When it comes to planning your dream wedding, sleuthing out the perfect venue is key. In fact, many couples tell us once that all-important wedding venue is locked in, the rest of their planning falls into place. So, it needs to look and play the part! We checked in with Toowomba-based wedding coordinator Emma for her expert tips to consider when choosing your wedding venue.
Meet The Expert: Emma Vahua-Long is Coordinator of Toowoomba Regional Council’s Community Venues and Cultural Centres, which includes Highfields Cultural Centre, Oakey Cultural Centre and The Goods Shed.
1. Find your venue style
Whether it’s the backdrop for your ceremony, the setting for your reception (or both), there’s one important question. Can this wedding venue deliver the style you want? For example, a super modern venue will never give you a ‘rustic’ country wedding feel.
Some couples know what they want and how their wedding will look well before they even set foot in a location. Armed with perfectly curated Pinterest boards and folders of Instagram inspo, they just need the perfect venue to bring their vision to life. Others like to consider all their options and take their time weighing up the pros and cons of each.
There are endless styles and venues to choose from so here are just a few ideas:
- Rustic, Country/Barn or winery
- Garden, Romantic/Park or private estate
- Formal, Luxe/Restaurant
- Cocktail, Modern, Garden/Events centre or gallery
- Urban, Heritage/Warehouse or community hall
For the ultimate in flexibility, look for a ‘blank canvas’ space that still delivers on superb photo locations. Our leafy Highfields Cultural Centre in Toowoomba can accommodate a variety of styles while our 120-year-old Goods Shed (a converted Railway Shed) will add a dash of heritage charm.
2. Remember to ask…
When you’ve shortlisted a few wedding venues, start digging a little deeper. Will you have to hire décor through an external company, or can the venue provide everything you need? Chat about this before booking to avoid any unplanned expenses down the line. Do they have sufficient parking? This is especially important for older guests or if you’re planning a big guest list. Is there a pre-reception space for guests to mingle and plenty of locations for your photographer? And finally, are there any noise or time restrictions?
3. Meet your planning MVP
Most wedding venues include a planner or coordinator in their packages. This person will quickly become a key player in your wedding journey, assisting with a wide range of tasks, from food selection to décor. An in-house planner also knows the venue back to front — a big asset when it comes to answering the many questions you’ll have along the way.
If you choose to engage your own coordinator or planner, remember that you’ll build a close rapport with this person. They’ll meet the family and may even experience some of the drama. This is the person you trust to make your day perfect. You want someone who is experienced — an experienced planner can tell you the perfect time for photos at sunset and create a seamless run sheet. Also look for someone that just ‘gets you’, listens to what you want, and makes you feel confident and relaxed about your plans.
4. Check out the wine & dine options
For many couples, it’s all about the food and drinks. If you’re booking a full-service venue, flag any dietary requirements and book in a tasting (where you can also check out the wine list) before deciding on your menu. Invite your friends or family to share the experience and provide tasting notes — it adds to the excitement of planning.
If your venue is BYO food and drinks (a self-service venue), ask them for catering advice. It could save you money or a last-minute dash to the bottle shop for supplies (and who wants to do that on their wedding day?).
Some reception venues offer catering flexibility. While the Highfields Cultural Centre is a full-service venue, the self-service Oakey Cultural Centre offers a full-service option for an additional charge. The Goods Shed is a self-service venue with additional services available upon request.
5. Start exploring the extras
Have you been daydreaming about the fireworks and light-up letters you saw at a friend’s wedding? Or perhaps you’re obsessed with a specific cake/band/floral installation? Save time by checking in with your venue to see what options are available. If they can’t provide what you’re looking for, chances are they’ll know a local wedding supplier who can help.
This checklist includes some of the key suppliers and ‘extras’ to consider
- cake maker
- photo booth
- light up letters
Your day, your way
We’re always happy to chat about all things wedding and would love to help design your special day. From a leafy garden wedding at the Highfields Cultural Centre to a rustic celebration at The Goods Shed, we can work with you to create the event of your dreams!
Find out more about our choice of wedding and reception venues in Toowomba and The Darling Downs region here