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Monday 27 March 2023

How to Choose a Wedding Venue

As you begin your exciting wedding planning journey, one of the most crucial decisions you’ll make in the wedding planning process is choosing the perfect venue. The right wedding venue will set the tone for your entire day, making it a momentous occasion that both you and your guests will never forget.

With so many beautiful locations and potential venues to choose from, it can be overwhelming to know where to begin your venue search. To help you out, we’ve put together a guide on what to look for in a wedding venue. So, grab a cup of tea (or a glass of bubbly) and let’s dive into the wonderful world of wedding venues.

What to look for in your dream wedding venue

With so many things to consider when choosing a reception venue, we’ve separated the main factors out and we’ll go through them individually:


Location is probably the single most important factor to consider when choosing a wedding venue. Not only do you want a venue that speaks to your vision, but you also want to find somewhere that’s easily accessible for your guests (unless of course you’re planning a destination wedding). The last thing you want is for your loved ones struggling to actually find the venue (and risk missing your big day). And if guests are travelling from overseas, asking them to travel even further once they’ve landed in the UK could put out-of-town guests off coming altogether.

Southdowns Manor, for example, is a country house that occupies a prime location in the heart of the South Downs National Park. Not only is it easily accessible from major cities such as London, Southampton, and Brighton, but it’s also a stunning location. The South Downs National Park is after all known for its breathtaking vistas and unparalleled beauty, making it the perfect backdrop for your wedding photographs. From the sweeping hills to the lush woodlands, we provide a truly spectacular setting for your special day, offering a unique and unforgettable experience that will leave you with memories to last a lifetime.


The next key consideration is capacity. You want to make sure the venue you choose can comfortably accommodate all of your guests, without feeling too cramped or too empty. A general rule of thumb is to allow at least 25-30 square feet per guest for indoor weddings.

At Southdowns Manor, we offer a flexible capacity to accommodate weddings of various sizes. Whether you’re planning an intimate gathering or a grand celebration, we can work with you to create the perfect setting. We can comfortably accommodate up to 150 guests, and with exclusive use of the beautiful gardens and outdoor terrace, your dream wedding can become a reality.

So, to figure out how much space you need, have a think about how many guests you’d like to attend. Are you envisioning an intimate gathering with just your nearest and dearest? Or are you wanting a huge blowout party with everyone you know? Once you know your guest list and what kind of wedding party you’re after, you can narrow down venues based on their capacity.

Side note – choosing a venue with a flexible capacity, like Southdowns Manor, can offer several advantages. It not only allows you to create a more personalised wedding experience for friends and family that truly reflects your love story, without feeling limited by venue restrictions. It also means you can work with a wider range of vendors, which then opens up more options for catering, decor, and other services, helping you bring your dream wedding to life.

Style and atmosphere

Next, consider what style and atmosphere you want for your big day. Your wedding day is a reflection of your unique love story, and your venue should be a reflection of that.

So, are you dreaming of a romantic, fairy-tale wedding or a more relaxed, bohemian vibe? Do you love vintage details or modern elegance? Your chosen wedding venue will after all play a significant role in setting the tone for your celebration, so you’ll want somewhere that allows you to create the vibe you’re dreaming of.

There are several different styles of wedding venues to choose from, each with its unique atmosphere and character. For example, a rustic barn wedding venue offers a cosy and charming ambiance, perfect for a country-chic celebration. A grand ballroom in a historic mansion offers a more formal and elegant setting, ideal for a black-tie affair. A garden or outdoor venue offers a natural and serene atmosphere, perfect for a relaxed, whimsical wedding.

At Southdowns Manor, we offer a classic and timeless style that seamlessly blends traditional elegance with modern luxury. Our exquisite interiors and stunning gardens provide a versatile canvas for you to create your unique wedding vision. Whether you’re planning a glamorous celebration or a rustic-chic affair, we can work with you to create the wedding of your dreams, with a style and atmosphere that perfectly reflects your love.

Amenities and services

Onto amenities and services. It might not be as sexy as other considerations, but if you choose a venue that takes the hassle out of your hustle, it helps your wedding day run smoothly, reducing your stress meaning you can actually enjoy your party.

