Finding the right Wedding Venue

Finding the right Wedding Venue

Unless your ceremony is taking place at home or in the back garden, you’re going to be looking to hire a venue. That’s something you should take seriously, as the atmosphere and facilities can make all the difference to (probably) the biggest day of your lives.

Starting the Search

You may be lucky, and either know from experience where you want the ceremony to take place or have recommendations from reliable acquaintances.

If not, decide on the area and also on your budget. Then go online and google in local wedding venues. The website will be a good starting point, because if the text and pictures fail to attract you, you’re on to a non-starter straight away! It’s so important that you feel the venue is right and is where you want to be married.

The Spadework

Make a list and arrange to visit the top three or so. Ensure you see the event planner, and be ready to ask questions.

You may want to know any of the following:

  • What availability do they have?
  • What exactly does the booking fee include?
  • Will the event planner be there on the day?
  • Can you bring in outside suppliers of your choice?
  • If outdoors, what arrangements are available if the weather is inclement?
  • Can you have the ceremony in one room and the reception in another?
  • Do they have tie-ins with registrars (ie will these come out to the venue)? [Not happening currently.]
  • Do they supply PA systems?
  • What cancellation processes do they have?
  • How and when do they expect to be paid?
  • What is the state of their Risk Assessment (bearing in mind current social distancing)?

The Decision

Provided that you love the venue and your questions have been answered satisfactorily, then go with it. If it is a little too expensive, you lose nothing by asking for a discount. It may well be cheaper, if you marry out of season, in the afternoon or on a weekday.

I always say, when choosing a celebrant or a venue, book the one you really want, even if it may mean allocating a little less money than you had planned to another service.

To discuss any of this, please contact Michael.

Progress on the Wedding Front?

Progress on the Wedding Front?

As a celebrant, my first reaction to the government’s irreversible “roadmap” last week was relief. At least, we could celebrate weddings with no restrictions from 21st June. After all, it usually takes a good few months to plan a wedding, so we could probably get started with the process now. All good.

However, although that has shown a ‘green light’ for a number of couples, the anticipated rush does not seem to have materialised. At least, not among my contacts. Why would this be?

Probably because couples feel they should err on the side of caution. There have been so many about-turns or tweaks over the last year. Why go through all the trouble of planning, when everything may yet come tumbling down, with all the attendant disappointment and frustration?

The UK Wedding taskforce have just written again to Paul Scully, Minister for Small Business. They point out that wedding receptions for any less than 50 are simply not commercially viable. (Obviously, that impacts on suppliers’ livelihoods.)

As for couples, the UK now benefits from world class testing and a second-to-none vaccine programme but unfathomably we are still constrained by the same restricted guest numbers (15 and 30) that were placed on the sector at the beginning of the pandemic.

Weddings are by definition highly planned and managed affairs, so it should be possible to feed into the Test and Trace system. Venues are licensed and will be more Covid-secure than comparable sectors.

I don’t know whether we can expect any more progress on the political front for now, but I’d be more than happy to have a chat to anyone seriously thinking about a personalised, celebrant-led ceremony. Even if it’s  before 21st June!

How to select a Celebrant

How to select a Celebrant

When you choose a celebrant, you know you’re going to be paying anything from a few hundred pounds to a four-figure sum. Whether you ultimately receive the value of that expenditure, or not, it’s still a significant amount of money to spend.

It therefore pays to do some homework before you commit.

Of course, you may know somebody who has seen the celebrant in action (or you have yourself). In that case, you have a good idea what to expect, if you engage them. However, that doesn’t tend to be the rule.

More commonly, people will have to choose from a blank page. More precisely, from a website and reviews. These may well give you a feel for your supplier. Then you look at a competitor’s page, and that seems very attractive too!

So my advice is to meet a couple, so you can compare like-for-like. (In these days of social distancing, you “meet”, of course, via Zoom, Skype or phone).

Not the first question

People assume that the price is the deciding factor, and, therefore, it’s the first question to be asked.

Of course, you are likely to be budget-dependent. But don’t forget that you may also be able to juggle your outlay so that you save somewhere else the extra you may spend to secure the celebrant you want.

Remember that you will be working with a celebrant over months, probably. You’ll be discussing intimate feelings with them. You’ll need to like and trust them. You’ll need to be sure they’ll do what you – not what they – want.

They’ll need to be able to write well and to present beautifully.

Does talking with them leave you feeling excited? Do you actually want to be married by that person?

It’s worth paying a little extra, if you’re assured of getting the right choice.

The real first question

So your priority is the celebrant’s availability.

Almost as important is whether your celebrant responds to your vision for the day with flexibility or with arrogance. Can they deliver what you want?

Then reassure yourself that they are experienced and have proven success in their field.

Do you sense that they are just doing a job, or will they go the extra mile?

