Choosing your wedding venue will probably be the first thing you do in the process of planning your big day. It might even dictate the date of your wedding, since if you really love a specific place, you’ll have to make sure the date you want is available. It can be a bit daunting when selecting your venue, although for us it was very quick and simple- we found the place we wanted right away. It seems like so many things in our wedding worked out as if destiny (more on that in subsequent posts). But, to help you in the search for the perfect wedding venue, I’m sharing a few tips and things to keep in mind when making the decision.
Know your guest count:
You don’t have to have the specific number, but have a rough estimate of how big the wedding will be. Will it be 20-30 people, or 80-100? This makes a massive difference when looking for wedding venues as there is always a headcount limit at each spot. If you love a place so much you’re willing to reduce the amount of guests you’ll have – great! But it’s always best to go in knowing what you need and what the place offers. It would not be so much fun to find out once you’ve booked the venue, that you can only have 30 people seated, when your guest list was 80…
Have a theme/feel in mind:
You don’t have to do this, but I highly suggest having a few themes you like in your head when you’re looking for venues, just so that you can start imagining what the place will look like with what you want. Don’t be 100% set on one style while still looking for venues just in case if you like a specific spot in particular, but think that a different theme would look better there. Stay open 🙂 If the venue that you’ve chosen has a lot of character and decor of its own- have a think if you want to incorporate that into your celebration or if you want change things up a bit. If your venue is a blank slate- you’ve got a lot to play with and plan ahead.
Agree on a budget:
Planning a wedding can always be a bit scary, when you think about the money that you will have to spend. But to ensure that both you and your spouse-to-be are happy and don’t have regrets later in life, make sure you both have a chat about what you want the wedding to be like & how much money you’re willing to spend. You can make incredibly beautiful weddings that are cheap to organise- have it at your house, do a BBQ or simply go out to a restaurant with your family. As long as you’re open to ideas of having a different wedding, anything is possible!
So…. when choosing your location, a budget will be a crucial part. You should know how much you can spend on hiring out the location. Also, keep in mind that if they cater for food and drinks there already, it will most likely be cheaper than bringing in separate catering and organising that by yourself.
Think outside the box:
I kind of hinted at this in my previous point, but you don’t always have to go the conventional way of having a sit-down dinner, a host, music and fireworks. Think about what you want your wedding to be like and where you want it to be set. You might want it to be in a museum, in a restaurant, at your own house, by the beach, at a barn, an outdoor summer igloo or maybe even at a park! When looking at venues, try and go out of your comfort zone for a few of the options… you might end up liking something you never thought you would. Or, it will just highlight exactly what you liked in the first place and make your decision easier to make.
There is no better way to find places to hold your celebration than to ask around. Ask your friends, your family, read bridal magazines and online forums…. there is also most likely a facebook group where you live, where you can get tons of questions answered and inspiration for your wedding. When we originally looked at places to hold our reception, we asked my parents as we were having the wedding in our hometown. We haven’t lived there for over 7 years so getting my parent’s input on places they suggest was very helpful (*spoiler alert*- we chose the first place they suggested)!
I also read tons of messages on facebook groups, checked out instagram accounts of wedding planners in Vilnius to see what places they had organised weddings at and flipped through tons of wedding magazines when I was at the very beginning of planning our wedding and figuring out what I want for the venue.
Think about the details:
Once you’ve narrowed down a few places that feel right to you and your fiance, make sure to think about the details of the venue. Do they cater? Do they offer service along with location rental? Is it an easy place for you to get to and for the guests to come? Is it easy access for disabled guests (if applicable)? Is there an outside in case someone needs some fresh air? Is there a place you can freshen up after the ceremony and have a 5-10 minute breather with your loved one?
I highly recommend visiting the place you want to book a few times, just so that you can check out all the details before making a reservation. After you see the venue, you may fall in love with it but not have thought about some important details. Going a second, or even a third time to check it out will only benefit you in making the right decision & helping you plan the big day!
Our Wedding Venue
As for our wedding venue, we knew the church we were going to get married at right away. Although I did like another church a lot, St. Francis of Assisi (Bernardine) Roman Catholic Church (Bernardinų Bažnyčia) is the church that is closest to both of our homes. It is also very sentimental, as a lot of Jonas’ family got married in that church and Jonas’ nieces were baptised there too. Knowing it’s meaning to Jonas, I was happy to have a look at it and fell in love when I saw the Three King’s Chapel (Trijų Karalių Koplyčia) again after many years. It has such a romantic and cosy aura to it, we loved how intimate and private the chapel was. We were also lucky as when we spoke with the priest and asked about date availabilities this summer, we were sure we wouldn’t get a weekend, but the 3rd of August at 15:30 was free… and we reserved the spot right there and then.
Once we got our chapel reservation, the same day we visited 4 restaurants in Old town Vilnius, to see where we could have a cocktail reception following the ceremony. We visited The Shakespeare’s Hotel, Spritz Garden, Vilnia Hotel and Pacai Hotel. We first went to the Shakespeare Hotel and just after walking in, both of us had our mouths wide open and fell in love with the place. We thought we still had to see the other places, as picking the first one would just be silly, but having seen them all, we still ended up picking The gorgeous Shakespeare Hotel. The old-English vibe and bookcase in the restaurant of the Hotel in particular were the deciding factors in the restaurant and the theme we chose. Jonas is an absolute book warm and has always said when we have a home of our own, he wants a library where bookshelves go from top to bottom of the wall and circle the entire room. So when we saw it in Vilnius, we knew right away we had to choose this place.
When we asked about their availability on the 3rd we were quite worried, as they said that pretty much their entire summer is booked up. But…. they had that day free! If this wasn’t a sign, I don’t know what is! We also loved that they catered for everything- music, drinks, food and even dessert. In the end we decided to get desserts from the same place we got our cake. As our guest list ended up being 70-80 people, the green room, balcony and orange room were the perfect size together for our guests. We used the green room as the main reception area and the orange room as the dessert room and a spot where grandparents could sit down and rest for a bit if they needed a little bit of time.
The hotel staff were extremely helpful with everything on the day and made us feel incredible. We even booked a room to stay there that night as we wanted to enjoy the beautiful surroundings for as long as possible.
I’ve added some photos above for you to have a look at what the chapel and the restaurant look like. The chapel photo is from our actual wedding day and the restaurant images are ones the hotel sent to us when we were discussing decorations etc. Both the chapel in the church and the restaurant in the hotel had very prominent decor already. The chapel had a green and gold decorated alter and these colours were also present in the restaurant. This tied things in nicely and actually didn’t ask for too much additional decor.
However, we still had some decorations at our wedding and I’ll talk all about the theme of our wedding decorations and how to choose your wedding theme in the next post of this series.
Good luck with picking the perfect venue!