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Wedding Ideas

7 Things Every Venue Must Have

Liselle is a Director of Gaynes Park, an award winning, privately owned English barn wedding venue. Surrounded by ancient woodland, farm and parkland, Gaynes Park is set magnificently on top of rolling hills overlooking the distant London skyline.

SOURCE: Belong Magazine

Liselle is Australian and has three children with her English husband, Guy, whose family has owned the Gaynes Park estate since the 1700s. She continues to be inspired very much by the environment of her Sydney childhood, light, space and the ocean. A collector of objects and plants that she finds on her travels, she lovingly finds a home for them at the beautiful venue and gardens at Gaynes Park, creating more gorgeous photo backdrops for their wedding couples. More than just a job, Liselle’s work is suffused with ‘meraki’, whereby she leaves a little of her essence and love in all that she creates, and in doing so she gives couples who choose Gaynes Park a beautiful place to marry that is imbued with beauty, style, harmony and peace.

While it is wonderful to have the perfect wedding day, the current slogan, “your day, your way,” leaves me feeling a little worried. You don’t want to start married life in unnecessary debt, adding financial burden and strain to your relationship. So, check what does and does not come with the venue as additional costs—including extra taxes as those can add up very quickly and blow a hole in the best planned budget. Assuming the venue falls within the set budget, the seven essential things a perfect wedding venue should have are as follows:

1. Setting

Whether the venue is an historic house, an urban venue, a town hall or rustic barn, you want the surroundings to be beautiful. The setting should be a striking backdrop for not only the wedding ceremony and celebrations, but also for photos—whether taken in rain or sun, by day or night.

An attractive entrance will always set the tone as guests arrive and a long wedding aisle gives ample opportunity to delight in the wonderful bridal walk. It also gives the photographer more than one chance to get the iconic bridal entrance shot. Before you pay your deposit, have a good look around. Make sure you stand in the venue space(s). Close your eyes for a few moments and observe if you intuitively like the feel of the space around you. Notice whether it feels calm and consider if you can imagine yourself making one of the most important and cherished memories of your life with your nearest and dearest alongside you in that space.

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Gaynes Park wedding venue in Essex is surrounded by stunning countryside and is perfect for wedding photos with your bridesmaids
© Kerrie Mitchell Photography

2. Exclusivity

For me, exclusivity is crucial. I like knowing that for the entire time the venue is booked, it is only available for the current day’s wedding couple to create their story for their dream day. I am strict about not wanting to have a crossover between weddings. After our venue has been thoroughly cleaned, I like there to be a window of time where all the spaces can be allowed to breathe—then they feel fresh, new and ready to welcome the new day and new couple to be married.

I hear from brides and guests the stories about venues which hold more than one wedding per day where guests wander into the wrong weddings. They end up in photos or having drinks at someone else’s wedding (and on their bar bill as well) without even realising as they might not know other guests. If the venue is not exclusive, ask whether others at the venue are allowed to wander through your booked wedding areas.

3. Flow

The flow of the day is so important because a wedding day can feel disjointed if the spaces don’t f low with the order of the day. When the spaces f low, the guests will easily move together to the various areas used during your wedding celebration. For example, in the evening, the wedding guests can be separated when a bar and dance area are in a different space or separate room. I have heard of weddings where the guys are at the bar in one room and the gals on the dance floor elsewhere or vice versa, but sadly they are not partying together! Plus, it is lovely for the older guests to be able to watch all the dancing and celebrations and enjoy chatting to each other while being close to all the activities.

If there are not separate areas and options for the various stages of the wedding day, you should know how transitions will function and f low. For example, sometimes the wedding ceremony, drink reception, sit down meal and the evening party all take place in one space—iron out the details with your venue so you have seamless change to turn the space around as the celebration evolves.

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The Mill Barn at this Essex wedding venue is set up for a beautiful autumn wedding reception
© Kerrie Mitchell Photography

4. Facilities

Clean, well maintained, natural and/or good ambient lighting and attractive facilities are a must. However, convenient and attractive washrooms for the less-abled and elderly guests are, for me, just as important. For the less-abled guests, the sheer effort of walking a few steps can be their energy quota for the day and they may have quite literally moved heaven and earth to just live to make it to your wedding so be sure and take their needs into account.

If you do have a less-abled parent, check how the aisle will function for parents in wheelchairs “walking” their daughters up the aisle. We have a long garden aisle at Gaynes Park and we have had some parents who have come out of their hospice to make sure they are there to share the very special day. Depending on how unwell they are, the parent will either be wheeled the entire aisle length or meet their daughter halfway up the aisle to walk the remaining steps together.

Also, don’t forget to see how generous the washrooms are and if they are big enough to fit the bride and her bridesmaids in one cubicle! Last, but not least, make sure there is ample car parking for your guests.

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The bride and her father walk down the wedding aisle in the walled gardens at Gaynes Park in Essex
© Kerrie Mitchell Photography

5. Flexibility

Have a good look around the venue buildings and gardens to make sure they look good undecorated without having to spend a chunk of the budget hiding features that you don’t like. Otherwise, make sure if you do want to hide or decorate the venue to a theme or style that the venue will give permission to do so. Most venue owners will understandably not permit nails, water or fire to prevent damaging the buildings, but good venues will let trusted suppliers use their magic tricks to create the look without the damage! The best venues will have a well-researched list of handpicked, recommended suppliers whom they respect for their work, reliability and their professionalism.

Another top tip is to make sure the venue is flexible, giving unrestricted access to the wedding garden or venue areas for all guests to enjoy. It is especially important not only to be able to take photos immediately after the wedding ceremony, but also to be able to go back and take photos later in the day to capture a beautiful sunset, moonlit and starry sky shots or for a second chance to take some photos when the rain stops.

6. Bridal Honeymoon Suite and Accommodation

On site or local accommodation in which the wedding party can prepare and get ready before the ceremony and for guests to stay in after the wedding is rapidly becoming a must for couples. It helps if the accommodation is spacious and stylishly decorated as more often than not the photographer and videographer will use it as the backdrop to their many getting ready images that are taken.

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Newlyweds explore the stunning Essex countryside that surrounds Gaynes Park wedding venue
© Justin Bailey Photography

7. Catering and Events/Venue Team

Make sure the venue has an excellent in-house caterer or a very good list of recommended caterers they regularly work with. The food should not only be outstanding, well presented and reliable, but the service from the staff must be helpful, friendly and approachable—providing assistance for any and all questions. It is essential to have a dedicated event manager or team who will work with you and become familiar with your requests and style and who can reassure you when you may feel overwhelmed.

A tasting event as part of your catering package is very helpful to give you a taste of the various food and drink options available. It will also give you a feel for the atmosphere of the venue when it has been decorated and is full of people.

A wedding celebration held in a stunning venue that ticks all the 7 must haves is truly wonderful. However, when it comes to the wedding day, my absolute favourite weddings are the ones where the couples let go of any stress about getting the details absolutely perfect and just relish and cherish every moment. Don’t worry if the colour match of the cake or flowers isn’t quite right, just enjoy the day. Soak up all the love that the day is centred around. For me, that is true love and every ceremony that I watch is a gift that never fails to move me and makes me want to watch wedding after wedding after wedding. The day goes by in a flash and then you’ll be wishing you could do it all over again.

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Wedding guests enjoy the evening wedding reception in the Mill Barn at Gaynes Park in Essex
© Justin Bailey Photography

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If you’ve been inspired to find your perfect venue, read Reasons to Choose Gaynes Park and see why this beautiful Essex wedding venue is the ideal place to tie the knot.

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