For many couples, the location of their wedding is the most important factor. Some couples choose to say ‘I Do’ in a place that is sentimental to them – perhaps a church they’ve visited since childhood or the spot where their parent’s tied the knot. Others have a strong desire to get married in a particular country or village. And some simply fall head over heels in love with a spot and cannot picture themselves getting married anywhere else.

However you find the perfect location for your wedding, it’s important that you look beyond the emotions and fully understand the contract you’re going into. On average, couples spend between 10 – 15% of their overall budget on the wedding venue, not including catering. Reports show that, in 2019, this averaged at around £5,500. That is a significant investment and not one you should go into lightly. In this guide, we’ll look at the factors you need to consider when it comes to wedding location contracts.

How to choose the perfect location?

First, though, let’s look at the best ways to choose your perfect location. As we mentioned above, you may already have somewhere in mind. Or, you may be so firmly set on a wedding venue that you’re willing to wait months or even years to tie down the perfect date. On the flip side, many couples have a rough idea of what they want from their venue but very little idea how to go about finding it.

Our top tips for this are:

  • Focus on your budget: It’s easy to fall in love with an exquisite venue only to find that it far exceeds your budget. Don’t forget, the location is normally one of the first planning points ticked off your list. And, therefore, you still need to account for the other important areas of your big day. Identify your budget early on and only visit locations that sit within this.
  • Consider location guests: Are there people who are a ‘must-have’ on your wedding guest list? If so, you’ll want to make sure that the location you choose is easy for them to travel to and access. While it may be in your bucket list to have a beach wedding in the middle of Bali, it’s unlikely that your 90-year-old great grandmother would be able to attend.
  • Capacity: Understanding how many guests a venue allows will mean you can establish whether it’s right for you. Consider what parts of the day will take place here. Are you looking for a site to have the ceremony and reception in? Or are you opting for a small, intimate ceremony and a much more extravagant evening soiree?
  • Practicalities: The beauty of marquees for weddings is that they can be erected on nearly any ground type. This opens up the scope of possibilities when it comes to choosing your location. But while that picturesque field in the middle of the Yorkshire Dales may deliver photographs that take your breath away, it’s unlikely to have the electrical or power facilities needed to support a large group of people.
  • Reviews: You don’t want to get entirely wrapped up in the beauty of a location without understanding how it has coped with past weddings. Look up reviews online from past couples. Or, better yet, ask the wedding planner to put you in touch with someone who has used the venue before. An honest review is one of the most valuable things you can have.

Once you’ve fallen for a wedding venue, it’s time to go logical. You’re investing a lot of money and have high expectations for what it needs to deliver. Therefore, you want to know that you’re protected if something goes wrong or not to plan. This is where a wedding location contract comes into play.

Why are wedding venue contracts important?

At the end of the day, hiring a venue from a vendor is a business location. In order for this transaction to run smoothly, the contract needs to be clearly understood by both parties. There needs to be a mutual understanding around things like who is responsible if something goes wrong, who has legal ownership of deposit money and how complaints should be dealt with. Even if you’re not legally minded, it pays to have some understanding of what a contract covers and how to use it, in the event of an emergency.

Important areas to consider in the contract

Most vendors will provide you with a contract, as standard, and you must read it thoroughly. Determine who is liable for the issues that are raised and make sure to flag any issues that don’t fit in with what you expect. Our tips for dealing with wedding contracts are:

See full agreement in person

If possible, it’s always best to see and read your wedding location contract in person before signing it. Doing so with the vendor management or wedding planning also allows you to ask questions, query clauses and ensure you fully understand what you’re signing up for. Don’t be afraid to query anything you need. Much legal jargon can be confusing to the general public and you’re not expected to have a secure grip on it. The job of your vendor is to ensure you understand everything that it covers.

Understand all rights and extent of contract

Don’t be afraid to query anything you need. Much legal jargon can be confusing to the general public and you’re not expected to have a secure grip on it. The job of your vendor is to ensure you understand everything that it covers. You need to understand what hours the contract covers – are you covered from the morning of your wedding date until the next day? Or does the cover only extend for specific hours? You also need to understand any loopholes that could mean you’re left out of pocket.

Establish rules around suppliers

Static venues can normally provide very clear direction to suppliers on the day – especially if they specialise in wedding hire. However, if you’re working with a temporary structure, like a marquee, and in a location that isn’t perfectly tailored for weddings, you’ll need to understand how the contract covers them. What hours will they be allowed on-site? How long will they have to clean up? Will they have access to electricity etc or should they supply their own generators? Who is responsible if a catering company causes damage? All of these questions should be covered in the contract and established early on.

Understand payment timeframes

Most wedding venues provide a split payment service. You will have to pay a deposit and then specified percentages of the final amount on specific dates. Your contract will lay these dates out and you need to be aware of them to prevent being faced with costly fines.

Protecting yourself from loss

There are some instances where a wedding venue may have to cancel your big day. This could be because of unavoidable damage to the building or something more unexpected, like a global pandemic. There should be a Force Majeure clause written into your contract which identifies who is responsible for the losses that occur in the event of an unavoidable situation.
The brilliant thing about wedding contracts is that hundreds of couples sign them every single day. So, there are hundreds of people out there who can offer their advice to ensure you’re covered for every eventuality.

We also have an experienced team on hand who has worked with many different wedding venues over the years. If you’re thinking about hosting a marquee wedding and want to make sure you have everything covered, let a member of South West Marquees support you through the entire planning process.