ordinate lots of different suppliers. The venues will usually include the food, the catering staff, the tables, the decorations, a dancefloor and the option of accommodation and some packages even include a wedding planner. However, do ask questions and make sure you are absolutely clear as to what is and isn’t included. Some people may find this option restrictive as they would prefer to select their own caterers or their own food so you need to find the option that best suits you.

Marquees are also a good option for wedding receptions, and these can work out cheaper than hiring a venue. Many companies providing tents or marquees will also offer tables, chairs and generators etc, however it is likely that you will have to organise everything else yourself. You will need to consider not only where your wedding guests will sit, stand or dance, but where the catering staff can go. On the plus side, these weddings allow you complete freedom to get creative and plan as you wish. Do, however, consider the location carefully, particularly if some of your guests are disabled, elderly or have young children, as having your wedding reception at the top of a huge hill may be private and very romantic, but it might spoil the day for a lot of people including you if someone’s ninety year-old grandma keels over half way up and an ambulance gets called! This tends to spoil the ambience! Barns are also a popular option now as they tend to be cheaper and more flexible than hotel wedding packages, but do provide a lot of the catering and other aspects as a package. This gives some freedom to get creative, but takes away the stress of having to organise almost everything yourself.

For brides and grooms looking for a more informal and/or cheaper option for their wedding venue, a local restaurant, bar or even pub is a good option. Most places will allow you exclusive use of their venue and will help you design your ideal wedding menu. This can be an advantage as you may already know the type of food they do there. You can also find out whether they will provide any entertainment, such as a disco, band or musician for your guests.

Whichever Hampshire or Dorset wedding venue you set your heart on, the most important thing is to ask questions. Don’t feel embarrassed to check exactly what is included in any packages being offered and if the venue is reluctant to answer your questions, step back and think whether you actually want to give your money to such a venue and spend one of the most important days of your life there. If they aren’t being helpful even before they get your cash, they may not be at all helpful once they have it so just be careful! Fortunately, in places like Bournemouth the majority of venues are very professional and will be glad to answer any questions you have.

One of the questions you should ask is whether there are any restrictions at the venue. By way of an example, some places will not play music later than a certain time so as not to disturb their other guests or neighbours and this may be a real dampener if you have managed to get your guests up on the dance floor. Also, check whether your venue is licenced to sell alcohol, as if not, you’ll need to include this in your budget by supplying your own. Most couples want the classic confetti photograph, so make sure your guests are allowed to throw confetti or check if only a certain type of confetti is permitted and tell your guests in advance!

And, talking of classic wedding photos don’t forget to leave some room in your budget for your Dorset or Hampshire wedding photographer! As, once the big day is over, you’ll want the photographs of your beautiful venue to look back on in the years to come!



Couple standing in front of Sopley Mill at night

Couple standing in front of Sopley Mill at night