The answers to these questions should indicate to you who to go with.

Boring bits

Make sure you read their Terms & Conditions before you commit. Not that they are likely to be shafting you! However, you may assume something is included that turns out to cost extra. You want to avoid misunderstandings. What happens if you have to cancel or postpone?

I believe that you can feel confident if the celebrant belongs to  a relevant association. There are minimum standards to be observed. So I am a member of the Association of Civil Celebrants (AOIC) and the UK Alliance of Wedding Planners (UKAWP).

A celebrant is no different from any other supplier. You’re paying for a particular service. You want to be sure that you are getting value for your outlay. You deserve to know that satisfaction – if not delight – is virtually guaranteed.

Michael has been conducting ceremonies since early 2013, and would love to discuss this further with you. Just give him a call.

How to select a Celebrant

How to select a Celebrant

When you choose a celebrant, you know you’re going to be paying anything from a few hundred pounds to a four-figure sum. Whether you ultimately receive the value of that expenditure, or not, it’s still a significant amount of money to spend.

It therefore pays to do some homework before you commit.

Of course, you may know somebody who has seen the celebrant in action (or you have yourself). In that case, you have a good idea what to expect, if you engage them. However, that doesn’t tend to be the rule.

More commonly, people will have to choose from a blank page. More precisely, from a website and reviews. These may well give you a feel for your supplier. Then you look at a competitor’s page, and that seems very attractive too!

So my advice is to meet a couple so you can compare like-for-like. (In these days of social distancing, you “meet”, of course, via Zoom, Skype or phone).

The last thing you want

People assume that the price is the deciding factor, and, therefore, it’s the first question to be asked.

I accept that you are likely to be budget-dependent. But don’t forget that you may also be able to juggle your outlay so that you save somewhere else the extra you may spend to secure the celebrant you want.

Remember that you will be working with a celebrant over months, probably. You’ll be discussing intimate feelings with them. You’ll need to like and trust them. You’ll need to be sure they’ll do what you – not what they – want.

They’ll need to be able to write well and to present beautifully.

Does talking with them leave you feeling excited? Do you actually want to be married by that person?

It’s worth paying a little extra, if you’re assured of getting the right person.

The real first question

So your priority is the celebrant’s availability.

Almost as important is whether your celebrant responds to your vision for the day with flexibility or with arrogance. Can they deliver what you want?

Then reassure yourself that they are experienced and have proven success in their field.

Do you sense that they are just doing a job, or will they go the extra mile?

The answers to these questions should indicate to you who to go with.

Boring bits

Make sure you read their Terms & Conditions before you commit. Not that they are likely to be shafting you! However, you may assume something is included that turns out to cost extra. You want to avoid misunderstandings.

I believe that you can feel confident if the celebrant belongs to  a relevant association. There are minimum standards to be observed. So I am a member of the Association of Civil Celebrants (AOIC) and the UK Alliance of Wedding Planners (UKAWP).

A celebrant is no different from any other supplier. They’re supplying a particular professional service. You want to be sure that you are getting value for your outlay. You deserve to know that satisfaction – if not delight – is virtually guaranteed.

Michael has been conducting ceremonies since late 2012, and would love to discuss this further with you. Just give him a call.

Progress on the Wedding Front?

New Year Prospects

For most of us 2020 was a dismal year. A few people prospered, and good luck to them. Most of us suffered. Very often, it was health or financial issues. Or both.

More relevant to me, as a celebrant, brides and grooms (and suppliers!) had to put up with plans continually being changed or deferred. The worst thing for many people was simply not knowing. What would the next directive say? What asumptions could anybody make? Why book, when plans could be thrown into chaos the next day?

Of course, some people either gave up altogether or modified their plans drastically.

I lost two weddings to cancellations. In one case, it would have been in a fabulous Lisbon venue. That was postponed, but the venue had to change. It became the superb Palacio de Queluz, Sintra (google that, and just see what it looks like!)

Then the bride and groom found their businesses were struggling. No other choice, but to cancel the wedding. (They may still get married – at a register office, but that’s not quite the same …)

I belong to several Facebook groups where most brides are currently in distress and crying out for guidance.

As I write, there is much talk of another national lockdown – maybe, till after Easter. So do couples move the wedding till the summer, say? Can they book a decent venue at such short notice? Should they assume that they can’t invite more than 15? What sort of COVID precautions should be taken?

I have no more of a crystal ball than anyone else. But my advice is not to delay. At least, go and get married at the Register Office. Then wait.

Wait till we’re out of this and can make sensible decisions. Then organise a wedding service at a venue of your choosing. Book your civil celebrant, photographer and caterer. Even though you will already be legally married – enjoy the whole day with your friends and family as if it were the big day itself.

Then everyone can enjoy and relish the atmosphere of such a special occasion.

Give me a call, and we can start making plans!