EXPERT ADVICE

FAQs and expert advice about venues

Here is a selection of Q&As from An Essex Wedding magazine whether it be about flowers, hair and makeup, fashion, wedding themes, health & beauty, cakes, stationery, legal advice. If you would like your question answered by our experts, please email it to editor@anessex.wedding

Our Day, Our Way

Our Day, Our Way

Q A few of my friends have got married recently, and I'm worried my wedding isn't going to stand out. How can I add something special to my big day?
A Fiona Pardoe says: Each and every wedding at Houchins is original and we love our couples to add their own personal touches to make their day stand out and have a special meaning for them. Laura and Ollie had friends and family make individual origami butterflies which were then hung from the grids in the Grainstore which decorated the dining barn beautifully, subtly incorporating their guests in the day.

Another bride had her and her partner's initials embroidered into her veil and also onto banners which hung in the Grainstore - personalising the whole look of the day. You could even have individual cakes made with your initials to serve as dessert for each guest. Or why not entertain your guests in style? One of our couples asked us to install card tables up on the mezzanine to give a casino vibe! Just talk your ideas through with your venue and see what they can accommodate!

Fiona Pardoe, Houchins Barn

Take A Seat

Take A Seat

Q I have to adorn my chairs at the venue as they are plain and wooden. I want them to look chic and boho - nothing too fussy. What can you suggest?
A Amanda Ferris says: Adding a subtle drape to plain wooden chairs will give a stunning look to match in with the floral decorations. Most weddings have a white theme running through the décor, so adding a white drape with a simple green eucalyptus sprig, adds an elegant overall look. Your own personal colours can be added with the hint of the green sprig running through the theme. I love sage green which has been a popular colour and will continue going into 2024.

Chair décor is as important as adding the flowers or centrepieces to the wedding's overall look. Hiring chairs of a different style such as the cross backs instead of chivaris chairs can give more interest. Or how about wicker thrones for the bride and groom to stand out at the wedding breakfast? These little extras mean you can add your own personality into your chic, boho theme.

Amanda Ferris, Bowtastic Chair Covers and Drapes

Three Is The Magic Number

Three Is The Magic Number

Q What are the three most important questions to ask when booking your wedding venue?
A The Wedding Team says: The team at Wivenhoe House (WH) aways recommend asking the following: Do you do more than one wedding on the same day? One wedding per day means all of our attention is on you and you're not battling with any other wedding party. Secondly: Are you dog friendly? More and more people are wanting their fur family members as part of their special day, and we are more than happy to oblige at WH!

Finally: Do you do bespoke weddings? We say, your wedding, your way. Here, from your very first enquiry you are given an allocated wedding coordinator who will be able to work with you to create the day of your dreams.

The Wedding Team, Wivenhoe House

The Great Outdoors

The Great Outdoors

Q My fiancé and I have just started looking for our dream wedding venue, and we'd like to get married outside. What should we keep in mind before booking?
A Angie Roberts says: There are lots of things to consider when looking for an outside venue, but most importantly, you have to choose somewhere that fits with your theme and simply takes your breath away. For example, do you want something in the woodland, by the waterside, in a garden, or perhaps a more historic backdrop? There are so many different options, so do your research well. Also, if it's easy for your guests to walk to, especially those with mobility issues, and does the venue offer any assistance (at That Amazing Place we have a golf buggy to transport elderly guests!)? Not forgetting the walk for the bride, of course! Remember to ask the wedding co-ordinator where you walk from and what route you take to get to the ceremony area. Another really important part of an outdoor ceremony is the sound. Ask the venue if they provide a mic and speakers for the registrar, so that your guests can hear the registrar/celebrant and enjoy the ceremony. Finally, make sure you also look at the indoor option for the venue. As much as you may dream of an outdoor ceremony, UK weather is unpredictable, so you have to make sure you're 100 per cent with the indoor ceremony room too!

Angie Roberts, That Amazing Place

Fur babies welcome

Fur babies welcome

Q I'd love to bring my fur baby, a golden cockapoo, to our wedding but I just don't know how to broach the subject with the venues. Is this a common ask?
A Angie Roberts says: Don't be nervous, this is becoming a standard question at viewings lately, as more and more couples want their dogs to be involved in their weddings. At That Amazing Place we love dogs and are totally dog friendly. They can even stay overnight, so you won't have the worry of who will look after them whilst all your family and friends are celebrating with you.

Angie Roberts, That Amazing Place

Question time

Question time

Q What kind of questions should we ask wedding venues when being shown around?
A Nicola Denny says: The most obvious is to check capacity, making sure the rooms you want to use can hold all the guests you need them to. Ceremony licensing is another key question if you're looking for a legal ceremony on site. You should therefore check this is something a prospective venue can offer, as not all have a ceremony license. However, this doesn't mean you can't use the venue, but you may have to sign the legal documents on another occasion, or have a celebrant conduct a ceremony for you at the venue.

It's also worth asking if there are any additional costs, as some venues charge clean up or rubbish disposal fees. You don't want to be sweeping up or taking rubbish home after your wedding day! Finally, be sure to ask if there's a coordinator/manager on the day to make sure everything happens smoothly, as worrying about timings on your wedding day shouldn't be your concern.

Nicola Denny, St Osyth Priory

Something old - or something new?

Something old - or something new?

Q I've got my heart set on a wedding venue packed with history, while my wife-to-be wants something contemporary in style. How can we both get what we want?
A Melissa Dickinson says: We all have a vision of what the perfect celebration looks like, and striking the right balance between what you both like can be difficult when you have different tastes. The key is to find a venue that can cater to both of you – and is willing to be flexible and creative in their approach. At Wivenhoe House we work closely with all our couples throughout the process to ensure we strike a balance between vision, practicality and budget. Our 18th century, red brick manor house is steeped in history, and we have bedrooms with exposed beams and traditional décor. However, we also have our Garden Wing, offering contemporary and modern luxury bedrooms, many with balconies overlooking the gardens. The same goes for our venue spaces – we can utilise our historic spaces together with contemporary and modern touches to create something that would suit you both. It's all about being creative and working together to ensure you both get a day you will never forget.

Melissa Dickinson, Wivenhoe House Hotel

First Dates

First Dates

Q Our first wedding date got cancelled due to COVID-19, and we're now apprehensive about booking another venue. What do you suggest we ask in case of future complications?
A Charley Pickett says: The industry was hugely affected by the pandemic and venues had to reschedule many celebrations, so it's no surprise that most wedding venues will now have a policy in place should anything like this ever happen again. When looking for your dream venue, one of the questions I would recommend asking is what the venue's COVID policy is – for example, will you be able to move your date, should it be affected by government restrictions? Will there be any charges to move the date? Will you be offered a selection of new dates – or will the venue decide on a new date for you? Also be sure to check with your wedding insurance and other suppliers to find out what their policies are, too.

Charley Pickett, Fennes

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