Week 2: The reception venue

The venue – the place where beautiful memories are made, ‘I do’s’ announced, food consumed, drinks imbibed and many, many photographs are taken.  For the purpose of this post, ‘the venue’ really refers to the reception venue, and to put it frankly, the place where you’ll spend most of your money, because the reception is the best part of the wedding!

First of all, if you have big dreams for your wedding, I recommend you give yourself more time.  Don’t plan a destination wedding or anything too elaborate if you have only a few months, unless to plan to elope with only a few friends (clever you).


An example of elaborate

We initially decided we wanted around 50 guests and were happy to get married locally.  We wanted a hall or similar venue we could hire, with plans to supply our own catering and alcohol so we could save some money without paying per head price.  We were lucky to find Currumbin Farm School which has a beautiful wedding garden and a dining hall with a bar area, fridges, tables and chairs we could use for a reasonable price.  The venue hire included an event manager for the day and waiters and bar staff who also helped with setting up.

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Reception in the shed!

 Our venue had lots of advantages – the ceremony and reception were in the same place, there was no limit on how many people we could invite (our guest list blew out to 90 on the day), we saved money on alcohol by buying kegs, wine and spirits and had a catered buffet so there was plenty of food.  However, this meant that it was a lot of work – organising catering, drinks, glassware, the band, decorations, lighting, additional outdoor seating and transport for guests from the venue late at night.  It was in the valley in a rural setting and out of range for a taxi service, with no mobile phone coverage.  Fortunately this didn’t deter anyone from showing up and celebrating with us.


No internet or phone service at this wedding #sorry

However I think it’s important to consider your guests when hiring your venue, and consider what they are willing to tolerate in order to be a part of your wedding.  Will they be happy to stand in the sand at your beach wedding, pitch a tent in the mud at your rustic winter wedding or spend a fortune on transport and accommodation at your bring a plate and BYO alcohol budget wedding?


Leave your heels at home ladies

If you are planning a wedding in a short space of time, your guests will have likely already made an effort to make last minute plans to attend, so be kind to them on the day and consider how they will spending the day with you and accommodate to get them home safely as well.

Around the time of booking your venue make sure to book your accommodation in the days before your wedding and for your wedding night too.

High Five Business people

Stock photo high five!

 Once you have a venue and date locked in, give yourselves a high five!  You now have a time and a place for your wedding day.  Next week – planning the guest list and your bridal party…!


Week 1: Have you set a date?

I remember when we first announced our engagement to our family after a couple of weeks of being unable to keep it secret any longer.  We were met with hugs and congratulations, lots of questions about the proposal, the ring, the reaction etc.

After the excitement bubbled down, the next question everyone seemed to ask was ‘So, have you set a date?’  ‘When’s the big day?’ ‘Are you getting married soon?’


How about a random Thursday?

I was really surprised we got pestered about the wedding date literally days after getting engaged – especially when most of our friends were engaged for a year or more before getting married.  After getting asked a few too many times, we decided the best way to give everyone an answer was to just get on with it and set a date!  We started looking for a venue that weekend.

Setting the date depends a lot on where you want to get married and the availability of your venue.  We also considered work schedules of family and friends and potential time needed to travel from interstate or overseas.

Take the time to talk about what is important to you for your wedding – for us it was good food, good drinks and a live band.  I’d suggest making a list of everything you want then selecting two or three things to really focus your energy and budget on, especially if your time is limited!  For example:

1. Live band

2. Food and drinks

3. Over 50 guests

4. Venue setting

5. Venue timing (Saturday night vs weekday)

6. Photography

7. Flowers

8. Wedding gown, hair and make up

9. Ceremony and celebrant

10. Bridal party size

11. Transport and accommodation

12. Table decorations/ bonbonierres/ photo booth

13. Wedding cake

14. Honeymoon

Think about what you value as a couple and what your friends and family will remember and enjoy.  Consider what you would willingly sacrifice in order to be able to focus on your priorities for the wedding.

open bar

from someecards

Once you have a good idea of what type of wedding you want, talk to your partner about a budget before you spend anything.  Keep in mind that you will likely go over your budget and plan to have an extra 10-20% of your total budget available to use as well.

We spent about $17 000 on our wedding with just over 90 guests.  This total included our wedding rings, my wedding dress, my husband’s suit, bridal party dresses and suits, hair and make up, transport, accommodation, photographers and ceremony and reception expenses.  Our reception (venue hire, catering, glassware, lighting, extra seating, alcohol and band) cost around $10 000 – about 60% of our total budget.  Our original budget was $14 000 so we went over budget by about 20%.  Expenses I didn’t include were our cake (which was home made as a wedding present), champagne and wine (which my parents purchased), hen’s and buck’s nights (which our friends mostly contributed toward), invitations (which we printed at home) and thank you cards (about $150 to purchase and post).

If you can afford to do it – without offending your family – I would recommend paying for your own wedding.  This will give you the flexibility to spend your money how you wish without feeling indebted to your parents.  This is a tricky topic as parents often want to help out and it can be difficult to negotiate money and responsibility whilst making them still feel loved and appreciated.  I suggest asking your family what they would like to help with on the day and who they would like to invite.  Keep them updated with the planning process so they don’t feel left out, but keep any disagreements and details about finances between you and your partner.

With a date in mind, a few priorities and budget set, you should now be ready to find yourselves a venue!