It’s a rainy Sunday morning as I write this, having returned yesterday from a considerably warmer, sunnier Spain. My fiancé and I had a busy, couple of days venue hunting for our 2020 wedding and I am so pleased (understatement!) to say we chose the most perfect wedding venue for us.

This trip wasn’t just amazing from a personal perspective, but also from a professional point of view too; for the first time, I stepped into the shoes of my brides when they embark on their venue viewings to Italy (where I usually conduct my business). I now completely understand the rollercoaster of emotions; excitement being the overriding feeling, but also moments of nervousness – what if we don’t find the one?! The slightly daunting moments of committing to both a date and a place, not to mention the happy tears and the next overwhelming rush that came when we found the right place!

I’ve come home with a new found understanding of the venue hunting process, and can now share my top tips for when it comes to finding your wedding venue:

1. Engage a Wedding Planner – Especially for a Destination Wedding!

Being a planner myself you could argue I’m biased on this, but actually, we’ve hired a wedding planner too. I’m lucky in that a good friend of mine, Dyana, is an amazing planner (Optimum Weddings) and together with her team there is no one I would trust more with the organisation of our day.

Even so, like every newly engaged couple, we got straight on the internet and did some venue hunting ourselves. We were completely flexible with the location, for us it was more about creating the right vibe for our day, and we’d go with the venue and place that could provide that. You’d think that would make things easier, but actually, it was the opposite. We were overwhelmed with choice, locations and logistics and our searches had no real purpose.

After a casual chat with Dyana, we became increasingly excited about the prospect of a wedding in Spain. The team soon sent us a range of venue ideas and instantly the stress was taken out of this part of the process.

Most importantly, we would never have found our beautiful venue just from internet searches – a planner has expert knowledge in their area and knows the hidden gems!

2. Don’t Put All Your Eggs in One Basket

Of the venue ideas we were sent, there was a very clear front runner. At this stage, it would have been so easy to book a very short trip and see just the one place. However, I’d still recommend considering other properties too.

Venues often look different in images compared to reality. Sometimes the reality is so much better than the photos, but not always.

Don’t leave yourself in a situation where you have made the trip but have not arranged enough viewings, just in case! It’s always good to have options, even if the ones you don’t like so much just help to solidify your decision on the right one.

3. Don’t View Too Many Places

That said, it’s also important not to view too many properties. Options are good, but too much choice can leave you feeling confused and actually makes everything counterproductive. (The same applies to wedding dress shopping by the way!)

Instead, work on really fine tuning your brief and shortlist 4-6 places to visit in person. Consider your priorities, what will you compromise on and what won’t you? For me, I soon realised that having a ‘Plan B' in case of rain was really important – even in August in Spain!

Choose a budget and stick to it and shortlist venues which are suitable for your preferred spend – there will be nothing worse than falling in love with a place you just can’t afford.

Be clear on your minimum and maximum guest numbers and make sure your chosen viewings are suitable for those numbers. A venue being too big can be just as much of an issue as it being too small – you don’t want to be lost in a place, but nor do your wedding tables want to be crammed together.

Finally, have a bit of variety in the venues. We viewed four very beautiful but very different places and as the day went on we learned what sort of set up was going to be best suited to us.

4. Trust Your Gut

We initially had six venue visits lined up across two days. In the end, we only viewed four. Each of the properties we saw were beautiful. Not one of them could be considered a bad venue.

The first three all had aspects that we liked; we were trying to be open-minded and our wedding could have worked at all of them, but neither of us had that feeling. As the day went on we got a little nervous that maybe that just wasn’t going to happen.

However, as soon as we arrived at our fourth venue (the one that had been our preference before our trip) Alex looked at me and said “we’re getting married here” with the biggest smile on his face. We just knew. I guess like finding the right partner, when you know you know.

Everything just fitted into place, we could totally see our day there and could really envision our friends and family all together. We both had that overwhelming sense of excitement that we had been waiting for (which led to an overly emotional moment from me!)

Then and there we asked our planners to cancel the viewings the following day – there really was no point, and instead worked on the next steps with the venue. We knew in our gut that the first three places weren’t right. Although stunning venues, they just weren’t the right one for us. To another couple, they would have been perfect, and that’s what it’s all about. Finding the perfect place for YOU and YOUR day.

Don't have the luxury of visiting venues for your destination wedding? Read Claire Eliza's step by step guide for choosing a destination wedding venue from abroad. Once you've found ‘the one' read inspiration for extra events to host during your wedding week from Emily herself!