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Consider the comfort and safety of your guests.

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Most weddings fall within peak season (May through to early September) when we hope the weather will be mild and pleasant. Most clients choose their venues in beautiful settings in the hope that their guests will be able to enjoy the surroundings at their best, on a lovely, warm and sunny day. However, it’s also very important to consider all the facilities at the venue, before deciding if it’s actually suitable for your needs. Here’s a quick check list of items that you might want to consider before booking.

Parking & Access

Consider how many guests you have coming and whether there’s enough free and secure local parking. How far is the car park from the venue? Also, bear in mind that some of your guests might struggle with steps, stairs, narrow paths and narrow doorways etc. This can also present problems for suppliers who might have large bulky and heavy equipment to load in. Check if there’s disabled access or if the venue can provide ramps where necessary. If the event is upstairs then check if they have a lift that’s large enough to take a wheel chair. Also, do they have a trade’s lift that your suppliers can use? Using a public lift isn’t usually an issue for suppliers but it’s not ideal if guests have to use the same lift and we find that they have to wait while the band load and unload equipment into and out of a lift.

Avoid warm & Stuffy rooms

A mid-Summer wedding normally guarantees a bright, rain free, warm and sunny day. Ideal for taking a stroll around beautiful gardens and of course the photographs always look great on a bright sunny day. The trouble is that it can also get extremely warm and stuffy – especially if you’re in a wood panelled function room with soft furnishing or, worse still, in a conservatory surrounding by glass (effectively a greenhouse!). If you decide to have a band in the room then you’re guaranteed to raise the temperature even further (PA systems, speakers, guitar amps, stage & floor lights and even people dancing on the dance floor are all factors that are likely to contribute to the amount of heat in the room).

Understandably, when it’s really warm, people can sometimes feel rather hot and bothered. Even in the evening, when the sun eventually goes down, it can still be extremely warm inside. Marquees are great as they provide shade and you can open up the sides to let in a breeze but if you’re having your wedding reception indoors then the options might be somewhat limited so it’s worth checking this before you book.

Worth pointing out here that too much heat can have an extremely draining effect on guests, who are therefore a lot less likely to want to get up and dance and far more likely to spend more money at the bar than they might have initially intended. An overly warm room is also not conducive to getting the best performance out of the entertainment either as it can sap the energy out of the bands performance as well. Also, guests are less inclined to want to stay inside if it’s too warm and you could find most of them outside in the gardens, trying to catch a cool breeze, while the band are inside playing to a virtually empty room.

Washrooms and dressing room facilities

Are their sufficient washroom facilities for the number of guests you’re expecting? How about a baby changing room or a private room for the bride if she needs to freshen up? Suppliers – particularly bands and artists – may require a secure changing / waiting room area as well. Artists don’t normally arrive dressed in stage wear as they usually have to load in and set up equipment first, which involves a lot of heavy lifting and crawling around on the floor laying down cables. It’s important that they have somewhere that they can go to get changed in private and where they have seating and ideally a mirror. The artist’s changing room also needs to double up as a waiting room area as there’s usually a lot of down-time before and in-between the live sets.

Lounge and formal Bar Areas

Most weddings seem to follow a familiar schedule – the ceremony, the photographs, the drinks reception, normally followed by the wedding breakfast, speeches, cutting of the cake, the first dance and then the live entertainment (with maybe a break for an evening buffet). No wonder why it might feel like a long day for some people, particularly for your slightly older, more frail guests and also perhaps for families with very young children in tow. As such, it’s very important that the venue should have some designated chill out zones, where folks can go to just sit and relax if they need to.

Also, it’s not uncommon for venues to have one main function room and for everything to happen in that one room. This means that staff are probably going to need to re-arrange the room for you at certain intervals during the day, which could mean clearing and/or removing tables and chairs, setting up a bar or buffet area etc. Suppliers also need access to set up their equipment as well and that can take anything from 30mins to over 2hrs. Needless to say, turning around a room, loading in and setting up equipment can be very disruptive and noisy, so it’s preferable for guests not to be in the room while all this is going on. Ideally, you would want to be able to usher guests to a comfortable lounge area and then usher them back to the function room once it’s all been magically transformed.

Outdoor Areas

If a venue has nice settings and you want your guests to be able to enjoy them, then it’s logical for you to want to hold at least part of your wedding outdoors. In the warmer months, we hope for fine weather but we know that this can never be 100% guaranteed so it’s always important to account for the possibility of a light shower. There are various types of canopies available to provide outdoor shelter if required, from simple Gazebos and Pagodas to Tipi’s and Marquees of all sizes and if the venue doesn’t have suitable outdoor cover then there are plenty of companies who specialize in outdoor events who can arrange this for you. Just check with the venue that they won’t have any issues with you erecting a marquee. Besides, you’ll need to discuss where to locate it and get some guidance on appropriate sizes, given the number of guests and the amount of space available to set up in.

Always worth looking at some comfortable outdoor seating as well. Some of the older guests might feel too tired to walk around the gardens but they might like to sit outside and catch a cool breeze on a warm sunny day. A few conveniently placed tables and chairs, ideally close to a bar area, would likely be appreciated by more than a few people.

Also, if you’re hoping to have any amplified music outdoors then consider the health and safety implications. Anyone using electrical equipment must be provided with suitable cover and access to a safe power supply, just in case it starts to rain. A small, portable PA is less of a concern as the artist can easily relocate the PA indoors if there’s any hint of rain to come but a larger ensemble would normally supply a bigger rig and this cannot easily be relocated so they would require a marquee on a level surface and a suitably protected power source. The great thing about marquees is that you can usually leave them open on the sides, while the weather is fine and then the sides can drop down if it starts to rain.

Our advice: Comfort is not the first thing that comes into your mind when you’re considering a venue but clearly it’s an important concern and can make a real difference to how things run and, more importantly, peoples enjoyment of the day.

Act Sharp clients are always welcome to contact Act Sharp for any further advice on organizing their events - 08000 285 284 - and we're also happy to offer our assistance and liaise with venue staff and other wedding suppliers to ensure everything runs smoothly and that there aren't any unforeseen issues or clashes on the day.

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