Advice on picking a wedding venue from Claire Young…

Claire Young shot to fame in 2008 in the BBC1 smash hit The Apprentice. She was the no-nonsense saleswoman who infuriated, then won over, viewers to reach the final – becoming the biggest ever bookies favourite to win in Apprentice history. Nicknamed The Rottweiller for her ability to go after whatever she wants; many admire her drive never to give up and were gripped by her transformation throughout the series.

Claire’s love of weddings lead her to a partnership with Tanya Palmer and together, since 2008, they have run successful Venues company Elegant Venues. Whilst managing a busy career, Claire still finds time to enjoy reporting on business matters for GMTV, Channel 5, Sky News, BBC News and various radio stations. Claire now shares some advice with The Wedding Girl on finding that perfect venue….

Congratulations girls you’ve got engaged, you now have the exciting project of planning your wedding. One of the things at the top of the list will be to find your perfect venue. Apart from a car or mortgage this is probably the largest amount of money you will spend on anything so it’s important to think hard, do your research and ask lots of questions. I work in the wedding venue industry day in day out so feel I have plenty of experience to share. Trust me I have seen the good, the bad and the ugly! Nowadays there are so many venue options, with countless things to think about that it can turn into a bit of a minefield. I’ve tried to make it simple and write my top tips to make sure all bases are covered.


The Wedding – part one and part two

The first thing to think about when choosing a wedding venue is that are likely to be two parts of your wedding to organise; the ceremony and the reception.

If you are planning a church wedding

·  Check availability with the church before you start venue hunting

·   Once booked how far are the nearest venues from the church?

·   How will guests travel from the ceremony to the reception?

If you are planning a civil ceremony

·  If you wish to marry at the venue check they are licensed for ceremonies

·  Does the registrar have availability for your date?

·  What is the additional cost to host the ceremony? (usually £200-£400)

The Venue – The Hunt

Ok, so once the ceremony is booked the serious venue hunting begins.

Some basic questions need to be asked so you don’t waste your time trawling round venues which aren’t right for you.

· Can they accommodate the number of guests you wish to have? You don’t want to be squashed in like sardines! On the other hand smaller weddings need to be careful they don’t rattle around in big venues.

· Does the venue allow children?

· Do you need access for elderly guests?

· Can they adapt to the style of reception you would like? For example, not everyone wants to have a traditional wedding breakfast and may want to have something more low key.

· Is there accommodation for your guests? If not, where will they stay?

· Prices. Make sure you know all the costs up front and what is included. Some venues are very good at hiding costs until the last minute and this means you unintentionally blow your budget. For example charging for a cake knife and stand. Be sure to ask as many questions as possible about costs.

· Paperwork. Ensure the venue provide you with written confirmation of your booking, requests and prices. This avoids any nasty surprises later in the day.

· Venue staff. I think it’s critical you have a good relationship with your venue team. They should work with you to ensure the big day is perfect. They should be knowledgeable, friendly, polite, have good communication skills and at all times be professional. If your gut instinct tells you otherwise walk away! You will have to deal with these people day in, day out over the wedding period and you should feel happy throughout.

· Ask who will be there on the day to ensure it all runs smoothly?

· Are there any restrictions with the venue? For example do they allow fireworks? Do they allow confetti? Do they allow candles? What time will the music need to be finished and the party vacated? Some venues can apply for an extended late licence for your wedding. Older buildings will not allow guests to wear high heels due to damage to floors.

· Photography. Are there beautiful spaces inside or outside to take the pictures? Make sure you check access to all the spots you like before the big day.

Venues Types

Literally any building can be a wedding venue and the range of venues now available is mind blowing; from traditional to the weird and wonderful. Below I’ve jotted down some of the most popular options.

Historic Properties (Castles, Country Homes and Stately Homes)

Fantastic for larger weddings usually due to the scale of the property, however, smaller weddings shouldn’t be put off. They can normally section part of the venue away for you so you don’t feel like you’re rambling around inside a huge space. Often they are on an exclusive basis so very private.


Great for those who would like a ‘package’ option for their big day, an easy way to manage the whole process. Many hotels have more than one wedding at a time so be sure to check the situation.


Ideal for those who have outside space and would like a bespoke venue. The downside being the cost, the positive being you have complete control of the look & feel plus the food and drink. Marquees are hard work to get right so I suggest you use a decent company who can do it for you – less stress and less hassle!

Restaurant and Pub

Great food and drink, what more could you want? Often suited to smaller numbers. You will most likely avoid ‘wedding’ charges and so good for saving a chunk of your budget.

Social Club/Local Hall

These can often be hired at a fraction of the cost of typical wedding venues and can be very flexible with what you do on the day so definitely worth having a look at.

You can find out more about Claire and Elegant Venues at

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