This month we look at how to choose the perfect wedding venue.

Choosing your wedding venue will be one of the biggest decisions you will make (beyond the dress, that is), and with so many different options to consider and look at, you need to allocate a lot of your planning time and budget to find your dream location.

Start by estimating your guest list, and any special accommodations your guests might need, for example accessibility for anyone with disabilities. Having a rough idea of your wedding party, and whether you will have everyone to the wedding breakfast or whether some guests will come to an evening reception only, will allow you to narrow down your venue choices.

If you want all of your friends and family to see you get married for example, then you need to start looking at country house wedding venues with large capacities, such as the magnificently grand Crathorne Hall Hotel in Yarm just on the edge of the Yorkshire Moors, or a stately home like Fawsley Hall Hotel in Northamptonshire with its sumptuous Tudor house.

Alternatively you may prefer your special day to be more intimate and low-key. In which case, the romantic setting of Seiont Manor Hotel in Snowdonia, Wales, would be a great venue for you and your loved ones. If exclusivity is important then you can opt for the sole use of our venues such as Buxted Park Hotel in East Sussex – and have your very own private mansion for the day. 

Location, Location, location. Next you will need to decide whether you are getting married in your hometown or having a destination wedding – bear in mind how far away it will be for guests to travel. 

Consider the time of year you want to tie the knot. It’s worth noting the bride's dress, the wedding food and the whole ambience of the get-together can also change according to the season. Also, certain venues lend themselves to different times of year better than others, so for instance some of our venues – such as Audleys Wood Hotel, near Basingstoke, Hampshire, allow the use of marquees, perfect for the warmer months. 

If you want a summer wedding then bear in mind costings and availability. More people want to get married in the summer, and as a result popular venues tend to be booked in advance and suppliers such as wedding photographers, florists and chauffeur hire are more likely to be busy. Remember if you are planning an outdoor ceremony or reception, you’ll need a backup plan if it rains. All of our venues at Hand Picked Hotels have fantastic rooms to accommodate you and your guests in the event of bad weather.

If you are on a tight budget then a winter wedding is a good option. And if you get married on a less popular day of the week, such as a Monday you are also likely to get the venue you want at a reduced rate. 

Check on requirements for religious ceremonies. At Hand Picked Hotels many of our rooms are licensed for civil ceremonies and partnerships, as well as humanist and religious ceremonies. 

Consider the style of your wedding. Some of this year’s hottest themes were birds & butterflies, country garden, rustic, seaside and vintage. A theme can be dictated by a colour though, an era or even centred on the venue’s own style. The historic New Hall Hotel in Sutton Coldfield, Birmingham would be a good example of that, being England’s oldest listed inhabited moated house. Once you have decided on your wedding style and feel, be realistic. A barn might sound enchanting, but it’s probably not very practical, nor is it easy to style. A tranquil country wedding venue such as West Yorkshire’s Wood Hall Hotel & Spa with its roaring log fires may be more suitable.

Visit your potential venue more than once before you make the final decision. Consider whether they fulfil all your logistical and stylistic requirements. If you’re planning on staying at your venue the night before for example, consider whether it has a spa for a spot of pre-wedding pampering. Hand Picked Hotels feature 10 locations with spa facilities offering treatments from a range of top product houses, including the resplendent country mansion that is Rhinefield House Hotel in Brockenhurst, Hampshire.

Visit the venue around the time of day you want to marry as well, to see if the lighting and aesthetic of the space is the same. As well as having the wow factor, it has to feel like the right venue for you and your partner. 

And finally, is your venue full service or not? Every one of our venues has their own dedicated wedding co-ordinators to assist you with your planning so you don’t have to worry about working with lots of suppliers. We offer full in-house catering as well – with the opportunity to do food tasting prior to finalising your menu selection.

With a collection of beautiful heritage country houses, Hand Picked Hotels will be able to find you a venue and package to suit your style and budget, and deliver your dream day.

Images: Photo 1 - Ettington Park Hotel, Stratford-upon-Avon, photo 2 - Fawsley Hall Hotel & Spa, Northamptonshire, photo 3 - Audleys Wood Hotel, Basingstoke, photo 4 - Rhinefield House Hotel, The New Forest, Hampshire, photo 5 - Hendon Hall Hotel, North London, photo 6 - Wood Hall Hotel & Spa, Yorkshire, photo 7 - Nutfield Priory Hotel & Spa, Surrey