When it comes to selecting where to hold your civil marriage service, unlike with weddings in the Church, you are not restricted by local or parish boundaries. As a result, you are left with a huge number of potential civil wedding ceremony venues from which to choose. This article takes a closer look at the factors you should consider when searching for the ideal civil wedding or civil partnership ceremony location.
Distance from Starting Point
Unless you plan to stay at the venue or nearby hotel the night before, you will need to consider how long the journey will take for both partners on the day. Typically, a journey of up to 30 minutes is acceptable although remember that the longer you are travelling, the more nervous you may become, the more creased your outfit may get, and the more opportunity you will have to bail out (only kidding!). When considering potential civil wedding ceremony venues think about potential traffic congestion, the route you will take, and the mode of transport when considering how far from you are willing to travel.
Distance for ‘Special Guests’ to Travel
Older relatives will often struggle with long journeys to far afield wedding ceremony venues, so if you need to get Grandma, Grandpa, Uncle Eddie and Auntie Amy to arrive stress and worry free, think about how long they will need to travel. Also consider guests who don't drive and will be need to be picked up, guests who may need to take expensive taxi journeys and guests who have disabilities.
Distance to Reception
In the majority of cases, reception venues are the same as wedding ceremony venues. However, in some cases, particularly those civil weddings and civil partnerships held at Register Offices, the reception venue will be different, so again you should think about how far it is acceptable for both you and your guests to travel when leaving the service.
Easy / hard to find
Whilst most will be fine, some wedding ceremony venues are notoriously tricky to find, tucked away well off the beaten track. With this in mind, alongside distance and location, also pay careful attention to how easy the venue is to locate. How well signposted is it? Is it down small and windy country roads? Will inclement weather make it difficult to get to? These and other factors should all be considered prior to making your final decision – after all you don’t want the guests to arrive half way through, or worse still, not at all!
Parking at wedding ceremony venues is of obvious importance. Many venues will have their own parking facilities – but are they sufficient for the number of guests you are inviting? Try to get an idea of how many vehicles you will need spaces for, how many other guests are likely to be at the venue that day for other functions, and how far away from the actual venue the parking is (especially important in the case of Register Office ceremonies).
An obvious consideration, but sometimes forgotten, only consider wedding ceremony venues that have sufficient capacity to seat all of your guests. Sometimes (but by no means always) you will find that guests who have only been invited to the evening reception will also turn up for the ceremony. With this in mind, factor in the need for an extra 5-10% of seats when making your assessment.
State of repair of building
The exterior of the building is the first glimpse that the guests will have into what they can expect from the day. A shabby, uncared for building on the outside often reflects the attitudes of the staff on the inside, so be careful to look out for rubbish, clocks showing the wrong time, missing roof tiles, broken windows, flaky paintwork and alike. Remember, if you can spot them, you can be sure that your guests will spot them too!
Older venues in particular can have access problems. If you are inviting guests who use a wheelchair, or who have limited mobility, you will need to look out for ramps or wedding ceremony venues with limited stairs that need to be climbed. Alternative entrances may be available but not necessarily noticeable, so be sure to ask the venue about access.
Number of Ceremonies That Day
Many civil wedding ceremony venues hold multiple marriage and partnership ceremonies each day whilst others offer exclusive use. For some may not be an issue, but for others it can be. Common effects of multiple ceremonies can be the inability to decorate the room to your exact specifications, or the feeling that you are being somewhat rushed. Check with the venue if they do offer exclusive use or if they hold more than one ceremony each day, but perhaps more importantly, ask how long they allow between each one.
Day and Time Availability
If you have your heart set on a particular day, or have already announced when you are to tie the knot, then obviously you need to ensure that day is available at the venue. Likewise, if you have confirmed that there are multiple civil ceremonies at the venue that day you will need to see what timeslots are left available for you and whether or not they fit with your plans.
Grounds / outdoors
You will find that a number of photographs are taken outside of wedding ceremony venues, so make sure that the grounds are all to your satisfaction. Well kept pathways, well stocked flowerbeds, and well manicured lawns will definitely add to your images so keep an eye out for such things when making your decision.
Finally, cost is obviously imperative. Many civil wedding ceremony venues will either charge minimal costs or nothing at all (especially if you are holding a reception there afterwards), but some do add a hefty surcharge for use of their premises. Make sure you know up front exactly how much you will be charged for use of the facilities.
For those of you wanting to find out more, we've a whole host of other wedding ceremony articles on our site packed full of expert information and helpful advice, not to mention our online wedding directory that's filled with loads of civil wedding venues, decorations, florists and more.