What do we mean by that? Well, a few amenities and services you might want to consider for your big day could include:

  • In-house catering and bar services: Whether you’re looking for a formal sit-down dinner or a casual buffet, catering is an essential element of your wedding celebration. We suggest you look for a venue that offers a variety of catering options and can accommodate any dietary restrictions or special requests. Enlisting the services of an in-house caterer and bar service can make your wedding day planning a breeze, as they can handle everything from menu planning to setup and cleanup.
  • Accommodation for guests: If you have guests travelling from out of town, having accommodation nearby (or even at the venue) can be a convenient and thoughtful addition to your wedding. At Southdown Manor, for example, we have 14 beautiful guest rooms, along with our magnificent Honeymoon Suite, for you to use.
  • Parking and transportation: Make it easy for guests to arrive and depart from your wedding by choosing a venue with ample parking. Or if guests need to be accommodated elsewhere, lay on transportation options to ferry them around for the day.
  • Ceremony space: If you’re planning to hold your actual wedding ceremony at your wedding venue, you’ll want to ensure that there’s a suitable space available. Look for a venue that offers a beautiful and versatile ceremony space that can be customised to fit your style and vision.
  • Exclusive hire venue: When you book your wedding at Southdowns Manor, you can have exclusive use of our stunning venue and its beautiful grounds for half a day, the whole day, or the day and evening. This means you can relax and enjoy your special day without any interruptions.

Catering options

We’ve touched on catering options above, but let’s delve into them in more detail. Your wedding day is one of the most important days of your life, and the catering plays a vital role in ensuring it’s a roaring success.

The food and drinks you serve will set the tone for the entire event, which is why it’s so important to get it right.

So, when selecting a caterer, consider the following:

  • Specialisation – Look for caterers who specialise in weddings, as they have the experience and knowledge to create a menu that will wow your guests. They can also provide guidance on portion sizes, dietary restrictions, etc.
  • Menu options – Choose a caterer who offers a variety of menu options that suit your taste and budget. Do you want a relaxed stand up buffet? Or a full sit down meal with appetisers, main courses, desserts, and drinks? Can they accommodate any special requests?
  • Tasting – You’ll want to schedule a tasting with your caterer to make sure you’re both happy with the quality of their food and service. This will also give you an opportunity to make any necessary adjustments to the menu.
  • Presentation – Consider how the food will be presented on the day of the wedding. Do you want a buffet style meal? Or a formal dinner? Finally, consider the table settings and decor, as they can enhance the overall dining experience.

At Southdowns Manor, we offer a variety of catering options to suit your needs, including our in-house catering team who can create a bespoke menu tailored to your particular preferences.


Finally, perhaps the most important consideration when selecting your dream venue is cost. The price of a wedding venue can vary widely depending on a number of factors, including location, season, amenities, even the wedding date, to name but a few. A summer wedding, for example, is likely going to be more expensive than an out of season affair; while midweek weddings are much cheaper than weekends.

So, consider the following factors when figuring out how much to spend on your wedding venue:

  • Location – Venues in popular areas or particular tourist destinations tend to be more expensive. To save on money, consider choosing a venue that is less popular or has less demand.
  • Season – The time of year you get hitched can greatly affect the cost of a wedding venue. Peak wedding season is typically between May and September, and most venues charge higher rates during these months. Consider choosing a date outside of peak season to save on costs.
  • Guest count – Many venues charge per person, so the more wedding guests you invite, the higher the cost will be. Consider being ruthless with your guest list to reduce costs.
  • Amenities – The more amenities you want as extras, such as catering, decor, and lighting, the higher the cost will be. You might need to have a hard think about which amenities and services are necessary for your wedding, and which ones you can do without.

One way to create a budget for your wedding venue is this:

  1. Determine your overall wedding budget
  2. Allocate a portion of your budget for the venue
  3. Research wedding venues that fit your budget and requirements
  4. Request quotes from each venue and compare them
  5. Consider negotiating with the venue to get the best price
  6. Once you have chosen a venue, be sure to read the contract carefully and understand all fees and charges (including hidden costs)

Southdowns Manor is the perfect wedding venue

At Southdowns Manor, we understand the importance of finding a wedding venue that truly resonates with your unique style and vision. That’s why we’re thrilled to share our beautiful wedding venue with you.

Located in the heart of the South Downs National Park, our exclusive-use manor house offers a truly enchanting setting for your special day. From the rolling hills and lush greenery to the exquisite interiors and impeccable service, we’ve got everything you need to make your wedding dreams a reality.

Our experienced team is dedicated to providing exceptional service and attention to detail, ensuring that every aspect of your wedding is planned and executed to perfection. From our luxurious bridal suite to our elegant reception rooms, we offer a range of amenities and services that will make your wedding day truly unforgettable.

Contact us today to schedule a visit and see for yourself why Southdowns Manor is the perfect place to say “I do”.


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