Picking your ideal wedding venue can be an exciting but daunting task, with a hundred and one things to consider. Here at Bickley Mill, we pride ourselves on a romantic setting and excellent service while remaining one of the most affordable wedding venues in Devon.
Having recently negotiated his own path through pound signs, in-laws and one or two outlaws, our blogger Dominic Garnett has some timely wedding planning tips and advice to set you off on the right foot.
Before any other considerations, do make sure you get a handle on a few basics. Your expectations are one thing, but two numbers have to be firmly in mind: a maximum budget and rough head count of guests. I would start with two lists, one for family and close friends who simply have to be there. Then start another with further guests who you’d love to be there but might not be so concrete (e.g. friends who live a long way away, workmates).
At many venues you can invite a close core of guests for the actual ceremony, but broaden this for the wedding reception, food and drinks. Even a rough head count will give you a reasonable idea; without this it is difficult to get a handle on costs. This can be critical too; if it is an intimate celebration for fewer people, you can splash out more per head on food and drink. If you are the kind of couple with countless friends, do be careful because costs can spiral and you might want to think about a cheaper way of feeding lots of people. For example, at Bickley Mill our barbeques are very popular, offering fantastic value and plenty to eat for wedding guests.
Take the Tour & Trust Your Instinct
Any wedding venue worth its salt will be only too happy to show you around and give you the grand tour. This is a vital part of the process, because you’ll discover not only the size and character of the place, but get a chance to meet the staff. A personal connection can be very important and, just as when couples go house hunting, gut instinct is important. So discuss it, but above all trust your feelings.
Ask those tricky questions…
Besides those key figures, do also have a list of questions ready when you go wedding venue hunting. Be bold and ask all the awkward things, because the alternative is often to find out the hard way, later in the process. The questions couples ask could be a very long list, so have yours ready. When does the bar close? Can we book our own entertainment such as a band or DJ? Does the venue cater for specific dietary requirements?
Negotiate and don’t get pushed around
One of the best wedding venue tips I can give you is to keep your powder dry and not jump in too quickly. It is your decision and if anyone tries to force you into making your mind up or won’t take no for an answer, this is a bad sign. I simply can’t stand being pressured or given the hard sell and I’m sure I’m not the only one.
Here at Bickley Mill, we prefer a more relaxed approach. Obviously we would love to host your wedding, but not by pointing a gun at you! You have every right to consider your options, sleep on it, discuss with your family and look around.
Budget Wedding or Big Splash?
Things are financially tough for many of us in the present, so it can pay to be savvy with your money. There are some sensationally grand castles and stately places to get hitched, but the sky is literally the limit and they can cost a king’s ransom. Nor might such a setting necessarily make for a relaxed celebration for your entourage.
Shop around and you’ll find affordable wedding venues in Devon that are still beautifully romantic. Furthermore, if your budget is limited you might find that many will offer special wedding deals outside peak season. Winter weddings can be beautifully arranged and refreshingly different (personally, I much prefer mulled wine to prosecco!). Similarly, if many of your friends and family live locally, a midweek wedding might offer a great event without the sort of budget needed to topple a government. For example, our own winter and midweek wedding packages offer some of the best value in Devon, including food for 50 guests for under £3000!
Beware Hidden Costs
As a final tip, do look into what is included in a venue’s typical wedding packages. Ours include the food and drinks for up to 50 plus use of our Miller’s Room, but not evening entertainment, for example. Trustworthy wedding venues will always be up front about costs and answer questions honestly.
The bigger extras that can sting you include a wedding photographer, flowers and decorations. The choice is yours here; you might want to splash out on something special, but then again, you might have friends who can help with things like flowers and a wedding cake. Inevitably, it is easier to overspend than underspend, so do be careful. In many ways, using creative friends and family to produce everything from invites to evening music can make the event even more special without stacking up the costs.
Bickley Mill: One of the most romantic yet affordable wedding venues in Devon
Are you looking for a dream wedding venue without nightmare costs? Bickley Mill has an idyllic rustic inn setting, delicious food and excellent service. We are perfectly suited for small to medium weddings (up to 150 guests). Why not come and see for yourself? We would be delighted to give you a relaxed tour and answer any questions you have. Find out more and explore our weddings brochure in our dedicated functions and weddings section, or contact our team on 01803 873201 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org