It’s surprising how often I see a wedding or styled shoot in a venue that doesn’t quite ‘fit’. I know it sounds odd… but how many blank canvas venues have you seen? There aren’t that many around. Luckily this means most venues have tons of style and character which you can use to make your wedding truly unique and personal.
I love most English wedding venues. I’ve visited some amazing venues and seen their gorgeous features – from stately homes to country pubs, they all have their own unique charm. I love urban spaces, alternative venues and even woodland settings. The only venues I’m not so keen on would be corporate, faceless hotel chains… but thankfully they’re fading in popularity and we’re learning to appreciate glorious old buildings and creative spaces again.
Your venue will make the biggest contribution to the overall style of your wedding. It’s easy to underestimate how much of an impact the grandeur or quirkiness of a building can have on the look of your day. And if you’re styling your wedding to a theme, you’ll need to make sure your venue fits.
Think about it: no amount of hay bales could turn Sharrow Bay into a rustic wedding venue. Filling a converted barn with candelabra and martini glasses won’t make it right for a Great Gatsby styled celebration. These are the most obvious examples I can give of how mismatching a venue to your style could go wrong… but consider the subtle nuances of your venue and the inspiring effect they might have on your day if you get the styling right!
How to find the perfect venue for your wedding style
First think about the kind of couple you are. How do you live your day-to-day lives? If you’re a little bit boho, think about woodland spaces, festival style teepees and tents or alternative venues.
For vintage-loving couples, try researching old cinemas and theatres, or restored stately homes which have taken care to maintain their period features.
If you’re a modern couple look for a restaurant full of character, a refurbished mansion or hire a Sperry tent. Hotels might work for you too – but take time to look around, and find a space which will work with your theme.
Country lovers have so much choice – so many venues are nestled into village locations just off the beaten track. Look at the styling inside: will your dress and accessories fit with the look and feel of the venue?
The most traditional of English wedding venues is a stately home on the outskirts of town. You may have driven past your ‘dream venue’ since you were a little girl – but investigate the interior before you put down your deposit. Times, wedding coordinators and furnishings change. Is that venue you have your heart set on really ‘you’?
By the way – if your wedding is more about the party than the theme and styling, then do ignore all of this… you just need the catering to be perfect!
Venues can be anything from corporate to renaissance in style, and this often depends on the owners. Chains will try to please conference clients as much as wedding clients, and where this means a bland, faceless location you should walk away fast if your theme and styling are important. Wheeling an old bicycle into reception and propping it against a pile of crates won’t transform an unfriendly space into a vintage heaven!
Some things to watch out for: carpets and curtains
I have a thing about carpets. I’d love all wedding venues to have real wood floors, polished to a shine and full of character. When you’re on your venue visit take time to really look at the carpets – they’re often red, or patterned, and could clash with your chair decorations or flowers.
Curtains become a major backdrop to your wedding reception – and if your top table is near a window, consider the colour of the curtains. They’ll be in every photo. Can you use them to inspire your theme or work along with it? Or will the burgundy velour overwhelm your pastel theme?
Furnishings are a major consideration. Personally if a venue I loved didn’t have nice chairs, I’d go elsewhere. Chair covers are the wedding equivalent of pre-19th century condoms. Fact. Nice chairs for your wedding breakfast are far more noticeable when your guests come into the room than your place settings or bunting will be!
Colours and character as inspiration from your venue
The trick is to find a venue you fall in love with, and work with it to style your day. Look closely at the colours in there, at the wallpaper and features of the place. Remember how Nathan was so inspired by Bridwell’s fabulous staircase and period wallpaper he designed a range of wedding invitations after it?
Every venue has its own character and colours, and yours can be the key to inspiring your whole wedding theme. There could be a study or library room with floor to ceiling books; or a sculpture garden, or antlers on the walls… and any one of these could inspire the most amazing wedding theme to work with everything from your vintage inspired gown to the antlers on your tables and feathers in your bouquet.
Image credits: Camilla Rosa Photography at Elmore Court for the summer solstice wedding of Rachel and Alex.
Dress – http://www.charliebrear.com/bridal
Bride’s Shoes – http://www.jimmychoo.com/
Grooms Suit – http://www.cadandthedandy.co.uk/
Grooms Accessories – http://www.sharpanddapper.com/
Photographer – http://www.camillarosa.co.uk/
Venue – http://www.elmorecourt.com/
Florist – http://rubyandthewolf.com/
Cake – http://www.curtisandcocakes.co.uk/