What to consider when choosing a wedding venue

With three wedding celebrations there were several things I had to consider not once but three times.

Wedding One - A small affair at my family home... 90 guests. This entailed bringing everything in, Marquee, outdoor heating, electricity, catering, chairs, glassware, linen... on top of everything else that typically goes with a wedding.

Wedding Two - Having worked in events and visited a number of venues I knew that finding a space that already had the wow factor was want I needed. By choosing a place that was already set up the way I envisioned it meant that I could work with their team and concentrate on the finer details.

Wedding Three - The finale had to be an international wedding as I don't like to make things easy for myself. The extra thing we had to consider here was ease of transport, accommodation.

Here are some questions to keep in mind when choosing your wedding venue  

1.     What date is the venue available?

With our proposal Anaël also stated that we would get married at his home on the bank holiday weekend in August. Fortunately as this is not a holiday in France and as the son of the owner we were able to have his dream date but we still had to act fast, every other weekend that summer was already booked up. When choosing your wedding venue keep this in mind and try to be a little flexible where you can. With our London wedding we held it in April on a Sunday, which worked out perfectly for us, as we wanted a unique, beautiful indoor space for an evening celebration so if it rained it wasn’t a concern.

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2.    Can I hold my ceremony here, too?

If you are looking to marry in France you will find that there is a lot of protocol, especially for those who do not have ties to the country. The ceremony must take place at the mairie (Town hall) before the religious ceremony and then you will have the celebration elsewhere.  (Part of the reason we had 3 weddings) For more information please follow this link for more details.

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3.     Is the size appropriate for your guest list?

West African families come big and it appears I managed to find an equally huge French family. With everyone having 4 siblings plus we knew capacity could be an issue.  We were blessed to have found Oriole a month after it opened and so held our Ghanaian wedding celebration there, and they had a capacity of 180 guests, amazing in central London.

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With  la-gentilhommiere the beauty of the hotel is its surprising scale. The weekend prior to ours there was a very chic wedding party of 60 in La Verrière. We were able to have 300 guests for the cocktail reception and 200 for the sit down meal. There is also space to have a marquee extension on the veranda off the restaurant but I wasn’t intending on feeding the 5,000. 

4.    Is access to the venue easy? And is there sufficient parking?

Oriole couldn’t be better located in Farringdon with 24 hour train links taking you across the city and outskirts, so no excuse for those wanting to catch the last train home. I loved the location so much that I didn’t actually write it on the invitation leaving it to a week before to elaborate on the secret postcode.

So with the relative ease of a London location, France became my main concern not fully understanding the countryside, but with everything I was fretting for no reason. The venue is in what seems to be the middle of nowhere however it is a direct route from Lyon airport or Geneva for international guests. Hiring a car is easy or if you want to provide a coach service this can be arranged. The hotel has ample parking space for both coaches and cars. 

5.    Is there in-house catering?

Everything was prepared in house. This is the fantastic thing about the hotel as it originally started as a restaurant and food is very important to them. We were able to combine all the food we love and they also surprised me by including some Ghanaian canapés. My favourite was the dessert buffet which had the most amazing French desserts all made by the hotel. The next day we invited the guest who had travelled to France over for a paella lunch and debrief of the previous night.

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The food at Oriole is exceptional and one of the reasons we chose the venue. Awarded the prestigious accolade as “best international bar in the world” you can rest assured that the food and drinks are second to none. It was great to work with the team on the menu and we loved how their creativity has no bounds. They even created a signature cocktail for us incorporating ingredients indigenous to Ghana, this was all created for us without us even asking, making the whole process really exciting and special.

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6.    Are tables, linens, chairs, plates, silverware and glassware provided, or will I have to rent them myself?

Again with Oriole this was a major deciding factor on hosting our wedding here. Having been to the venue and their sister venue a few times prior I new they pride themselves on the presentation of their food and cocktails. Everything is meticulously thought through which meant that I knew we wouldn’t need to have additional hidden costs. They even suggested special plates that would work with the feeling of our wedding.

La-gentilhommiere provides all of this as well and now with our wedding they have refreshed the wooden chairs with a touch of grey paint giving an alternative look to the hire chairs we typically see at weddings.

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7.    How long will I have use of the event space?

This is a very important question especially when coming from the UK when lights start to go on at 1130pm (when the French start to serve the cheese). As our hotel has no surrounding neighbours and a dedicated bar space away from the rooms the end of the party can certainly be up for discussion.

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The same was true for Oriole who has a late license till 2pm.

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8.     Is there an outdoor space? What are the weather contingency plan for outdoor spaces?

With over three hectares of parkland, this became the focus of the wedding celebration. Even for parts that were inside I managed to decorate them so we felt like we were still outside in the nature.   The scale of the space enabled us to even have a (surprise) Montgolfier (hot air balloon) launch us into the evening sky. Depending on the size of your wedding there is also plenty of indoor space if the heavens decide to open.

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9.     Can we invite Children to the wedding?

This question is always a big debate amongst friends and family. As we had three weddings we were fortunate to have all options. By having our wedding at Oriole on a Sunday evening we knew that children would not attend. With France it was the opposite we wanted to have children at our wedding. However we didn’t quite realise that we would have 40 under 12years old. The hotel was the perfect place for this as there are farm animals grazing, playgrounds and so many things to entertain themselves with, that don’t come at an extra cost. We were then able to hire nannies to watch over kids during the reception.

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10.   Is there an overnight accommodation available?

Being able to sleep 180 guests at the hotel was a real plus for us. We wanted our guests to feel at home and found that many of them loved this too, as they were able to make a holiday of our wedding, exploring the grounds and the surrounding area. The swimming pools and other amenities added to the relaxed experience for all. As a bride it was nice to see everyone making friends and getting on even before the wedding had started.

There is variety of different style rooms and the hotel can also recommend other bed and breakfasts close by if you need more space.

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