If you’ve never attended a wedding venue open day, we highly recommend it – so here’s what you can expect and why you should definitely go.
One peek at our Events page and you’ll see an abundance of wedding venue open days held up and down the country. Why are there so many, you ask? Because they are, in a word, amazing. They are usually completely free of charge, beautifully planned and arranged and above all – useful. If your heart is set on a particular location, you may simply wish to visit just that one. However, if you’re still on the lookout, see as many as you can. It’ll make the final decision much easier. Expect to be impressed with them all, but you’ll most likely find you love one venue above all.
Image from David & Mary’s real wedding by Melanie Hold
You’ve probably seen hundreds of photos from real weddings and swooned over the decorations. But absolutely nothing compares to seeing a dressed-up venue with your own eyes. This, by the way, is the reason why so many couples sneak into their reception room before the guests come in – to behold it in its full unspoiled and uncrowded glory. Expect to see a dressed up room, or portion of a room.
If you’re extremely well organised, you may find yourself seeing several venues during one weekend. It’s the perfect opportunity to gauge travel time for you and your guests (hint: the shorter the better). Note down all the travel times for driving, and don’t forget to consider those guests who may be arriving by taxi or public transportation. Also, check out the parking situation. Expect to be surprised how close/far it all seems.
Image from Charlene & Stephen’s real wedding by Emma Russell Photography
Whether you’re going to one day or several, come prepared – bring a notepad, a camera and a companion, ideally your other half. You’ll want to remember as much of what you saw as possible, especially with multiple venue visits. Take pics of things you like best, jot down notes on everything that impresses you, and collect all the brochures and business cards they give you. Expect to see a lot of things you’ll want to remember, so feel free to get snap-happy.
Most venues have suppliers they work with very closely – florists, photographers, cake makers and transport companies. Chances are, you’ll meet some of them at the open day. There’s a very good reason to consider hiring them – not only will you have the benefit of chatting with them in person, they are also trustworthy. A venue wouldn’t risk its reputation on a supplier who lets the couples down. There are also cost benefits – often, their services may already be included in your package. Expect several suppliers to be there, ready to tell you all about their work and hopefully impress you.
Image from Alice & Paul’s real wedding at Lough Rynn Castle by Michelle Prunty
The venue’s wedding coordinator or events team will be there to show you around and answer your questions. We recommend downloading and printing our free wedding venue checklist and asking the questions you feel are most important. You can save the rest for later – if the venue is a serious contender, book an appointment with the coordinator where you’ll have ample time to ask everything else. Expect to meet the people who will be responsible for making your wedding unforgettable.
You may find yourself presented with cake samples, canapés, nibbles, champagne or wine – it varies from venue to venue. Expect to be wined, dined and be sure to ask some questions about food from special meals to buffet or hog roast options etc.
Image from Amy & Ross’s real wedding at Faithlegg House Hotel by DKPHOTO
Some places even hold fashion shows on the open day – and who doesn’t like looking at gorgeous dresses? If there’s one taking place, make sure to ask what time and arrive well ahead – the seating is usually limited. This is perfect if you haven’t found a wedding dress yet, and you can be sure the bridal store owner will be there too. Expect to be awfully impressed and maybe even find ‘the one’.
There’s no better time for a romantic getaway than springtime, and many venues with accommodations offer special rates for couples who wish to stay overnight on that very weekend. It may be your chance to experience a luxurious break at a discounted price! Call your chosen venues beforehand and ask if they offer this option.
Image from Ailish & Vinny’s real wedding at Fota Island Resort by Insight Photography
Finally, it comes to this – most couples have a budget to consider and sometimes what stands between them and their dream location is just that… the price. However, many venues offer specially priced packages for the open day only, which is why we suggest you come to the open day with your other half. The terms and conditions vary, so make sure to take some time to ponder your options and ask about the cancellation policy, just in case. Expect to be amazed by an incredible deal.
In short – what can you expect from a wedding open day? Loads of fun, tons of inspiration… and being that much closer to choosing the perfect place for your wedding day.
Main image of Ballymagarvey Village by Michelle Prunty
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If you think the bride should always have the last word, then Rachel is on your side! A devoted fan of everything quirky, unusual, colourful or crafty, she loves scouting WOL's real weddings for unique and fun touches. When not gazing at pictures, she's dispensing no-nonsense advice on everything from reception entrance songs to bridesmaid problems.