Let’s talk wedding venues. Once engaged we quickly realised that booking the venue was top of the priority list. By Christmas, in fact. And so the venue hunt began and we were suddenly a couple obsessed with trawling the internet for “the one”. If there is something that you should know about me it is that I cannot make a decision. Coupled with the fact that when I am forced, in very rare circumstances, to actually make a decision, I will mull over said decision until I eventually change my mind again. You can imagine Joe’s dread over the thought of choosing the venue then.
The process was not exactly organised. I read of couples having a block of weeks booked up with a shortlist of carefully selected venues. Our way consisted of three months of random viewings across Kent with no real goal of actually booking something. We had no criteria set out – something I now realise should have been part of initial discussions. But I think even we didn’t know what we were looking for. The first venue we saw was St Augustines in Westgate on Sea. The chapel is deconsecrated and so a non-religious ceremony is permitted. As lovers of beautiful buildings but not religious in any way, St Augustines seemed like a strong choice on paper. I was surprised to find that as I stood at the end of the aisle looking toward Joe at the other end, a lump formed in my throat. The chapel was absolutely stunning but there was little flexibility to have only the ceremony there and the reception packages were both pricey and simply not us. We quickly realised a ballroom reception was the exact opposite of what we wanted.
Onwards we went.
From that point we investigated countless options, feeling an almost impossible need to beat each and every last venue we had seen. Options that we visited included The Great Barn at Rolvenden (barn, dry hire, countryside), the East Quay Venue at Whitstable (one of our favourite restaurants, beach location, quirky), The Gallivant at Rye (sandy beach – big pull, great food, boutique style), The Great Conservatory at Syon Park (EXPENSIVE). We briefly flirted with a wedding abroad and I spent a whole weekend researching lemon grove wedding packages in Italy. When we realised that most of our guests would be unable to come, that idea was shelved along with the idea of getting married at our engagement location in Grand Cayman. And with long journeys out of the question, I sadly cancelled the viewing we had arranged of Polhawn Fort in Cornwall.
Meanwhile, one of my bridesmaids who got engaged a few weeks after me had viewed a venue and then booked the very same venue on the spot without even a flicker of doubt. I started to wonder whether I would ever have that “the one” feeling. And so one sunshiney December afternoon we drove the hour distance through gorgeous Kentish countryside for our second viewing of the Great Barn at Rolvenden. With Joe playing air guitar on the barn’s stage I realised that maybe the right venue had been under our noses all along. All our venues had been unique, but the Great Barn was the only dry hire venue we had managed to find. There was the lure of the freedom the venue allowed. We could get creative and put our ideas and dreams into reality without limitation and the restrictions that packages can entail. Although we still hadn’t any hard and fast criteria for a venue, we knew how we wanted our day to play out and it felt like many venues didn’t fit with how we saw our day going. Dry hire removed this issue.
We spent the entire journey home excitedly discussing food, signature cocktails and entertainment. I had images of huge chalkboard signs with our drinks and food menus, hay bales in the orchard, homemade decorations packing out the vast barn and all of our friends partying the night away in a fun and relaxed atmosphere. Within a few days we had emailed Joan at the Barn to confirm our date and pay the deposit – our venue was booked and all I could feel was relief. For me I felt that one of the hardest decisions had been made and a huge weight had been lifted. We had a date, a place and the wedding planning process could fully begin. I think Joe was just pleased we wouldn’t be spending any more weekends trekking to far- flung places across Kent!
So over to you, has anyone else found the venue hunt as hard as I did? It would be great to hear some of your own experiences of the finding “the one”.